African Dream: Tips from Ghana's banker turned shoemaker
Fred Deegbe is a former Ghanaian banker who decided to take on the world's leading shoe brands by teaming up with a friend in 2011 to start Heel The World - a high-end shoemaking company based in Accra.
As part of the latest series of African Dream, the young entrepreneur, who now has 13 full-time employees and a passion to improve the quality of shoes made in Ghana, shares some of his 10 top tips for success:
- Competition is always good but not easy to handle. Chinese goods on the market have never been my worry - I make sure that my company constantly churns out beautiful products in order to get the desired attention
- It is very important to emphasise quality over quantity
- One of the key strategies I have had from the start is to focus on niche markets
- Better branding and marketing of my products is an area where I have put in a lot of time and investment too. We market our products primarily through social media - and word of mouth
- From the start of my business it was set in stone that products made by my company would be crafted by hand rather than machine-made
- Treat clients as your friends: This is crucial and I made sure that I engrained it into the minds of my team so that there is trust and loyalty between the customers and the business
- Use locally acquired materials. It is important that through my business I support other local industries
- Have a social cause that your local clients can buy into. Because of low employment rates among youths and a lack of training for entrepreneurs, we have created a division that empowers people who want to become entrepreneurs. We hold start-up work shops and give regular talk at schools, universities and even corporate bodies in Ghana such as UT Bank
- Invest in the wealth of local talent with world class potential. We hire and collaborate with all sorts of creative people we believe can compete globally. We also run internships for people who want to learn bespoke shoe-making and leather work.
- We champion the made in Ghana/Africa campaign - especially for the export market We value our own products and have over the years campaigned that it is wholly and totally a local product. Our beads are made of recycled glass and recycled brass.