Barrier Breaker of the Month of June 2020
The Barrier Breaker of the month of June Is….
Belinda Naa Otu founder of BelsGoat who resides in Ghana, West Africa.
Jois: Welcome to the Barrier Breakers Corner. Thank You for wanting to do this interview with me, I am really grateful.
Belinda: Thank you for having me.
Jois: Apart from BelsGoat, is there anything else you’re doing?
Belinda: Currently I am working as a Credit Administrator with Forms Capital Limited.
Jois: Were you working with this company when you started Bels Goat?
Belinda: Yes I was. I am actively working and doing this on the side.
Jois: What inspired you to start Bels Goat?
Belinda: My love for Goat meat ooo… lol.
Belinda: Every friday we eat fufu (a Ghanaian dish) in our office. At the end of the month there’s goat light soup on our menu which excites me. Whenever I finish eating, I’ll compliment the Chef. So anytime it’s fufu, they will tell me ‘Eii today we’re cooking your special food’ and I will post my goat light soup on my whatsapp status. During the Christmas season too, I shop for goat meat and that’s what we eat at home.
Jois: Oh wow.
I had to put the link for Ndudu by Fafa’s recipe because even though I am not a fan of goat meat, her recipe is incredible. http://ndudu-by-fafa.blogspot.co.uk/2…
Belinda: In 2018 before the Christmas season I decided to go into the goat meat business, the reason being, anytime I post on my whatsapp status, I always get good feedback from my friends who also like goat meat. So that’s where the inspiration came from. Something I love to eat.
Jois: Did you ever think of having a business selling goat meat?
Jois: LOL. Did you ever think that you would be a Business woman doing something other than what you’re doing now?
Belinda: No. As a Credit Administrator, that has always been my fear because I always handle people’s loans and facilities. If someone is earning this much and the person is still coming for loans, for me that meant, it will be very difficult because I don’t like selling and when people owe you it’s sometimes very difficult to get your money back. So I never thought of becoming an Entrepreneur. Coming out to sell goat meat and doing credit, I realized that every business has its own dynamics. That was my challenge, having to sell on credit. But with the meat that I sell, you have to pay before we deliver. I think I have fought that battle of having to call people to make payments.
Jois: I think that makes sense. When you go to the market to buy something, you don’t tell the person I’ll pay later. I mean what you’re selling is not something big like a house or car that you have to pay in installments. (I believe if the option to pay in installments was available, some people will take it. Lol)
Jois: When you started, did you have any staff?
Belinda: I started alone, with a farmer. I outsourced someone’s farm when I was starting because I didn’t have all the animals but whenever I had an order, I’d go pick up from his farm. He later got me a butcher, then I started getting delivery guys. Currently I have ten (10) delivery guys working for me and one butcher, we are growing.
Jois: That’s great, ten (10) Delivery Guys?
Belinda: Yes, because I have added seafood, snails and pork.
Jois: You started with someone’s farm but now you have your own farm.
Belinda: Yes I do. Currently I have 17 goats on my farm.
Jois: Are they both male and female?
Belinda: Yes both male and female. I get my goats from the North.
Jois: Oh Okay.
Belinda: We have the West African Dwarf – the one that smells very much. It grows in the North
Jois: I really hate that smell, That’s the reason why I don’t like goat meat. The smell is too strong.
Belinda: That’s a special delicacy for Ghanaians so we focus on it because that’s the one most people want.
Jois: That smell put me off goat meat. (I have cooked with it a couple of times because my dad wanted goat meat soup. fyi I don’t like anything with a strong smell e.g. some perfumes; I get migraines. So I am not a perfume person)
Belinda: Without the smell, it’s not goat meat. LOL.
Jois: LOL. Do you get it from Bolgatanga in the North?
Belinda: No, we get it from Waa.
Jois: I only know Bolgatanga that’s why I’m saying that. LOL
Belinda: lol, Waa or Tamale
Jois: Do you pay the delivery guys as well.
Belinda: I outsource them. My main aim of doing the business is not for me alone to gain from it. It is to enrich the lives of other people too. While I’m growing, they are growing too.
Jois: Yeaaaaaaaaa. That is a very important point. I think everyone needs to know that.
Belinda: When you pay me for your meat, you also pay the delivery guys cash. As a result of this, they are always ready to go. I do not pay them. For example if a customer wants Tilapia, I will give the delivery guy the location, he will go and pick the order and deliver it to the customer. He’ll charge based on the location of the customer. So I call my customer and tell them, then the customer will pay them cash when they (delivery guy) gets there.
Jois: That makes sense too because here in the USA where I used to work before, the owner will pay the delivery guys a minimum wage and then when they go and deliver, the customer may or may not give them tips. (Note that these delivery guys also help in the store so there’s a need for minimum wage whereas in Belinda’s case they just deliver). Though in the U.S. some companies charge customers for delivery but others don’t however, anytime delivery guys deliver, they will most likely get a tip. But what you’re saying makes sense too because they will also make money out of delivering too.
