When you go past her stall, the first question that will run through your mind is: Why would someone decide to sell snacks at an exhibition where several others are showcasing their latest technological innovations?
However, Marian Akosua Mantey never started out like this initially. She studied Film Directing at the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI), then moved into Film and TV Production before deciding to start making plantain chips and peanuts.
“I am a TV Producer by profession,” she said. “I studied film and television and was doing well. Then I told myself I don’t need to work for people for a long time. At a particular age, you need to sign off somethings and ask: what are you doing for yourself?” she inquired.
How it all began
It all generally stemmed out of a long held passion for cooking. She initially started the business in the heart of Accra, Adabraka where she was surrounded by banks, schools and tons of thriving businesses that would need her confectioneries.
“I love cooking and decided to do plantain chips. My area in Ghana has a lot of companies, schools and businesses. So I wanted to do something for the kids and the banks during lunch breaks. The area (Adabraka) is very dense with business.”
She began the business while still doing her full-time job. She invested a thousand Ghana Cedis to get ingredients and all that was needed to push the business forward. The process followed a series of testing and sampling that resulted in mistakes which later led to growth.
For her, taste is imperative because it is the ultimate game-changer. One catchy ingredient in her plantain chips and peanuts is the crunchy attribute that makes it stand out. She noted that she made a lot of mistakes in getting the perfect recipe for that crunchy feel in the mouth. She also added that she worked on a unique taste for the brand that would be recognizable even before the name is mentioned. That also took a while to come up with.
“I made mistakes, I took it for sampling, my staff criticized it till I got it. When I got the crunch, I named it Koco Crunch. I made sure that the brand name will apply to the taste even without tasting it, you will say wow, this is crunch.”
According to her, the idea was to make money and express her passion for cooking. These reasons led to the creation of her company’s name “Koco D’ Luv” which was established in February 2018 and registered under the Registrar Generals Department in Ghana. “Koco D’ Luv” translates into “Koco made with love”.
The Unique taste
For Akosua, the difference is the taste. “Everybody says it is just plantain chips. That is what I am getting as feedback. But as soon as they taste it, they are like oh no: it is not actually just plantain chips and that is the experience I want to give to people. It is just a snack, but you have to eat to satisfaction. I am more concerned about what goes into you and that takes a lot of care and consideration. At a point, people asked me if I bake them but I said no, I fry them. This is because I take my time, use the right oil and right stuff to prepare it.”
She could not tell the secret ingredient that made her sell over 200 peanuts and chips in the opening days of the Trade Fair but she hinted that Ghana spices were part of the constituents that made the snack become the toast of many at the Fair.
Speaking of the ingredients, she said, “It is a basic ingredient but there is a quality attached to it. You know everybody can fry and you can do everything but if you put your fried egg against my fried egg, there would be a particular difference. It is the added value.”
Nairametrics was eager to know what her unique taste was and probed further. She wouldn’t tell but said Ghana spices were used to achieve the unique taste.
“Ghana spices are amazing, but I did a lot of samples with spices and kept experimenting till I came out with something unique. People ask what it is but I just term it my secret,” She said as she laughed.
Sold out at the Trade Fair
Akosua came to the Trade Fair with 6 cartons of the bigger sizes, containing 200 pieces of chips. She noted that since Saturday, the volume of sales had been high and all she was left with was what remained on her shelf the moment Nairametrics visited. She could not hide her amazement at how the Trade Fair had gifted her more partners, and several people jostling for partnerships, and training services.
“On Sunday, the demand was so high and I was amazed and this is what is left,” she said pointing at the remaining products for display.
“Someone asked me to leave a carton and today I have just brought everything out and by tomorrow, I am done,” she added.
She noted that the cartons mostly had the bigger sizes that contained 200 pieces and she was just showcasing some of her other branded items the day Nairametrics visited. She was surprised how Nigerians accepted the products
“I have sold over 200 containers and like 100 of pouches I used in packaging the products.”
She noted that the prices of her chips went from 200 to N2000. The one of N2000 had a bar of extra chocolate as a souvenir from Ghana.
Plans for expansion
She hinted at plans of exporting and opening a branch in Nigeria instead of relying on her overwhelmed Ghana team to meet up with her new demands.
“I have registered with Ghana Export Promotion where I am thinking of exporting it but I came to sample in Nigeria to get feedback. People have accepted the product and they want to patronise me and do business. We are still talking,” she concluded.
She also added that a few people had asked her to train them and she was open to welcoming some students to Ghana for a month’s training and then getting a team in Nigeria to produce for the Nigerian market.
