Pure and Just Company Limited is an Agro-Processing Business headquartered in Bawe –Accra, Ghana, whose objective is to Catalyse Rural Potential with Climate Smart Agro-processes, primarily engaging in food production using climate-smart processes & farmer support and development.
Emmanuel Ampadu Junior, the company’s 27-year-old co-founder and Chief Operations Officer, says the idea/business started way back, when he was at Ashesi University, as a second-year student. He and his business partner by then, Sali Sam wanted to solve some problems in Berekuso, faced by farmers.
“What we wanted was to find a way to improve the farmers’ lives; thus the birth of this agri-business Initiative. First forward after school all the partners involved before decided that they wanted to pursue other interests. Then I was introduced to Yvette who is currently my business Partner and she is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Pure and Just, and I am the Chief Operations Officer. When we met, she had already started doing dried bananas and dried mangoes, while I was only doing dried pineapples. So the first day we met, she decided that we should merge” –Emmanuel reveals.
In a chat with Emmanuel, he shares with us the nitty gritty in running a business of this nature, its history, inspirations, achievements, and the ultimate knowledge that every youth who wants to add value to this world should not miss. The insights are truly mind boggling, and you won’t walk off this blog same way you came. Let’s get into it.
What inspired you to start the ‘Pure and Just’ Company Limited?
What inspired me most was that for most rural farmers, their standard of living is nothing to write home about and the potential we have in Africa when it comes to Agri-Business. And the wealth we can create through that, which can go down to the bottom line to affect the rural communities because that’s where most of our farming is.
What inspired the name of your company?
“Pure and Just Company Limited” – Actually my business partner came up with it. So, our flagship product is called Yvaya Farm; and its ‘dried fruits’. We do dried mangoes, dried pineapple, dried pawpaw, and dried banana.
So, my business partner came up with the name and I thought it was good because pure and just means; when we talk about ‘pure’ – we really want to come up with organic products, products that don’t have a lot of chemicals. We think about ‘from-farm-to-factory’ where there are no inorganic chemicals and no additives used on our fruits. We want to keep things natural. And when we talk about ‘just’, we just aim to be just to our farmers by giving them a fair mutually agreed price for their fruits. We want to also make sure that we are mindful of the environment. So that’s it. Yvaya Is an Adinkra symbol that means resilience. And so that’s the whole concept behind the name.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in running this business?
There are a lot of challenges when you are doing this kind of business in this part of our world. The major challenge is assets and capital yet we were privileged in that my business partner’s mom gave us our first starting capital. We have amazing advisers Kwame Williams and Peter Miller who have been there to train us. Kwame Williams is the founder of Moringa Connect and what they do is that they improve lives through the Moringa Tree; and he has been in the field for almost seven years so he was able to coach us so as not to make the mistakes that he made. Peter also, is a friend I met about five years ago, and he is the head of the Food Division for Moringa Connect. He has also helped us build systems that keep our business running. So, one of the challenges we face is uncertainty, not knowing which path to take, but having advisers or mentors to mentor you or advise you makes the journey easier.
Another challenge we always have; running such a business especially dry fruit which is not common in this part of the world is acceptability. A typical African has fruits because we are in the tropics where we can grow fruits all year round and so they don’t see the need to dry fruits. We have to convince them about the fact that ‘you need dry fruits and that it lasts for a long time’ that’s also another challenge.
Other challenges are the business environment, the policies, taxes, power/electricity, challenges with the smooth running of the business, and all that. So all these things, I think one word that can help you overcome these challenges is innovation. Always Innovate. Always be mindful of the fact that the environment can change. Be mindful of the fact that technology can change any time, knowledge is increasing, etc. So you must adjust. You must be resilient and you must continue to innovate, as it’s very important. So, these are some of the challenges we get and how we are able to overcome them.
How’s this Global lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic treating you; have you faced any setbacks yet?
This quarantine season, for us as a business, we were scaling up. We were at a very crucial point in our business where we were growing. And so we had to scale up. We did some fundraising, got some grant money and it was time to scale up and it was time to move into our own facility as we currently co-share a space that belongs to Moringa-Connect. We scaling up, having won a grant from Ghana Climate Innovation Centre. We were bringing in a dryer, and that dryer would have been powered by bio-gas and what happens is that the waste from the fruit that we cut, the peels, and the waste would be fed into the biogas to generate power to dry the fruits. What this quarantine has done is that it has delayed everything because our dryer coming in from South Africa has been delayed, the renovation work at the new site had to be put on hold, and then also, having to… you know we supply to a few clients in Europe, and their orders had to be put on hold.
