The dream of many entrepreneurs is to invent something totally new or even a solution to a problem that no one has been able to resolve.
A lot of people, on a daily basis, want to go into business because they want to create niche to fill a gap in the market. But this gap can adequately be filled with an innovative product or service.
Being innovative is also about being creative, and creativity is the ability to do old things in a new way or to see new solutions to problems or to figure out different ways that things can work together.
An entrepreneur is described as being creative when he is able to identify a gap in the market and think up a product or service to meet that gap.
Creativity also has to do thinking beyond the standard of ordinary people.
Abednego Darko, Chief Executive Officer of Daresh Foods Limited said things may be created if they are looked at in a different way. For him, that is the essence of creativity.
Daresh Foods Limited is into the production of IceKay; a corn based local drink popularly known in Ghana as ice kenkey. Ice kenkey is normally produced and sold by individuals (mainly women) on a very small scale.
IceKay, which is the brand name of the product, is a drink suitable for a wide range of consumers including traders, nursing mothers and patients, and it’s processed from ‘Fante kenkey’ under very hygienic conditions.
It is packaged in 300 ml bottles and has a shelf life of seven days outside the fridge and one month when kept chilled in the fridge.
Abednego said he decided to produce IceKay to conveniently satisfy the needs of consumers.
The birth of IceKay
Abednego, whose mum used to sell ice kenkey in plastic bags said: “My mother sold Ice kenkey and I loved it. She prepares it early in the morning and sold them in her shop. I saw many people come for ice kenkey everyday, and I enjoyed selling it.
“My mum sold the ice kenkey in plastic rubbers, and I thought of ways that I could re-package the ice kenkey to make it more attractive and make it sell.
“Having completed the University and learnt from my mum how people enjoyed ice kenkey, I decided to carefully research and find out consumer’s perception about how they found the ‘ice kenkey’ in plastic bags.
“It was after the research that I found out that consumers did not feel comfortable handling the plastic rubbers, so I thought of ways to make consumers enjoy their favourite drink in a more convenient way.
“I therefore entered into a competition organised by Technoserve, which I ended up as one of the winners, with the ice kenkey idea. That therefore encouraged me to nurture the idea. So with the monetary support I had from the competition I put myself into making my idea of packaging ice kenkey in sachet rubbers a reality.”
He said ever since its introduction onto the market in 2008, the sale of IceKay has increased from 600 bottles per month to 4,800 bottles per month in 2011.
He explained that the product was doing well on the market because “considering the tropical sunny weather Ghana experiences, there is always the constant need to quench the thirst with something refreshing and satisfying. Among the most preferred beverages is Ice kenkey therefore the demand for the product”
Initially, the company had to deal with fermentation and bloating and it was able to overcome the challenge by getting a food scientist to help find ways to better preserve the product.
“We had to make sure the blending machine was well sterilized among other things to ensure our product was up to standard. We did this not only for our consumers to feel safe with our product, but make sure that it was well preserved and hygienic.”
The vision of the company is to be the leading company in indigenous foods and beverages in Ghana by 2020.
Its mission is to process, package and market quality local foods and drinks to satisfy the needs of its customers and increase shareholders profit.
The company started selling on a float (a truck with music) directly to customers. After realizing that they sold more in a day (on float) than the whole week, the company decided to concentrate on this strategy to increase sales to a minimum of 14,400 bottles a month and average sales of 36,000 bottles a month.
However the company’s sales target is 72,000 bottles a month. It has therefore adopted this strategy to increase its daily sales.
Daresh Foods has managed to achieve consistency in the quality of the product.
It has set up a factory with production capacity of 3,000 pieces of IceKay daily, entered key markets in Accra.
Abednego explained that “we will consolidate and increase our market share in Accra by securing a complete set of sound equipment and a truck to execute our direct sales strategy since we realized that the strategy is the best way to get our product across to our consumers who will need it.”