How MSMEs can get easy access to finance
MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness.
MSMEs are considered the backbone of the Nigerian economy. In 2019, they made up 90% of all registered businesses, contributed more than 50% of the country’s nominal GDP, and employ 84% of its labour force. Despite this, MSMEs were the recipients of less than 5% of all credit granted by the banking industry.
One reason for this is self-selection by MSME owners. Many MSMEs refuse to apply for loans from banks due to a fear of rejection and a belief that banks charge exorbitant fees and request hefty collateral before giving loans to MSMEs. Now more than ever, in this era of cashflow-based lending and low-interest rates, this harmful myth is costing businesses access to finance that they need to scale.
Another reason is the MSMEs’ lack of loan readiness. Unlike large companies, small business owners do not prepare themselves before applying for loans. This causes them to make many mistakes that discourage banks from lending to them due to a fear of non-repayment.
In order to overcome this hurdle and join large businesses in taking advantage of the low-interest climate, MSMEs must take the following steps for loan readiness:
1. Maintain financial records – Research shows that 69% of MSMEs in Nigeria do not keep detailed financial records. As a business owner, you must ensure that funds pass through your business account. Your business’s financial records as reflected in your bank statement will help your bank determine your repayment capacity. This is important, whether you want a collateral-free or collateral-based loan.
2. Use narrations for transfer into personal accounts – Again, always use your business account for business funds. However, if funds must be paid into your personal account for any reason, then ensure that those payments have a narration that reflects the purpose of the payment. For example, Two shirts purchased. This helps isolate business funds from personal when computing your turnover in order to determine your loan amount and repayment capacity.
3. Know what you want – Always know exactly how much you want and what you want it for. If your account officer asks you how much you want and you say “any amount you can give me”, they automatically assume you have no plan for the money or a plan for repayment. Before approaching your bank, determine how much you need and how much you can repay per month, using your monthly income.
4. Have a repayment plan – Always have a plan for repayment. Know how much you can afford to part with per month. Note however that your repayment plan might not align with that of the bank. Banks prefer not to take more than 33% of your monthly income in loan repayments, so your loan repayment period will probably be dependent on how much you can pay per month. Regardless, a well-thought-out repayment plan will build confidence in your repayment ability.
5. Engage your account officer– It is important to have an engagement with your account officer before applying for the loan. Instead of just writing a loan application letter to the bank and waiting for a response. Armed with your financial statement and your knowledge of how much you need and for how long, visit your account officer and have them work with you in getting your loan.
Ese Atakpu is a writer and banker.
AFEX raises $50 million to Finance Agri-SMEs in Nigeria
The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the agric sector.
AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited (AFEX), a private commodities exchange company, has announced the first Warehouse Receipt Backed Commercial Paper in Africa. The paper has tech-enabled operations and a 24-hour fast cash turnaround for borrowers.
This was disclosed by AFEX in a statement issued and seen by Nairametrics on Thursday.
The $50 million Agri-SMEs fund is expected to bridge the funding gap between lenders and borrowers in the Nigerian agricultural sector with a commodity-backed instrument – for the first time.
Ayodeji Balogun, CEO, AFEX, stated, “The AFEX financing deal will help eradicate the high cost of procurement incurred by processors by deploying a discounted value of a warehouse receipt distributed among five leading players in the Food and Beverage, Trading Poultry and Animal Feed segments in Nigeria.
“The receiving companies are top 10 players in their respective segments. They have now been enabled access to a tool for managing price volatility, enabling up to 30% direct savings on prices.
“With our vision to reach a cumulative total of over $5 Billion in investment to the agriculture sector over the next five years, this financing deal is right on track to achieve this goal.’’
He added that as AFEX move towards building a derivatives market in Africa, “we want to be able to reduce exposure to price risk for stakeholders, by enabling them to hedge their positions and trade in commodity derivatives.”
Why it matters
- The warehouse receipts, which can then be transferred from commodities to a financial asset and listed under the borrower’s portfolio on the AFEX trading platform, will create a sustainable funding structure and address underfunding in the Nigerian agricultural sector.
- With the warehouse receipt system linked to financiers, the system allows financiers value and marks the commodities’ price to market on a real-time basis.
What you should know
- AFEX’s mission is to provide low-risk working capital facility for stakeholders in the Agro sector, in a way that is transparent and has a very high viable investment return.
- As a licensed commodities exchange and warehouse receipt system operator, it deploys a warehouse receipt system and collateral management infrastructure to increase market confidence for both lenders and borrower.
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