Abena Sekyiamah personifies the go-getting entrepreneur who stands against the odds to make things work. She is the founder of Clean Eats Ghana Limited, located in Tema and more recently East Legon. Before that, she was a co-founder of MAKSI Clothing. With about 10 years worth of experience at the helm of both startups, and a seemingly effortless transition from the fashion industry to food, it is easy to see why her journey is remarkable.

Sekyiamah describes herself as a jollof-loving entrepreneur at heart and considers Clean Eats’ ‘Love Potion’ smoothie a must for first-timers. Although she went into business right from her national service days, she largely did things in reverse. Like fellow Sisterhood Matters interviewee Marcia Ashong, she often found herself facing opportunities and challenges without any prior training or sector experience. She has had to not only learn on the job, but also to listen and spot trends and potential from afar. While ‘customer service’ might be a misnomer for many Ghanaian businesses, Sekyiamah takes it seriously. She also considers documentation and being attentive to employee needs imperatives for building a strong business and team.

As part of our 2018 Sisterhood Matters conversation series which brought women together in conversations about supporting one another, fashion-turned-food entrepreneur Abena Sekyiamah (A.S.) joined our Editor Jemila Abdulai (J.A.) for a Facebook Live Chat. They explored entrepreneurship and building teams in Ghana; healthy diets and staying fit; the highs and lows of being Ghanaian women in business, sisterhood, and more. Captured below are excerpts of their conversation and responses to audience questions.

Learning On The Job & Starting-Up In Reverse

Circumspecte: What has it been like to find yourself constantly  learning and having to build your own business? How do you bring structure to your own life?

A.S.: It means having a short memory for a lot of things, because you may have encountered a lot of bad things. A lot of losses which might be big, depending on the magnitude of risk you are taking and the business venture. If you decide to dwell on these things, that means you are not moving forward and you lose focus. You learn on the job and have some hard experiences, but it is about how you bounce back. It is important to have documentation so you can always look back and refer to what you did previously and see how you can better it. For instance, if you go through the year and your sales trends keep going up and down, you have to figure out what the cause is. What did I not do the previous year that can help me prevent the loss, or should I say a drop, in sales the following year? It is important to always have documentation.

Circumspecte: What are some things you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out?

A.S.: I wish I knew all the right documents that I would need to guide my business. It is important to have an operations manual. It is also important to have some guidelines that bind both you and your employees. You should treat your business as a business and not a hobby. This means abiding by all the right documentation required by law, such us updating your accounts – even if it is just basic bookkeeping. Luckily I learned a lot from my first business (MAKSI) so I didn’t repeat mistakes with Clean Eats Ghana. I think it is important to have a mentor. It doesn’t have to be someone from your field because when you look at entrepreneurship you are looking at people who are entrepreneurs. Who, despite hardships, will thrive. So you would want to have that perseverance and make it part and parcel of you. It is important to have someone to look up to. It is different when you know you lack certain information because then you can go on Google and look it up – what if it is something you have no idea about? It is when you speak to someone in other related fields that you will get a wealth of knowledge that you can apply to your business.

"I wish I knew all the right documents I would need to guide my business. It is important to have documentation so you can always look back to what you did previously and see how you can better it." – Abena Sekyiamah Tweet this

Doing Business With Other Women

Abena Sekyiamah (centre) after a MAKSI fashion show / Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah

Circumspecte: Let’s talk about your first business MAKSI Clothing, which you started with your sister. Why did you start it and decide to work together?

A.S.: In terms of how MAKSI came about – my sister used to live in London and she would come home for the holidays and I would be on her about her outfits and how Ghanaian women are now so trendy and love to keep up with the trends. I started styling her and so it started out as a styling business. I thought, why don’t I go into this? But at the time styling wasn’t really a thing. I didn’t see how I was going to make money out of it. So I decided to branch into making clothes. It started with me designing clothes for her and then we would send it to our local seamstress who would then make something for us. Over time we sat down and said we need to launch this business. My sister was glad to support me by being my media and communications person and that’s how the partnership started.