Belinda: And they can also grow their business.
Belinda: They come with excitement anytime I call them and they are always ready to go.
Jois: Yeaaaaa. That’s something I also try to do with Barrier Breakers Corner, I make sure that I am not doing everything myself. First of all I do not have the time because I work a 9-5 but I plan myself and ensure I am delivering. So when it comes to other things such as video editing I give it to someone else. I could have done it myself but it takes time and I am always doing something either for me, for church or sometimes for work and any free time I get I like to rest, watch a movie or hang out with friends (which almost never happens lol, but I am learning to take time out for me; it is important). So I’d rather give that task to someone else. I also look for someone already doing something in that area and also see if their work is good and then push it to them. That way I am supporting someone else’s business. I think that’s very important.
Jois: Because not everyone has the money and if someone is good at what they do and willing to help, I think you should be able to help and support them by paying them. That is very important.
Belinda: One key thing I do with the tilapia and snails is that I also outsource them. I am helping to grow their business by giving them business. So I get a little commission on it.
Jois: That is very good.
Belinda: So with the snail and tilapia, I don’t have them in stock; I just call and they work it out for me. They are women so they are happy. Anytime I get there they are excited. I always tell them they shouldn’t worry, anytime I get customers, I’ll call them. That’s my aim. I want to see BelsGoat grow to a standard where I have a lot of women under my umbrella that are growing too.
Jois: That is Awesome. On the profile you sent me, I saw that you have mentors. Why do you think you need mentors for BelsGoat.
Belinda: When I won the Business Pitch Competition, it came with a package. When I started Bels Goat, I didn’t have anybody, I was just doing it on my own, using my own wisdom and friend’s advice. So when I won the competition I was given these mentors to take me through for a year to see that BelsGoat goes to an international standard. They are taking me through branding, pricing, what it entails to get a shop and also helping me to seek financing. But because of Covid-19 it’s on hold for now, we cannot have our meetings.
Jois: Oh Okay. Can you tell me more about the competition you won.
Belinda: The Business Pitch Competition was organized by Empowerment Worship Center (EWC) in Accra, Ghana especially for youth in business. It was supposed to be a business talk where individuals who are successful in business came and talked to us about business and some of the challenges they face as Christians and how you can manage your Business and Christian life. During the program they announced that there is going to be a business pitch. They needed individuals who could talk about their businesses and the Head Pastor was going to award the winners. So I applied. When I got to the event the lady who was registering people took my name out because she said I’m selling goats.
Jois: Oh Wow.
Belinda: She said she did not understand it because my profile was about selling goats. She then asked me to explain what my business was about which I did and she was like “wow, wow”. That’s when she added me to the competition. This was about 11 am and the presentations started at 1 pm. Everyone competing had slides but I had pictures on my phone. So I went outside during the program to prepare for my five (5) minutes pitch. We only had 5 minutes to talk about our business in front of the whole congregation and how far we’ve gotten to so we could get funding. About 3 o’clock it was my turn and I did my presentation. Mine ended up lasting for twenty (20) minutes because everyone was amazed at what I did. They loved the fact that a woman was selling goats and so many questions were asked. At the end of the day I won the competition with three others. The others that won were into Agriculture, Building and Technology.
Jois: Why do you think that lady took you out at first?
Belinda: She said because it’s a business pitch and she was looking at businesses such as Technology, Building etc. She had received a lot of applications and she separated the ones that she understood from the ones she did not. Meanwhile I sent a profile of a farm stating that I was selling goats, people buy and I deliver etc. etc. It was when I sat with her one on one and further explained to her that she understood and added me to the competition. I believe sometimes presentation is also key. She showed me how to even present myself and that was what I used for the pitch. I did not have a slide, I just had pictures of the farm which I showed them and explained how I did my packaging and delivery and that was how by the Grace of God I won the competition.
Jois: Congratulations. If you did not have Mentors would you have been able to come this far?
Belinda: From 2018 to 2019, I was doing everything by myself and sometimes sought advice from friends but having these Mentors after the competition helped me a lot. They tried to shape me in terms of branding and customer preposition. I have a database of all my clients with their necessary information; so I’m building on my clientele. One of my Mentors also taught me product math, that is the pricing, the purpose etc. So currently I’m coming out with a certain strategy. Without these Mentors, I would not have been able to do all those things. One of my first strategies was the Mother’s day hampers. Before Mother’s day, I came out with a flier, a budget specific hamper of 150 Ghana Cedis (GHC) which went very well. I had four customers in the diaspora that contacted me to deliver to their parents in Ghana.
