The Ghana UK Based Achievement (GUBA) Awards nominated Mary for an ‘Efie Ne Fie’ award. The GUBA Awards which took place on the 10thof November is an event that showcases the work of Ghanaians in the UK and Mary’s success in business has earned her a place as an entrepreneur to watch. GUBA talks us through her decision to enter the natural oils market and her experiences so far.
What made you decide to start a business in Ghana? The idea came about when I moved to Ghana with my husband. I had very dry skin at the time and came to the conclusion that natural oils will be the best alternative to tackle my skin. I already had a love for natural oils and started to do some research on virgin coconut oil. After extensive research, I concluded that virgin coconut oil would be fairly easy to attain being that Ghana is a tropical country. To my surprise however, I found it incredibly difficult to get hold of it, and decided to start producing it and making it available for the Ghanaian people. I also realised that people did not have a lot of knowledge about it, so I started to host seminars and events to share the knowledge I have gathered about virgin coconut oil.
Briefly talk us through the concept behind your business. Virgin Coconut oil is the most versatile and healthiest oil on earth. My vision is to educate and create awareness about the health benefits of it and to try and make it available to all. Briefly visiting the UK, I found that there were brands of virgin coconut oil from the Philippines and other countries but none from and in the African market, which is a shame because the product is available in Ghana. I plan to make virgin coconut oil from Ghana easily accessible in the African and European market.
My business is also eco-friendly; I put the by-product of the oil to use by including them in body scrubs and other products, so nothing is wasted.
From your perspective, how is business in Ghana different from that in the UK? The main difference at the moment is the level of competition. I am currently trying to penetrate the UK market and although the awareness isn’t fully in the UK yet, the market is still very competitive. It is also quite difficult being a small company to compete against big companies from the Philippines. In Ghana however there isn’t a lot of competition in the oil market at the moment. In addition to the competition in the UK, it is also difficult for customers to understand and grasp the concept of the oil because they are not familiar with the crop. However in Ghana, there is familiarity with the crop and people can easily relate to it and those that aren’t yet familiar with it are still accepting and willing to learn about it. Thus, it is easier to market and sell the products in Ghana than it is, currently in the UK.
What difficulties have you encountered in business so far? One of the main difficulties at the moment is pricing. As I mentioned before, the competition is quite stiff and the fact that it is also a new product, the price has to be reduced to give it more appeal. Trying to penetrate the market as a small business is quite difficult and the main option is to cut the prices of the product.
What do you think about the Ghana UK Based Achievement (GUBA) Awards?GUBA is a good initiative and I think it is a way of helping small businesses like mine to get their message across and inspire others. It sends a message to others that they can also do something to help the Ghanaian and UK economy. Through GUBA you can see the work of others so you inspire as well as being inspired.
You were nominated for a GUBA Efie Ne Fie Award. How did you feel about your nomination? This is a really interesting category and I think it’s the best of them all. It is not easy moving back to Ghana so I think it’s a very important category for Ghanaians and for those in the diaspora. I was really humbled to have been nominated and I really appreciated being a nominee. I was up against really great individuals so I am very pleased to have been an Efie Ni Fie nominee.
What advice will you give to future entrepreneurs?
Firstly I would advise that you have a passion for what you do, that is the only way you can carry on doing it. You also need patience, dedication and hard work before you can reap the rewards.
GUBA is extremely privileged to have had a nominee like Mary Hubert. Her drive and commitment to her business and to Ghana is the very embodiment of the Efie Ne Fie characteristics. We wish Mary all the best in her business ventures.
By Claudia Andrews