A.S.: The beautiful thing about the relationship between my sister and I is that irrespective of our differences we never made it interfere with work. We could move right on from bickering to planning for an upcoming fashion show. That is very beautiful because of the age difference between us – about nine years – so I have to give credit to my sister. She has taught me a lot about communicating confidently, because sometimes you start to doubt yourself and that doesn’t make you move forward. I would have media interviews and I would try to run away from it, saying ‘oh this is your field’, and she would say no, you have to push yourself.

Circumspecte: How has your business been received by other women and what is your opinion on the idea that women do not support each other?

A.S: I think what people say and the myth about women supporting each other is a very dicey situation because I think women are very complex and yet very simple. Our individual differences sometimes have us fighting with each other and that’s how come it sometimes seems we cannot work in the same space with each other. Even with my sister, we would have our differences but we are bound by blood. We had to live in the same house so we kind of made it work. But I can see how that would be different if it were someone who I didn’t have any emotional ties with. It takes a lot of maturity and learning to accept that her area of expertise and mine are different. Sometimes when we can’t come to an agreement, I just allow her to take that decision and when it is my field – the creative aspect – she gives me the go ahead. We also learn from our mistakes. It takes a lot of maturity, patience and respect for one another. There is also the aspect of her being older than I am and having more experience in business operations. So sometimes you just have to let it go and let her take the lead. It is difficult admittedly.

"The beautiful thing about the relationship between my sister and I …We could move right on from bickering to planning for an upcoming fashion show." – Abena, @cleaneatsgh #SisterhoodMatters Tweet this

Circumspecte: What about dealing with competitors in your field. Did they want to collaborate? Did you feel like they resented you being in that space?

A.S.: I have had countless occasions where I have felt like I am not wanted in certain spaces especially when I was in the fashion industry. With the food industry, I haven’t encountered many women in my circle so I haven’t directly had those kinds of experiences. You feel the resentment and I think it boils down to confidence. If you are not confident with yourself, jealousy and envy come into play. On the other hand, if you are confident – even if you are not where you are supposed to be – you don’t have time to be looking at someone else. You have to be focused, and then you look at other people and admire where they have gotten to. This is something which is difficult for many people. It is something we need to continuously work on as women.

Jemila Abdulai (J.A.): I think that is a very valid point Abena makes; when you feel like someone isn’t supporting you or the person is trying to upend you – most of the time – they are dealing with insufficiencies in themselves. In my Sisterhood Matters chat with Gloria Buckman Yankson, she talked about how she deals with competition. She basically looks at it as, “If you succeed we all succeed. If you don’t succeed, then there is an issue here”.

"If you aren't confident with yourself, jealousy and envy come into play…if you are confident – even if you aren't where you are supposed to be – you don’t have time to be looking at someone else." – Sekyiamah #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: How do you support other women? Are you selective – only supporting those who support you – or do you just support women across the board?

A.S.: I think naturally I am attracted to positive vibes. If I am getting positive vibes from you, I draw closer to you. I am not about negative vibes at all. You can try your best, but you cannot make everybody happy. In your circle, if you find people who are willing to accept you, work with you and learn with you, they should be the ones you move towards. If there are a group of women in a room and three of them are willing to hear whatever I have to say, I’ll listen to the three and leave the seven and see whatever knowledge I can get from that side.

J.A.: This whole idea of keeping your circle positive and watching the energy around you; it sounds very metaphysical but it is true. I started believing the whole concept of watching the vibe you get from people from this lady I met at a youth institute in Senegal.  I worked well with everybody until I met her. For whatever reason – it could be five minutes I spent with her – I would leave extremely drained and tired. I get it: we want to be sisters and supportive, but we need to realise that part of that is taking care of yourself so that you can be present for the people who need you.

