African women are naturally inventive, creative, and entrepreneurial – we aren’t the idle type. We work with our hands, minds, and wits. We find things we’re good at —even if it’s just a hobby.
If you’ve been to Makola market, in Ghana, you’ve seen the endless rows of stalls, tables, kiosks and booths of market women selling everything from baby diapers to tomatoes. There are usually rows of women selling the exact same thing within yards of each other. It struck me how they made a reasonable living selling goods and produce in a market that’s saturated with other merchants selling the same things.
Rather than dwell on the mysteries of Makola, I saw the poetry in their ways and learned a few lessons about business and life from these hardworking women.
1. Auntie Yaa shows up every single day
Auntie Yaa knows she has severe competition, after all, there’s nothing new under the sun. But in a crowded marketplace, victory goes to the person dedicated enough to show up every single day.
For many market women, like Auntie Yaa, that little stall of sundry provisions is all they have. Consistency is key. Their one chance of affording life’s bare necessities are contingent upon waking up earliest, showing up every day, and hustling like their lives depend on it.
2. Sisi Lola makes her presentation count
Sisi Lola knows when it comes to drawing in customers, it’s all about presentation. In a crowded market, your brand presentation is everything! Make sure your brand is visually pleasing and effectively communicates your message, and not just the product or service you’re selling but yourself, too.
Personal branding is very important in today’s global marketplace. The woman with the brightest Bubu, or the catchiest call, wins.
3. Learn to barter like Aminatta
Aminatta knows the value of trading without money. Exchanging what you have or your services, for needed services from another, is a good way to get your business off the ground and build connections with other business women.
Pay if you must, but barter if you can.
4. Mama Hajara keeps ‘em coming back with stellar customer service
A market is a busy place and everywhere, vendors are harping, buyers are haggling, and traffic is passing. Mama Hajara can bank on daily success because she keeps her customers coming back for superb customer service.
She goes beyond pleasantries and makes each one of her customers feel like a good friend. She knows their names, the names of their children, she may even know where they live. She stays in business by encouraging loyalty through friendliness. There’s no better way to ensure customer loyalty than stellar customer service.
5. Auntie Gloria keeps a Tight grip on her money belt
If there’s one thing you know about successful market women, it’s that they use knots in their cloth to manage their money. Being able to put your money in buckets allows you to see how much money is coming in and budget for continued business success.
Auntie Gloria keeps separate knots for covering costs, profit, savings, and business reinvestment and growth. Being financially savvy about your business is key to being a successful entrepreneur.
So Motherland Moguls, which hustle tactic can you start using to grow your business? Have any additional lessons to share?