The rainy season has made everything so green! The crops are growing fast, the frogs are croaking loudly (all night long) and I love watching and listening to the sound of the rain from our windows. We have had three good soakers this week, and on Friday it rained all day as we traveled to Assin Foso to support the first Business Fair presented by any of the ten stakes we cover.
We imagined this fair would involve members displaying samples of their businesses on tables in the cultural hall and everyone walking around to look at the displays, ask questions, discover how the self reliance initiative has impacted their lives and give encouragement to everyone. However, something in the back of my mind told me it probably wouldn't turn out to be anything like that, and so I was not surprised (just a little disappointed) when it wasn't! But it was OK because it fulfilled their needs, and was a very successful event. About 175 people attended, and they rotated through eight different presentations given by representatives of local colleges, vocational schools, media school, imaging diagnostic center, a bank, and a welding business. Everyone seemed to be enjoying it, asking questions and receiving some valuable information ....I think. Elder Lambert and I were lost since 95% of the event was in Twi. Anyway, I have become pretty good at picking out the English-speakers to translate for me and as a result was able to interview the welder and learn about his journey to success, and get a little feed back on the discussions.
Along with the Business Fair we visited a couple more member businesses..... Sister Felicia Gyansah
learned how to make liquid soap in RS about two years ago, which is about the same time she and her husband took “Start and Grow My Business”. SR taught her about savings and how to improve her business. Initially the challenge was how to make the business known. She went to schools, churches, restaurants. and other businesses to do this. She has also invested in advertising by having an attractive label made for her product. Because of her efforts she now has customers who call her to reorder her products.
We were given a lesson on soap making and learned she gets her supplies from a distributer in Accra. When asked if she had researched for a cheaper price she said she had but learned that less expensive supplies come with lower quality. Sister Gyansah feels offering a quality product has been better for her business than seeking more profit or offering a lower price. To keep costs down she gets used gallon containers from a hair dresser friend when she is finished with them. She also tries to refill her 5 gallon containers when her customers have emptied them.
To make her finances easy she has all payments go directly to an account. She makes withdrawals from this account for business expenses and her salary. A son, who is attending business school, helps her keep track of these transactions.
One of Sister Gyansah’s future goals is to register her business with the Ghana Food and Drug Administration. She feels this stamp of approval will help her business. Also, because of a lack of capital, her business is limited to cleaning products. She would like to eventually save enough to expand into body soaps and other products.
Two years ago Brother Thomas Gyansah,was out of work and, “Life was not good.” With a mechanical background, Brother Gyansah started a new business in which he buys cars in need of repair and restores them to usable condition. These are then sold for a profit. He uses a website to advertise his cars. When asked how the SR program has impacted his business he said he learned about tracking costs and keeping records to insure he is making a profit from each car he sells. His challenges are to save enough capitol to buy the kind of cars that sell fast and to build his inventory from one to as many as five cars.
This family appears to not only be learning and growing in their business but are doing well with their family and in service to the church. Brother Gyansah serves in the temple and their younger of two sons recently returned from a mission and is enrolled in a business coarse at a university. The older son just finished his college degree and is now serving his mission.
We find it humbling to visit with these good people. Sometimes we are at their business locations and sometimes we are invited into their homes. By way of material possessions they are most certainly poor; homes are small, small and sparsely furnished with old and worn out furniture, maybe a rug on the cement floor, maybe electricity to run a fan if they can afford it. At the Gyansah home this was also the case, but what touched my heart was that they had placed a picture of the First Presidency on one wall, the Temple on another wall, and a picture of the Savior on a third wall of the living room. I think this told me that their true focus is is not on worldly wealth but on being spiritually rich.
On Thursday we invited interns Josh and Kirt to join us at a Pathway devotional in Kaneshie. Kirt served his mission in Cape Coast so he is very comfortable with the culture. Josh is "warming up" to life here and has great business skills he can use in the NGO (Non Government Organization) he works with. The devotional was a hit and we received positive feed back from students, so that was encouraging. We are grateful to give them something that will help them move forward in their educational choices. Many of the third semester students will register with BYU/BYU-i for on- line classes in the fall.
So good to see Miss Lily for her first birthday and know that she and her big sister travel to Africa on a regular basis in their adventures!
Be good, do good!
Elder and Sister Lambert
Pictures: Josh, Collins and Kirt
President Tandoh (our SR Manager), his wife and boys Gabriel and Bruce
Lily, Ziyah and their Dad