"We want to be sisters and supportive, but we need to realise that part of that is taking care of yourself so that you can be present for the people who need you." – @jabdulai #SisterhoodMatters Tweet this

Dishing On Healthy – How Clean Eats Took Off

Circumspecte: You started Clean Eats Ghana –  a healthy food business. Why did you move from fashion to food? Is there a connection between the two?

A.S.: I actually started Clean Eats Ghana while I was about to finish fashion school. Prior to that, I had spent six months always trying to create something in my kitchen; mainly healthy meals. Anyone who knows me, knows I have been a big person from the beginning. I have dealt with managing my weight as well as food intolerances because I used to have chronic migraines and back pains that were uncomfortable. I would go to the clinic or drugstore and most of the recommendations didn’t work for me. I did my research and figured it had to be the food I was eating. So I used myself as a guinea pig. I would take certain things out of my diet, reintroduce them, and then try and figure out what effect it had on my body. I would always listen to my body – if you see me in a doctor’s consulting room, I already have my symptoms on hand. The doctor is usually like, why are you here or how do you know?  

A lot of people were interested in the meals I was making. They saw the changes and had similar struggles. So I said, why not do this? I had always wanted to do something in the food. That is how I started Clean Eats Ghana. When I started, I was a bit scared. I was also still running MAKSI. I eventually put MAKSI on hold because my sister was out of town and I was struggling to manage the two in terms of production and public relations. The other thing was that Clean Eats was making more money and I am also about the money.

"I used myself as a guinea pig…People were interested in the meals I was making. They saw the changes and had similar struggles. So I said, why not do this?" – Abena Sekyiamah on starting @cleaneatsgh #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: How exactly did you go from trying recipes out on yourself to opening a healthy food business and advising people?

A.S.: The one thing I learned is that we are all very different. There is no one specific style of eating that applies to all people. For instance, I have a high intolerance to whole wheat. According to most people, wheat bread is the healthiest version of bread but is something that gave me bad reactions.  I’d get migraines and bloating. I did ketogenic and low-carbohydrate diets and none of them would work; either my weight loss would stall or I would suffer rapid weight loss. Even in terms of how I would feel after I ate certain things like beans, tomatoes – I realised it had to be something personal, relating to me. I had a group of women I used to train with; we would do different training sessions and people would react differently. There isn’t one diet or fitness plan for everybody. You have to find what works for you. Even when you go to the clinic and they ask you for your symptoms, you have to look into yourself and tell the doctor. When I consult with people I tell them to note how they feel afterward. I might recommend something for you but it may not work with your system.

J.A.: My sister and I always have this conversation about how some health professionals treat people who come to the hospital. In most cases in Ghana, it is assumed that the patient has no knowledge about anything. I think it is really important for women to be in tune with their bodies. I also happen to deal with migraines ever since I had my first period. It’s actually one of the first symptoms of my period, so every month I have it at least twice – at the beginning and at the end. Initially, I was like what is going on? Until I began to do my research and realised that it was linked to my period. It might be the craziest thing, but I do believe hormones may run our emotions as women. There are days when for the life of me I can’t make any decisions. I would tell waiters to give me the best on the menu and I won’t put too much thought into it.  But these are all things you learn as you come to know yourself and your body.

"There isn’t one diet or fitness plan for everybody. You have to find what works for you." – Abena Sekyiamah of @cleaneatsgh on staying healthy #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: How do they get to the point where they are comfortable with who they are and with how they express themselves – through fashion for instance?

A.S: You need to accept that you have one body. There isn’t a separate body you can jump into when you want to feel good and look sexy, except the body that you are in. Dressing to suit your body shape means you will always be flattering as long as you know your body well and are dressing for it. You will always feel confident even when people say no to you because you know you are better than that and so that doesn’t affect you in any way. I mean there are times when you are down so people’s words tend to hurt or sting more than they should. So own yourself and your body, and understand and appreciate whatever body you are in while working towards your goal weight.  

