As one of the most celebrated student entrepreneurs from Ghana, Mabel Suglo, a Health Science Education student has been a leader in redefining the roles of students in national development with impacts across the African Continent.
With accolades from Anzisha Prize, and features on international media platforms, 23 year old CEO of Eco-Shoes now employs 15 people who work on her shoe manufacturing company in aid of the marginalised who can’t afford expensive footwear for work and school.
Name: Mabel Suglo
School: University for Development Studies
Course: Health Science Education
SYENET: Who inspired your entrepreneurial journey?
Mabel: I got inspired by the determination of my late grandmother of blessed memory to make her life count even though she was stigmatised and marginalised for being a leprous patient but with just a thumb could cultivate food crops to feed my mother and grandchildren.
SYENET: How did you raise your startup capital?
Mabel: Through personal savings, family and friends.
SYENET: What significant successes have you chalked so far in business?
Mabel: We have trained and created direct employment opportunities for 15 People with Disabilities (PWD’s). These 15 PWD’s are representing a household with an average of about 5 with a knock on effect of about 75people benefitting directly.
Eco-Shoes opens markets for artisans with disabilities to make shoes and other accessories to empower them in providing resources for themselves by equipping them with portable skills and being paid fair wages.
There are thousands of discarded tire stockpiles and other fabric waste which ends up in the waste stream in Ghana which poses environmental and health hazard. The production of these shoes and accessories are reducing waste by up cycling old materials such as car tires and fabrics, and creating jobs which benefit individuals and the communities in which they live which help our production infrastructure in Ghana
SYENET: How have you combined studies and work so successfully?
Mabel: I do so by using my time effectively and efficiently.
SYENET: What challenges do you face as a Student Entrepreneur and how do you overcome them
Mabel: The challenges I face are: being a female entrepreneur, a student and not knowing much about entrepreneurship which therefore doesn’t equip me with enough skills in raising funds for the business and lastly some challenges that are from within.
Like any other challenges that come in our daily lives, I learn to live with some whilst I develop working strategies to work through it.
SYENET: After School, what are your entrepreneurial plans?
Mabel: I will expand the scope of the company and reach out to more people with disabilities to get diversified shoemakers from multiple communities ensuring that we do not depend on only one source. This I will do by empowering them with the skills to manufacture quality shoes from recycled materials.
SYENET: What supports do you need to scale up your business?
Mabel: Well with most startup companies in developing countries like Ghana, funding will be needed
SYENET: What are the top 5 lessons you have learnt in business so far?
- Risk Taking: I have learnt to take great and calculated risk in achieving my goals.
- Passion for business: You need to have a real passion for what you are doing for the decisions you are making to be worth it. In business, making money should not be your motivation if not you will end up being disappointed.
- Accepting failure: I have learnt to accept the fact that failure is part of the journey, so when it comes you need to embrace it and learn from it.
- Time management: time lost cannot be replaced so it is better to manage your time efficiently and effectively to grow your business.
- Giving back to the society: it is better to always give back to the community that makes your business thrive as the benefits will always come back to bear on your business.
SYENET: What advice do you have for other students?
Mabel: So many people are afraid to get started because they think they need a lot to be somewhere and someone in this world. Don’t be afraid to start small. Everyone has to start somewhere, and don’t need a lot to do it. Just start now!!!!
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