Yvonne Amankwah is a young leader passionate about her contributions to societal issues and education for the less privileged. What struck SLA contributor Ugochi Obidiegwu most about her business is the fact that Yvonne made a conscious decision to involve people living with disabilities.
This is something a lot of people do not consciously think about.
Tell us about your educational background
I am blessed to have practical experience in corporate work, communication and societal development works which enable me to effectively contribute to solving problems. I had the opportunity to learn and develop my leadership skills from President Obama’s YALI initiative Nigeria cohort-1 and my engagements as the ex-president of Enactus Radford University College chapter broadened my scope.
Recently, I completed my basic knowledge in Deutsch at Goethe Institute. I also hold a first degree BSc in Business Administration where I majored in human resource. During my degree program, I successfully combined my studies with work, showing I could to be self-motivated, organized, capable of working independently and able to utilize my skills and abilities effectively.
Why did you choose to work with Special staff?
90 percent of the time, when there is an employment opportunity the last people we look at employing are people with disabilities. A lot of organizations in Ghana prefer to work with able-bodied individuals whereas there is less consideration for the Special people.
This is what motivated me to carve my niche by working with people with disability. I feel they can be powerful when empowered to do more for themselves. I am deeply committed to training people with disabilities giving them an opportunity to better their lives.
How do you communicate to ensure your desired business goals are achieved?
The importance of communication cannot be overstated therefore it’s one of the ways business goals can be achieved. For the speech and hearing impaired we provide a note taker, a sign language interpreter, written materials or printed scripts.
In some situations, we keep paper on hand so the person can write out words that staff cannot understand. Besides, we use training videos which is very useful where interpretations may not be available.
What led you to start your own business?
A few years ago, I learnt an important lesson from my entrepreneurship lecturer back in college, Mr. Alan Dwomoh Sarpong which earned him the place as my mentor. He told me his secret to success was “looking at each day as a new opportunity to be your very best. Set high goals, be honest, never say no, and work with people who share your passion for doing their best”.My mentor's secret to success is looking at each day as a new opportunity to be your best Click To Tweet
Since then I injected this advice into my life as I try to live up to it every day. This was the realization of my dream that I could impact the lives of people by my handiwork. As the CEO of a new startup Vons Brands Limited, a detergent manufacturing company where we produce liquid soaps and home cleaning detergents, I find it important to teach others this trade so they can benefit from it.
I really love what I do and I try to surround myself with people who share similar interest. I thrive on this type of environment.
What are the challenges you have encountered in the course of doing business?
I believe entrepreneurship is much broader than creation of business, I define it as a mindset and a way of thinking and acting it but that notwithstanding, challenges are inevitable. I have many but I work hard to overcome them.
Finances, high-priced raw materials, distribution are just a few of the challenges but have managed to overcome them. I have a practical approach to problem-solving and a drive to see things through to completion.
One of my keys to thriving in my space is to learn from the failures of others by having the humility to learn from their mistakes. It has always led me to success. The dark side of being an entrepreneur can never be skipped, but there is always a way to survive the harsh realities of entrepreneurship. One has to learn to live with risk and always be ready to improve by challenging the usual.Entrepreneurship is broader than creation of business, I define it as a mindset Click To Tweet
Do you think the business environment is favourable to African young women?
The business environment is favourable to African women entrepreneurs who become the voices of change despite the challenges. These barriers can be broken through thought leadership. It’s time to fight the challenges to enhance our contribution to development in Africa.
At first, it’s difficult to break through but with time and consistency, you thrive in the business environment. There are a lot of opportunities for women to explore and be successful at, they should not be discouraged by the physical obstacles they see. They should rather feel empowered to overcome any challenge that sets in on their journey to success.
What would you advise a young woman who wants to start a business but is paralyzed by fear?
Fear is weakness! It cripples your ability to explore and be successful. Being bold is a new era. Get that weakness out of your mind and spirit. It only exists when you allow it into your thoughts.
Success and fear are enemies so you should always choose one side. Never be with the losing team which is fear. Get out of your closet, go out and make things happen because you can. The environment for women in entrepreneurship is great against all odds and this is the redefined power given to us women.
Women don’t lack confidence, don’t be paralyzed by fear it’s our to turn elevate our generation!
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