With food, I always say you should make it a lifestyle. You can take drastic measures and lose some pounds, but then you need to have a healthy relationship with food. Which means choosing a healthy alternative even when you don’t have the healthiest options. That’s what Clean Eats Ghana is about – giving you healthy alternatives because food is part of our lives., It’s our culture so you cannot run away from it. I know people who don’t go to social events because they will “break their diets” or they will be tempted to overeat. When you know your limit, that is having a healthy relationship with food. Another thing is proper planning with meal prepping for instance. That will help you know where the ingredients are from.

"You need to accept that you have one body. There isn’t a separate body you can jump into when you want to feel good and look sexy, except the body that you are in." – Abena Sekyiamah, @cleaneatsgh #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: What are some tips you would give when it comes to meal prepping? Why should that be something busy women especially should consider?

A.S: What meal prepping does is that it prevents you from snacking because your meals are laid out for you from breakfast, lunch to dinner so you can avoid eating all the unhealthy stuff. When hunger hits, you usually need something immediately to satisfy the hunger; if you have a whole chocolate bar available you will just grab that and eat it. You may feel instantly satisfied but that doesn’t relieve the hunger at all. But if you have your meals prepped you can just pick the food out of the fridge, warm it up and eat it. The other thing is you don’t have to overthink meal prep. You can simply chop your vegetables, cut up your chicken and spice it so when you come from work you don’t spend an hour doing it.  Meal prep is definitely something I would vouch for especially if you want to manage your weight and make healthier choices.

Audience Question: How do you motivate yourself to eat the healthier option when you are craving something that you know is not good for you?

A.S.: I try the 80/20 rule where 80% of the time I am eating something healthy and then when I actually crave something I can go ahead and have it without feeling guilty. Just because I know that with the 80% I am giving my body what it needs. Sometimes with hormones at certain times of the month, you feel like eating everything, especially unhealthy things. So if you eat healthy a majority of the time you will feel less guilty. The other thing with me is I am always creating and making new recipes with my staff, for instance, we have a whole range of health cookies like oatmeal cookies and sugar-free shortbread cookies.  I always try and come up with things that satisfy my taste buds.

Circumspecte: What has your experience been getting customers acclimatised to new food options? Have you had to convince any customer about why they should consider healthier foods?

A.S: Surprisingly, people have become more accepting of clean eating.  Before, when you heard that someone had died, it was usually someone in their 80s or 90s. But now you have very young people dying from food and lifestyle-related illnesses. A lot more people have become conscious of the things they eat especially with diseases like hypertension and strokes that are directly related to the food we eat and the lifestyle choices we make. A lot more people are aware but they lack knowledge. They know this is good for you, but they don’t know why. What we do in our shop is to have the benefits of the juices boldly listed so as you are taking the drinks you know what benefits you are reaping, be it from the beetroots or dandelion or even ginger. That is what really guides most of our clientele; a lot of them engage us in conversation about ideas and they also question us. We are trying to cater to a wide variety of people, which means the customer has to do some research. We can advise you, but you need to look into yourself and know what works best for you.

"Clean Eats was making more money and I am also about the money." – Abena Sekyiamah of @cleaneatsgh on her pivot from the fashion industry to food. #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Listening to Your Customers & Staff

Circumspecte: How did you deal with the fear of starting a business in unknown territory? In offering to other people what you had only done for yourself?

A.S: There isn’t one way to get over the fear; you just have to dive in. You need to prepare for some losses and you need to have a short memory. You need to quickly get over those losses, strategise and move forward. If you are as fortunate as I was, you get a lot of constructive feedback from your customers. You have friends lending support, as well as family – even your staff. When your staff buys into your vision they always move with you. As you research, they also research your ideas. They note feedback and work to see how best to make up for any mistakes. A lot of our inventions were contributions from staff. It’s always about listening and not losing sight of what your core values are. Listen to them and figuring out how you can make that work.

Circumspecte: You mentioned the importance of operational guidelines –Can you share an example of how such a manual can be useful? Say, in helping resolve a misunderstanding with an employee?