Apart from that, we were afoot ahead – a step forward. We had a lot of stock before this whole pandemic and so what we did is that we halted production so that our workers are not at the risk of contracting the disease and we are just trying to push sales because we had enough stock. So, it’s not really affecting us. This is actually an advantage because raw fruits are perishable and during this lock-down season, people need the fruits to boost their immune system against this virus. Having dried fruits which can last six months plus is an added advantage and that’s how we are at the end of the day, dealing with the season.
What keeps you going day by day?
What keeps me going is seeing these young people that we have employed. Currently, we have a staff capacity of fourteen people, all below the age of thirty-five. They inspire me a lot when I see that they come to work and they are able to make this amazing product they keep on the shelves of supermarkets and people buy and eat and are healthy. That inspires me a lot -that we are able to help these young people earn a decent income and that they are able to put food on the table for their families. Seeing that our clients love our products, that our products are 100% natural with no additives, no chemicals. It means we are mindful of the health of our clients and also the environment, seeing that we are getting into climate-smart agro-processing where we are not harming the environment. It also inspires me a lot. Another thing that inspires me is the fact that in Africa, we have a lot of resources and we can make an impact if we utilize those resources. One of the biggest inspirations of them all is ‘The Almighty God.’ I’m a Christian and I believe in Christ Jesus and every day as I am able to make an impact in people’s lives, I feel like I’m fulfilling the mandate that I’ve been given to be an ambassador of Christ here on this earth. So, that’s also one major inspiration.
What are some of the Achievements you’ve had as ‘Pure and Just Company Limited’ since you started operations?
Some of our achievements are that we have fourteen young people below the age of thirty-five working for us, 80% of them are women, even my business partner is a woman, and so we really want to empower women not to mention, we’ve increased farmers’ income.
Another of the things we’ve been able to do is ‘we won a grant by Ghana Climate Innovation Centre’ which is why we are bringing in a dryer that is going to be powered by the waste from our fruits. So we are doing something called ‘clean energy’.
Since we started till now, we’ve been able to stock in forty-plus retail shops in Accra, we export not in very large quantities to Russia, the USA, the UK, and we’ve also been able to do wrist bands as we did fundraising that’s helping us move into our new facility. We are really making an impact gradually.
We also won a grant by the Netherlands Embassy Initiative here in Ghana. We won a grant to be able to improve our communications and marketing where we are hiring a communications officer who is, in turn, going to push our sales.
Where do you see your business in the next ten years?
In the next ten years, it’s going to be awesome. I think in the next ten years, we’ll be one of the biggest climate-smart Agro-processing companies in Africa. We’ll be exporting to most of the countries around the world and we’ll be one of the best paying businesses because we really think about our workers and we want to do our possible best, to make sure that we are fair to this so that this rural farmer can make a decent living as well.
What word of advice do you have for other youths out there?
What I can say is that Africa has a huge potential. You read the statistics and agro-business in Africa would be worth a trillion dollars in the next ten years. You read the statics and we would have the world’s highest population when it comes to young people. You read the statistics and you realize that we would become the world’s labor force when we talk about ‘young energetic people.’ So there is a lot of potential Aside from the fact that we have 70% of the world’s available land?…that shows that we can adopt a lot of innovation to better our lives. We do not always have to depend on the west. Actually, they depend on us because we are the world’s food basket and so I will encourage any young person that has the potential to start a business because not everybody can start a business. If you have it, go ahead. If you don’t have it, you can be what I call an intrapreneur. You can help someone who has started his or her business to scale it up because we have to take our destinies into our own hands and then develop this continent.
So I will encourage somebody. Being able to make an impact is the most important thing. When you create value, money follows value. The money will not just chase you. Money is a store of value. So when you create value for people, the money will automatically chase you – when you make an impact and so we need to be valued really for example for us, we are an identity-driven company. We want to get into world-class value-added products. So we focus on identity-driven branded products to demonstrate our African creative and operational capacity, to ensure that we generate and keep the highest value in the local eco-system where it’s needed most. So we are interested in productive co-branding while stapling to opportunities with the right partners to be able to export and do a lot of stuff with fruits and improve the lives of not only our workers or customers but also our suppliers, who are the local farmers.
So, if you are in it too, go ahead. Keep pushing. Sometimes the journey might be very tough so you feel like giving up but keep forging ahead because, at the end of the day, it pays. It really does.
THE END – Thank you. Check out ‘Pure and Just Co Ltd’ on their website HERE, AND for more updates on Entrepreneurs/hip, subscribe by signing up with your emails to be notified or even follow our Instagram page @TheLunkuseInitiative & Facebook HERE. Be on the lookout for our next superstar initiative on this platform next Thursday, peace &love!