Jois: That’s very good.
Belinda: The strategy really helped. Even though I am selling in Ghana, I have been able to reach out to people outside Ghana and deliver to their families in Ghana.
Jois: How do they pay you?
Belinda: They pay me via mobile money and Zip Pay. So currently I have clients in the US, Canada and currently talking to one in the UK.
Jois: Wow, your business is expanding. Can you tell me some of the challenges you’ve faced in this business.
Belinda: My only challenge currently is my delivery and my days of delivery. For example if someone wants something and the person wants it ASAP it’s a little bit difficult because we do not keep the meat frozen, it’s always fresh. So once you tell us we have to work on it. Our down time is what is pulling us down but normally I speak to my clients; if you order it today, you get it tomorrow and that’s for the goat meat but for the seafood it is ‘same day’ delivery.
Jois: Prior to now did you face any challenges?
Belinda: The challenges I faced were theft related cases and because of that I do not keep a large number of goats. I only do during the festive seasons.
Jois: Okay. What encouragement can you give to people out there that will help them Break Barriers.
Belinda: Everybody should find their passion and what they love to do. This makes work easier for you. I never thought of having my own business, it just came out of a passion and love for something. Just have a dream and focus on God. Like I told my friends, BelsGoat came out of a dream from God. We had a program at church one day and when I got there, I helped in arranging and preparing for the program. After the program when I went home to sleep, I had a dream about this goat business. So I know that this business is from God. Look at the testimonies and how far God has brought me. When God places something on your heart to do or gives you a business, He gives you the resources and the right people to connect you to where you have to go. We do not do any adverts, it’s just friends and friends of friends, Whats App, Church Members etc. It makes work easy and within a week, someone will give you a call and business will start coming in. As a Christian, you can’t take your Christianity out of your Business. Whatever Business that you have, commit it to God. I pray for my business at the beginning of every month and commit my customers into the hands of God. At the end of the month, I also pay my tithe faithfully.
Jois: Yeaaaa. This is great.
Belinda: These are things that when I do, just open doors for me. Through the goat services, I have been able to meet and serve different people, Personalities that I may never have met on a normal day.
Jois: That is very true.
Belinda: You can be passionate about something and even start from your room; that is how I started, look at how far I have come. Some people call me and I don’t even know them, It is when I go and deliver that I know who they are. Others ask me to deliver to their parents and I don’t even know who they are. I get there and realize these are huge Personalities in our country. So something can become a dream but it depends on how you go about it. And if you have God, you’ll break all limitations and nothing becomes a limitation for you. I never thought I would ever stand in a church like the Empowerment Worship Center (EWC) and make a presentation to a lot of people. Prophet Gideon has become one of my very good friends because of this goat business.
Jois: Lol. I love EWC, I like to listen to them as well. I even have a friend here from EWC. What I have learnt from what you said is, when God gave you a dream, you went about it. This is very important that as soon as you have an idea, a dream, a passion tugging on you, especially if it is a God idea, sometimes you do not even need too much prayer. As soon as the idea comes to mind you need to be obedient because if you do not, the people that have been lined up for you at the right time, you might miss them. If you had not started BelsGoat and delayed it, I do not think you would have been part of the Business Pitch Competition nor would you have had any Mentors helping you out now. It’s very important to take that step of faith as soon as you can or when led to. It’s not always easy but one just has to put a foot in front of the other.
Belinda: Yes. Another key thing is that I started this business without capital. When I met the goat farmer, he was ready to give it to me on credit and ‘pay as you go’. So I started telling people I was selling goats but I did not have capital. When people paid me I used the money to pay the goat seller. There should be a push; you might not have it all at the beginning but something should push you. Like I said God will give you the right people that you need for the business to grow.
Jois: So is your business registered now?
Belinda: Yes it is. For me I thought I was doing something small in my own little corner. But after winning the competition, I had to register it because I was going to seek funding so they needed to see all these things.
Jois: Okay. Do you have any last comments.
Belinda: The only thing I will say is that as a woman, you should not see anything as a limitation. No business is too small for a woman to do. Also we should not look too far regarding our faith in God and what we are asking in prayer. God’s faithfulness and His answer to our prayers can be very close. It can even be in the minute things that we do not even think of. We’re expecting God’s goodness or faithfulness to come in something big but a little door is just the first step of faith you need to take. Our faith in God should not go weary even though sometimes our expectation in Him can be too much. Even if God connects you with one person, you should see that as His faithfulness or an answered prayer. We should also pay our tithes regularly, once you do that, doors just open up for you.
Jois: Trueeeee. Thank you for taking time out to do this interview. I really appreciate it.
Belinda: Thank you too.
Proverbs 13:12 – Hope deferred makes the heart weary/sick; But when desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.
Isaiah 40:31 – But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.