Credit: Clean Eats Ghana

A.S: With my business, one of the important elements is always having good refrigeration because our products are perishable. When the lights go off, the next option is the generator. If the generator is not running, what else can you do? Because that is the last resort. You would probably walk into work after maybe three hours and these very sensitive juices are sitting in the fridge which isn’t running. Yet there are people sitting there watching the drinks when they could have moved those drinks to the freezer which has a cooler temperature and gives enough time to resolve the issue. Some of these things seem to be common sense, but it doesn’t always work that way.

When you have an operational manual it gives people no excuse. There are usually options and when you can’t find one, the next step is to call me. You would be surprised to hear somebody say, I didn’t know your number or I tried calling you. Or with customer service – they may be trying to reach a customer who is unavailable. I always say texts don’t lie. Text the person so they know you are trying to reach them. If the customer says “your call never came through” what are you going to do? If you had texted there would always be evidence. These things may seem trivial but they go a long way to save you from big problems.

J.A.: One of the biggest challenges in Ghana entrepreneurship-wise is human resource; finding people who are talented and have the skill you need but also finding people whose culture fits your work or business culture. We tend to focus on the first – which is people going to school for technical expertise – and we forget the human resource and human nature elements. That is what I find a lot of startups struggling with. You have been able to build a team such that you can leave them alone in the shop for a couple of hours while you go and do something else.

“When your staff buys into your vision, they always move with you…It’s always about listening and not losing sight of what your core values are.”

Abena Sekyiamah, Clean Eats Ghana


Circumspecte: How do you build a good team, in terms of talent, personality, culture and so on?

A.S: I think finding a good fit will be difficult; you might find someone who seems like a good fit but it might not last. They might start working with you, realise that it is not for them, then leave after a month, in which case you’d be crushed. Or they start off well and things begin to change. Usually, I prefer to work with “blank slates” meaning I can imbibe all my values in you and you are also given the opportunity to be creative, to explore yourself. It means inspiring people daily. I’m like a marketer: I am always selling people my vision and sharing my challenges, so they know what I go through. I always need them to understand why things have to be a certain way. For instance, some of the big issues we deal with include theft, which is common in the workplace. If you are stealing something worth 10 GHC every day, in a month that is 300 GHC, and in a year it is about 3000 GHC. Imagine how much one individual is costing the company. If I have five people picking something worth 10 GHC –  because they learn from that one person and think it is not a big deal – this is over 15,000 GHC gone each year and that is the magnitude that they don’t see.

I’m like a marketer: I am always selling people my vision and sharing my challenges, so they know what I go through. I always need them to understand why things have to be a certain way.”

– Abena Sekyiamah, Clean Eats Ghana

I have people who were regular kitchen staff and now they are managers. It’s just beautiful to see the growth and realise that they get why you always need to stay on top of things. Human resource management is a full-time job involving daily inspiration and being an inspirational person. It is not only being concerned about your company’s needs but being concerned about your employees’ needs as well. Sometimes it means sitting with one of them and having a chat to figure out what their needs are. You’d be surprised at how giving a call to an employee who didn’t turn up to work because they are sick can make them think the world of you. It usually does not happen in a lot of workplaces, they would not have their CEOs call in and check up on them to see how they are doing.  In a way, it is just being an exemplary human being.

“My biggest challenge is inspiring the people around me – my employees –  to move with me. It means countless conversations, and moving here and there.” – Abena Sekyiamah, @cleaneatsgh #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: What are some of the principles you apply to make your customers feel a part of your company, even if they are only coming in to pick up an order?

