Welcome to the first edition of Africa Rising, a project earmarked to celebrate young people from across the African Continent who are contributing to the rise of Africa.
For Africa to rise into a superpower on the globe, young people from across its many countries will need to step up and create entrepreneurial ventures that create jobs and improve their communities.
Our first interviewee is the young and terrific Adowarim Lugu-Zuri, a 21 year old Ghanaian. As a student and entrepreneur, she combines two of the busiest careers in the world. She is the CEO of Wazuri Ghana Limited, a company involved in large scale commercial coconut sales and plantations. With the biggest market in Accra, Wazuri Ghana employs many youths around Ghana and elsewhere in Africa.
I first met Adowarim during a the Barclays Bank Blazing Trails program where she had been invited to tell her business story to the attendants, as well as sell her coconut.
Below is my interview of her where she explains her vision for Africa and her inspiration for starting Wazuri Ghana. The interview has been edited for clarity.
1. Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Adowarim Lugu-zuri and I am a Ghanaian from the Northern Region of Navrongo. I started school from Navrongo before I came to Accra to continue my education. I completed my primary school at Grace Preparatory School and Junior High School at the Junior High School in Accra. Afterwards, I entered Archbishop Porter Girls school for my senior high school and studied Home Science. Currently, I am a student of Consumer Science at the University of Ghana.
My career so far has not been as I thought it would be. When I was a kid, I did not even know that entrepreneurship was a career option. I wanted to be a doctor like my father but change came and directed me towards being an entrepreneur.
2. How did you end up starting Wanzuri Ghana?
It all started when I was selling bags of sachet water from my room at University. I was excited by the little profit I was earning from my venture. I remember buying myself some chicken wings and fried rice to celebrate my progress after three weeks into my water business.
I later went into selling fabric-made shirts. I took them from a friend at school and sold them during our long school break. After sometime, I quickly realized that I had to dream bigger if was to make more money. I decided to start my coconut venture and have never looked back.
I come from a large family of nine and they have been very supportive of my entrepreneurial journey. I like to think outside the box and aspire to leave a positive legacy everywhere I go.
3. How was growing up in Africa for you?
Interesting question. This is the first time I have thought of such a question but growing up in Africa for me had been one of the best things that ever happened to me.
I once read a book which said “before we were born we decided where we wanted to be”. So according to the author, the decision I made before my birth was a very wise one. I think my family has played a big part in shaping me into a person with strong values. Early on, they inculcated into me a sense of discipline, respect for others and adaptability and these have really helped make my life easier and more fun.
4. What do you do to change Africa?
I am still learning from my experiences.
I started doing business in order to augment the small stipend my parents gave me but I am now doing it passionately to create employment for myself and others as a way of reducing unemployment especially among Ghanaian youth.
I am also networking with others to exchange ideas as a means of enhancing my knowledge, and therefore to progress faster in my ventures.
5. What motivated you to take up that role?
The passion to do something and be on the top of it has been my source of motivation. The rates of unemployment have also been a worry to me. Seeing so many people finish school with very good grades and yet get no jobs makes life very difficult since those people become very dependent on government for jobs, which are not enough.
Over the years, my definition of success has changed a lot. Today, my definition of success is not having luxury cars and sleeping in the most beautiful houses but the ability to make others smile and put food on their table by paying them.When I pay my workers the smile on their faces alone brings me joy because they will be able to fend for themselves and their families.
Lastly I am also motivated by knowing that Wazuri Ghana brings quality and healthy products to the Ghanaian market.
6. What have been the successes of your initiatives?
I have been able to create employment for more than 20 youths and still counting. I have also been a great inspiration and mentor to my classmates and others as they are motivated to take the path I have chosen for myself.
7. What inspires you about Africa?
The fact that all the hope for development is staring at you in the face and all the opportunities to develop Africa are waiting for us to take advantage of.
8. Do you think that Africa is really rising?
Yes. I believe that Africa’s time is now. With so many young and energetic young people, and the changing perspectives about Africa from the West and other countries, I believe that Africa’s potential for economic growth has no bounds.
9. What are we not doing to contribute to it (Africa Rising) as Africans?
Corruption is stagnating our rise because it is diverting resources for the poor and marginalized into the wrong places that is preventing our development.
Africa is also lacking the appropriate leadership, because our leaders are not focused.
10. Which other African Inspires you and why?
Dr. Michael Agyekum of KAMA Group of Companies in Ghana. Upon hearing his story on how he started and where he is today, it shows that nothing is impossible as long as as you are determined and focused.
We hope you have been inspired by this story and ideologies to take your dream to greater heights.