Prior to her contact with the BAC, Mumuni Mariama, the proprietor of the Marimu Enterprise, earned a living from what has become known in Ghana as “Kpakpakpa” business. Mariama will go and buy secondhand ladies dresses and footwear from the Kumasi Central Markets and then move house to house to sell them. This came with a lot of hustle and bustle as she had walk daily for hours, usually through scotching sun, to earn an income. As if that was not stressful enough, many of her customers will buy on credit and in many cases delay payment. This situation affected her ability to make enough profit to expand the business. Sometimes, she had to add the hawking of fruits such as bananas, oranges and water melon to make ends meet for two little children and herself.
However, today, the 27 year old resident of Aboaso in the Kwabre East District of the Ashanti Region runs her own micro agro-based industry, producing different sizes of hard soap and pastries. As she lives a relatively better life now, Mariama believes it was fate that got her in touch with the Rural Enterprises Programme in September 2013. It was during one of her usual hawking moments. She saw a group of women in a meeting and decided to try her luck in selling some of her fruits to them only to realize that they were about to start a training in soap making organized by the Kwabre East BAC. Instead of continuing with her hawking, Mariama requested to be part of the training which the BAC obliged. She put on hold her hawking through the training period and completed the soap making training with the women. In order to master the skills of soap making, Mariama offered to run errands for the service provider, Agnes Acheampong, during another training session outside of the district. Today, Mariam has also trained 10 female apprentices.
Owing to her lack of the needed equipment to start the business, Mariama joined her elder sister, who had already received training in soap making from another BAC, to start the Shawat Soap Enterprise. Together, they acquired the basic equipment needed to start the business. Six months later, her sister left the business for her. But today Mariam owns all her business assets with the exception of the land on which she operates. But she is determined to expand the business, earn bigger income and owned up the said land.
Mariama has since changed her business name from Shawat Enterprise to Marimu Enterprises and registered it with the Registrar General’s Department, with facilitation from the BAC. Mariama participated in the 2014 Annual REP Clients’ Exhibition and Tradeshow in Bolgatanga, an event intended to offer its REP clients a medium of expanding their market. Shawat took this opportunity wholeheartedly and today has five (5) retail distributers across the country. She also received training in business management and is preparing to apply for loan under the Programme.
Mariama has also received training from REP in baking and confectionery, learning how to make pastries, hausa koko and sobolo. Hausa koko is a local millet based porridge and while Sobolo (known as bissap by Burkinabes) is a local non-alcoholic “dark red-purple coloured” juice prepared from the roselle (hibiscus sabdariffa) leaves. Mariama is yet to start the production of the hausa koko and Sobolo because she currently works alone. However, she makes the pastries in between the periods she is on break from the soap production. She explains that she currently produces soap on bi-weekly interval, spending an average of GH¢ 450 on production. She makes a minimum of profit of GH¢ 1,100 from each bi-weekly production and GH¢150 profit from the pastries.
Mariama is extremely grateful to REP for bringing back smiles to her faces since she got divorced some two and half years ago. She can single handedly care for her two little children without waiting for their father to bring money for their upkeep. She looks forward to bringing into fruition her dream of becoming a multi-business owner and a role model to young Muslim women who are unable to continue to their education to at least the senior high school level. She has faith in REP to help her achieve these.