A.S: It is important to be accessible. It isn’t something that is common in our parts, but do it. Even if it means just saying hello. The layout of our shop is an open space, you can literally see my desk when you are ordering food. While trying to get work done on my computer, I say hello and people value that. The fact that you can take five seconds out of your work to greet them is something that doesn’t usually happen. It is just going the extra mile for your customer. Some customers eventually become friends, but you shouldn’t lose sight of the fact they are customers. Put your customers first and treat them fairly. We have a ‘first come first serve’ order basis, even for my friends, because they are paying customers as well.  In my interactions with customers-turned-friends, I listen carefully to feedback. I do not disregard it or think they are jokingly complaining. You always need to have that professional relationship and communicate clearly with customers.

"It is important to be accessible. It isn’t something that is common in our parts, but do it. Even if it means just saying hello…Listen carefully to feedback." – Abena Sekyiamah, @cleaneatsgh #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

J.A.: Yes, I think communication is so important, especially when it comes to working in Ghana or just being an entrepreneur. It can be annoying to ‘over communicate’ or follow up. But if you don’t do it, too many things fall through the crack and it ends up affecting you and your business, while the other people involved seem not to care. You can call me on the phone and I would still say send me an email. It is not that I cannot hear you on the phone; it is so that when it is written down we can see if we both understand it in the same way and then begin to have a conversation and make sure we are on the same page. People often want to meet in person or talk on the phone without any paper trail whatsoever and that is difficult to work with.

Self-Care for Women in Business

Circumspecte: What does self care mean to you?

A.S.: Self-care for me is being able to have personal time. It is very important for me, even if it is just five minutes. It’s important to just make time for yourself; we tend to lose sight of that. My mom would ask me if I have days off and I’d say no, I take personal time off during the day. I take time to do something I really love doing, and one of those things is long walks. Even if I wake up at 10 am, I will do an hour of walking and during that time I call the people that matter the most to me, before I move on to work. When you pile your plate it is overwhelming, so you have to prioritise. Once you achieve some of the major tasks you needed to do, you feel fulfilled and then you can indulge a bit – whether it is working out, listening to music, or spending time with family. I don’t live with family so I try as much as possible to pass by during the week and have a chat with my mum or dad. It is just about being able to manage your time for yourself.

Circumspecte: Do you ever feel guilty for not being present because you had a lot on your plate – say for a family member or friend, or at a social gathering? How do you deal with the guilt?  

A.S.: I have learned not to feel guilty because I have realised that as an entrepreneur, things just crop up. I could be at your event and have to leave in the next two minutes. When you have people who understand what you are doing and what you are working towards, they give you a chance to make it up to them. They might be a bit disappointed in the moment, but they will give you a chance to make it up to them because they understand the nature of your business. Sometimes it is good to open up your work to other people so they have a feel of what your daily life is. With my parents is where I would sometimes feel the guilt; that I wasn’t spending enough time with them. Whenever I can, I always make up for that lost time.

J.A.: This is also something that I’ve had to deal with a lot, especially since my work usually takes me outside Ghana. I totally agree that if those who matter have a sense of what your life actually is, it helps. Because entrepreneurship is glamourised, people tend to see the hype. They tend to see you when you are on a speaking panel or when you win an award or when you are recognised. When you have started making that money and they can see you in action. They don’t see the low moments where you are somewhat depressed and just can’t get out of bed. Where you wonder, what the heck you are doing with your life. You are dealing with so many different things and until you are able to open that up to people, they cannot understand, because – let’s just be honest – it’s like you are living in different worlds. If you are able to reach out to other women who have been doing it for years, it helps. That is what sisterhood is really about: I have walked that path you are about to walk. It doesn’t have to be as difficult for you as it was for me, because I am there. The person I didn’t get to have? You can have in me.

"I've walked that path you are about to walk. It doesn’t have to be as difficult for you as it was for me, because I am there. The person I didn’t get to have? You can have in me." – @jabdulai #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: Many women complain about sexual harassment at work. What has your experience as a woman in the business world been? Have you had to deal with such advances?

