On June 25th our France-based but Africa-operating TFF Regional Coordinator Maame Ekua Manful traveled from the city of Lille to a small German town called Witzenhausen to share her experience as an entrepreneur and founder in front of international students pursuing food and agricultural studies at the University of Kassel. Witzenhausen is where the University’s Campus for Sustainable Agriculture is located, currently engaging around 1000 national and international students. Maame was invited by Ohemaa Agbolosoo-Mensah, a TFF Ambassador and Master’s student of Sustainable Food Systems at the University of Kassel.
By Ohemaa Agbolosoo-Mensah, TFF Ambassador
“If you don’t have an admission to medical school but have a passion for food, why don’t you become a food doctor?,” with this question Maame, CEO and Founder at Sweetpot Yoghurt with which she became a Finalist in the 2018 TFF Challenge, opened up her talk about Innovation and Entrepreneurship on the evening of June 25th. In fact, it was her mum who asked her the exact same question back when her dreams of becoming a medical doctor shattered. Triggered by her mum’s advice she founded Sweetpot Yoghurt shortly after. With her startup Maame invented a delicious natural yoghurt fortified with orange sweet potato, which is a nutrient-dense root vegetable and traditional food in her home country Ghana. The fortified sweet potato yoghurt is a highly sustainable, healthy and convenient solution to tackle the widespread Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) amongst children and women in African countries.
Becoming a first-time entrepreneur, Maame herself went through a learning curve of testing, failing and succeeding. An experience she shared with the twenty international students from the University of Kassel, letting them in on the opportunities of becoming an entrepreneur themselves. Entrepreneurship is an adventure which comes with a lot of questions, such as: Can I become an entrepreneur right after finishing a University Degree? When is the perfect time to start your own business? How do I get started?
“Becoming an entrepreneur is a step everyone can make, but the challenging part is to really achieve your dreams and not lose sight of them,” says Maame.
Without any doubt, the first and most important step to becoming an entrepreneur is to get into an entrepreneurial mindset and habits. As a millennial entrepreneur who has had her fair share of mishaps, Maame gave her five best tips on how to adapt and maintain such an entrepreneurial mindset.
- Just do it. It is one thing to have an idea, and it is another thing to put an idea into action. Courage to fail and to test new things is what will teach you most in your personal and professional life.
- Be passionate about your project. Entrepreneurship is not a career, but a passion and obsession. Only with passion you will find motivation to wake up every day, commit time to your project and believe in what you do. Your work will be your hobby, and challenges will seem smaller than they are.
- Hustle and be proactive. As an entrepreneur it is expedient to have a hustling mindset. You will get to a point where you will need to brace yourself for coming storms while working independently until a team is formed.
- Your team is your biggest asset. Teamwork is key, you won’t get far being a jack of all trades. Delegate tasks and make sure you have complementary skill-sets in your team to support each other.
- Build a support system around you. Join a community of fellow entrepreneurs and find like-minded innovators who you can connect with on a regular basis. Share your doubts, fears and successes with them and learn from each other’s experiences.
Are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur yourself? Join the 2019 TFF Challenge – we’re calling on the world’s most creative next-gen innovators to step up and develop the bold ideas we need to help create more sustainable, resilient and inclusive food systems around the world!