University graduate was dreaming of his own business…
Read how he made it!

Text: Maxwell Frimpong
Have you had the experience of seeing a nice pair of slippers or sandals in a shop or online, but when you enquired, they didn't have them in your size? Other times, you wished it was in a particular color or some little tweaks were done to it to your taste, but it wasn't possible?

This is a problem that SanteKay is trying to solve, creating a made from scratch sandals according to specifications of customers. SanteKay was founded by Kwame A. Ofori, a Ghanaian who had graduated fresh from the UK. SanteKay is the portmanteau of Kwame and his wife, Asantewaa. Here is his story.

The beginning: it started with a pair of shoes

I was once in dire need of a pair of slippers for a function, so I approached a 'shoe maker'. He asked me to return in a few days for my slippers. To my amazement, it fitted perfectly. I said to myself: "If it's that simple, I'll learn to get into this trade." This was the time I had come to Ghana from the UK where I was studying as a fresh graduate and was writing business plans for friends to earn some change. I took the opportunity to understudy the shoe maker and wrote a business plan.

My idea was to implement the Kanban method of production which combines the lean and just-in-time forms of production. This, basically, means that there is little or no stock.

How much money was invested

If I truly recall, my initial investment was GHS 200. This was taken from some of my savings. We were doing almost everything by hand and no machines. I can say SanteKay broke even in its third month.

SanteKay has been in existence since January 2013.

Challenges at the beginning

We started by notifying friends and family alongside advertising on Facebook. About 95% of our clients first encountered us through Facebook.

Initially, because of credibility issues, we took the orders, made them, and then we delivered. This model came with its own issues: clients who ordered did not answer their phones and others only wanted to pay half.

This wasn't so much of a bother since shoes could always be resold to persons who did not have any preference but needed any style in particular size.

We gradually moved to clients making a deposit before orders were confirmed, and currently majority of clients make full payment before their orders are confirmed. It usually takes 10 working days from the day of the order are confirmed until delivery.
Another challenge is that we do not manufacture leather. What we get on the market is what we use. More often than not, clients will say – "I want the exact thing as seen in the picture." With shades of brown it is very unlikely to get the same leather type always. And sometimes the design on a leather might differ. We explain it to our clients, some of them understand it.

What kind of products are made

We make leather slippers which cost from GHS120.00+.

Our styles are unique. We have over the years worked on the finishing, and we only use durable leather. What we have done differently is the ordering process.

So there is product innovation and there's process innovation. We have innovated the process in which clients order from us. SanteKay mainly has an online presence where clients place their orders through either Facebook, the SanteKay webstore ( or on WhatsApp.

How to make your dream come true

I am generally a positive minded person who looks at things from a positive perspective and discards negativity.

I believe we all can achieve anything and everything we want to. It's all about formulating it clearly in your mind and working smart and diligently at it.

Everything under the sun has been solved in one discipline or the other. It's just tweaking them to suit the field in which the problem is.

Tips to starting your dream business

Write out your business plan on paper.

Keep records of everything you do. Open a file.

Your customers are your goldmine. Treat them well. They are not always right. But treat them well, because when they are happy you are happy.

Innovate and keep up with the trends of time. Read around your industry and beyond. The problem that has been solved in another discipline can be implemented in your industry. Bear in mind that you'll need to take into consideration some factors such as cultural differences.
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