A.S.: Sometimes I have the craziest experiences and it is difficult. Immediately people realise that you are not responding to their advances, they take it out on your business. That is a shame, because it is mostly men who do this…A lot of men cannot separate the business from your personal life so when you turn down their advances it is either they won’t patronise your business anymore or they would go around spreading false rumours to get back at you. So I always try to keep a distance. I am very cordial with my customers, I do the normal: I smile and if you have an important inquiry I will respond to it. But I always say, business first. I don’t mix business with pleasure. It is challenging though because I will have someone come in and say I am snobbish because he was trying to make an advance and I wasn’t interested.

J.A.: This is what many women entrepreneurs deal with: not being taken seriously or being taken seriously with a ‘but’ or ‘on condition that X, Y, Z’ –  especially on this phone number issue. To make my life simpler, I do not put my number on my business card; it has just my email address. I first did that because I was living in different countries so it didn’t make sense to have a number on there since it would change often. But once I realised that I wasn’t getting creepy calls from people I happened to give my business card to, I kept it at that…We tend not to talk about this element and I think it is important to think about if you should decide to go into business or entrepreneurship.

"This is what many women entrepreneurs deal with: not being taken seriously or being taken seriously with a ‘but’ or 'on condition that X, Y, Z" – @jabdulai on the realities of being a woman in business #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: What do you struggle with and how do you overcome your struggles?

A.S.: I think my biggest struggle is accepting support. Sometimes you feel like it’s just you and nobody else because you are the one who gave birth to that vision. You seem to be the only one who understands how it looks like. My biggest challenge is inspiring the people around me – my employees –  to move with me. It means countless conversations, and moving here and there. It gets really exhausting, where you feel like you can’t stress enough on something, yet every day it seems people are going in the other direction. I have had times at work where I am literally teary-eyed. I walk out and I cry a bit. Then, I pretend that nothing happened. When the good days come, you try and ride with it for as long as you can, because the bad days will surely come along.

“Sometimes you feel like it’s just you and nobody else because you are the one who gave birth to that vision…I have had times at work where I am literally teary-eyed. I walk out and I cry a bit.” – Abena Sekyiamah, @cleaneatsgh… Click To Tweet

Circumspecte: Do you have any final words to share?

A.S.: I’d say we should learn to support as many women as we can. I feel like women all over the world are doing incredible things, but we usually limit ourselves. We do not see our potential. Usually, it takes someone to come and push you a bit to test the water and see how best you can perform. I will attribute mine to my sister who encouraged me right from the beginning by saying ‘I know you can do this.you just need to put yourself out there’. It was difficult because being at the forefront isn’t really my thing. I prefer to be in the background. So, if we could mentor each other in a way. Just pick someone in your field to mentor and we will have a lot of women in business. I am proud to have 13 women fully on my payroll; it is so exciting to watch the potential. I have had two of them move from basic to managerial roles. Seeing their level of confidence and how quickly they have been able to learn on the job with just a diploma. They perform like university graduates because they have taken the work seriously and have decided to learn on the job. So that is what I think we should do as women.

“When we talk about success stories, we only see stories about where the person is and not where they came from. If we did have a background on person A’s business life you’d realise that some of these challenges are normal and that you just have to persevere and then work hard.”

Abena Sekyiamah, Clean Eats Ghana

Jemila: It is really important for us to learn to apply ourselves in whatever situations we find ourselves in. Most of the time, those situations are less than ideal. You may think there is something better you could be doing, but once you grieve the fact that it is less than ideal, you need to get to work. Because there is always something to learn. Even if you think this is something that might not necessarily be tied to your grand vision of where you think you want to be or who you think you should be in life –  at some point you use it. There will be a use for it and you’ll be surprised like ‘oh this thing I learned from that annoying seminar can actually be used’. So don’t discount the things that come your way and the things you experience because it makes you who you are and it usually prepares you for the next level.

“Don’t discount the things that come your way and the things that you experience because it makes you who you are and it usually prepares you for the next level.” – @jabdulai #SisterhoodMatters Click To Tweet

Interview by Jemila Abdulai. Transcription by Germaine Bombande. Originally published by Circumspecte.com.

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