- Awo’s story.
Awo has just found out that her husband of four years, with whom she lived under the same roof for all these while, had another wife of ten years. Devastated, she confronted the man. This turned into a terrible fight between her and her husband, leading to a divorce. Her husband left her and their only child in their rented room, taking away everything including the light bulbs.
Awo had not been allowed by her ex-husband to do any work when they got together. Awo loved doing business. In fact, her passion was business; and her dream was to become a top Ghanaian businesswoman one day. But she had to obey her husband so she stopped the work she had been doing. When the relationship broke down, the man left them no money to live on. What she heard him say when he was finally leaving the house was “you will suffer”.
Life became very tough for Awo and her son. Food to eat was sometimes a problem; she would give the small food that was left for the day to the small boy and drink water when going to bed. But she promised herself she was not going to give up. Her son was not going to be a loser under her watch.
She had saved some money before getting married and because her husband forbade her from doing any work she left it in her account. After a few weeks of deliberations, she withdrew the money and started what was then called “Togo trade”. She would wake up at dawn to take a bus from Takoradi to Aflao, enter Lome and sometimes Benin, to buy goods, mostly jewellery and return that same day through Aflao and back to Takoradi at dawn of the following day, exhausted. She would then distribute the wares to workers in offices, taking part of the money and leaving the rest to take at the end of the month and sometimes at the end of two months.
One year later, half of her capital was gone. The customers were not paying back as she expected. Some blatantly refused to pay while those paying did so at their own pace. She became desperate. She went to the ex-husband for money for the upkeep of their son. The man drove her out of his house with a smirk on his face. On her way back home she nearly got knocked down by a vehicle because her mind was full of many thoughts, both negative and positive.
By the time she got home she resolved that her ex was not going to defeat her. She decided to take him to court. Meanwhile, she was under pressure to find a meaningful life for herself and her son. The boy was three years and needed to start school.
The landlord observed the situation and wanted to take advantage of it. He proposed to her; clearly stating that she would live in her room free if she accept his proposal. She refused.
She approached a micro finance company for a loan but was turned down. She was told she could not take any money immediately unless she had saved there for not less than six months. She decided to go hard on her customers who refused to pay for the wares they bought. She reported them to their bosses most of whom did not take kindly to their subordinates’ misbehaviour. And within a short time she got her capital back. She enquired from her customers what else they would have preferred to the jewellery, to which they promptly answered, cell phones.
Awo came to Accra one weekend to look for cell phones. Upon advice from one of the sellers, she bought a few cell phones to try the Takoradi market. She was quiet surprised at the response of her customers towards the phones. Some took two and others took three. And some of them even paid outright.
Awo saw the light in cell phone sales and when the jewellery got finished she converted the whole business into phone sales. Business was growing and the bank where she saved called to offer her a loan, which she promptly took. She bought land and was about to start a building when disaster struck.
Awo’s business was growing from a small scale to what could be described as medium scale. She was mindful of cost so she had no shop and no warehouse. She was acutely aware of how much money could go into rental of a shop and a warehouse. So, she always kept her wares in her bedroom. She had just returned from Accra with a new stock of phones and had a problem with the light in her bedroom. She called an electrician to do the repair work for her. The following day thieves broke into her bedroom and made away with all the phones. The police could not help her retrieve the phones as the electrician who she suspected, denied stealing the phones upon arrest and interrogation by the police. Awo was back to square one.
As she lay on her bed to reflect on her life, her son who was now eight years old, came back from school and told her the school authorities were demanding payment of his school fees. She had forgotten to pay the boy’s school fees for the term.
She got up from the bed, reminding herself that she had a duty of care to the boy’s future. She went to her bank’s manager and narrated her story. The manager was sympathetic. She had almost finished paying her loan so a top-up loan was arranged for her. She went round and collected the money owed her by her customers, added it to the new loan and went back to business.
It has been seventeen years since Awo and her husband divorced. She never remarried. She now has her own house. A story building, part of which she rented out.. Her son was now in the university. Her ex-husband came to the house a few times to see his son whenever school was on break. He even borrowed money twice from her. When he made the third attempt she refused. He had not paid back what he had taken. He was showing signs of coming back into her life. Awo saw it and told him not to come to the house anymore. He could meet his son anywhere else.
- What is Perseverance?
Perseverance is a firm persistence that is exhibited in a course of action, especially in spite of difficulties, impediments, or discouragement.
Awo exhibited perseverance in the course of the herculean tasks she faced when trying to organise her own life and business. Her determination not to give up made her finally prevail.
Taking a look at the letter S, it is easy to see struggles at the bottom. This is where most of the energy of human efforts are applied; and many businesses or endeavours fail here because of inability to sustain in the presence of difficulties that are faced. About ninety-five percent of start-up businesses fail here. There is the need to frequently go back to the drawing board whilst keeping in mind the psychology of difficulties of start-up business.
Those able to overcome the difficulties then move to the part of the letter S which looks exponential. Indeed businesses which overcome initial difficulties grow exponentially here.
- Do you have the energy to persevere?
Do your own self-assessment:
Do you reflect upon the way you handle issues that show signs of failure?
Do you take responsibility for your own actions?
How do you feel when you fail?
Bear this in mind: If you fall down and remain on the floor you will be equated to a dead body!