I am a better person now and I am sure you can see for yourself that life is okay for me. I may not be rich but at least my family is very happy now with little burdens as compared the days when I used to retail salt at the market”.With these words of hope, Adwoa Tiwaah, a client of the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP), walks us down her transformational life with REP’s support.
Tiwaah, is a 45 years old entrepreneur from Agona in the Sekyere South District of Ashanti region. She cannot read, write or speak English and this is due to the inability of her parents to support her education. She could only manage up to primary five at her local primary school in her village, Agona. As a result, Tiwaa saw many her friends, male and female, who were fortunate enough to have parents who could afford to pay their school fees up to secondary levels and above, gain employment in the formal sector.
Left disappointed with seeing her childhood dreams of becoming either a teacher or nurse fade away due to her poor background, Tiwaa says “I had to fight to better my life and make a decent living”. She had to settle for petty trading at the local Agona market and sold a variety of things including soap, “ice kenkey” (mashed kenkey with milk) and fruits. According to Tiwaa, there were times she had to move from house to house to maximize her sales and break even. She later settled for the retailing of salt and for twenty years, Tiwaa would go to the Kumasi Central Market to buy salt on credit to come and retail in Agona. She bought the very grains and milled them into fine salt before selling to her customers.
Tiwaa and the Sekyere South District BAC’s path cross in 2012 after the district had been enrolled to once again implement REP. The BAC was embarking on a sensitization of business operators at the market when they met Tiwaa, who took an interest in the good news that the BAC was preaching. True to her aspirations, things have turned out good for the mother of five. Through the BAC’s support has seen the profit from her salt business increase by at least a thousand percent. “I used to make GH¢ 100 from my business when I was buying on credit from Kumasi to sell. But today I make profit in excess of GH¢1,000.”
Upon becoming a client of the BAC, she was among the first persons to receive training in business management and credit management. She learnt topics such as entrepreneurship, small business management, banking and savings culture among others. Two years later in 2014, Tiwaa popularly called “Lady Khadija” expressed the desire to own her own salt mill. With support from the BAC, she approached the Okomfo Anokye Rural Bank, a participating financial institution of REP, for financial support to acquire the salt milling machines and put up a workshop building. She was given a loan of ten thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢ 10,000) under the Programme’s Matching Grant Fund, with three thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢ 3,000) representing 30% of the amount as grant. She provided a thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢1,000) as her own equity. Prior to this, the BAC supported her to access another loan of Three Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢3,000.00) from Okumfo Anokye Rural Bank’s own funds to support her as working capital.
Today, Tiwaa owns her own mini salt processing factory in Agona, with the structure and equipment funded under the Matching Grant Funds. She travels to Accra in the Greater Accra to buy raw salt on large scale from the Panbros Salt Industry Limited, the largest salt producer in West Africa. Sometimes she goes to Sege-Ada, also in Greater Accra, to buy from the Songor Salt Ltd. Tiwaa grinds the salt into fine salts before wholesaling them to her customers in the Sekyere South and adjoining districts. She also supplies salt to Adu Gyamfi Senior High School and Agona SDA Senior High School.
“By the grace of God, I am now far richer than my husband, carpenter at the secondary school here. Because of the meagre moneys we were earning (referring to her husband and herself), life was difficult. Paying the children’s schools weren’t easy but today I can do that single-handedly without any money from my husband”, Tiwaa mentioned.
“I can tell you that even the respect I get from my husband and his family has increased tremendously. I am well respected in my town, that is why they call me lady Khadijah”, She added.
Tiwaa has three full time workers - two at the production site and one as the sales person. She is hoping to expand her business through the purchase of additional salt milling equipment and expansion of her current structure in the years ahead. She also has a vision of packaging and labeling her products into the export market.