An alumna of the Believe, Begin, Become Business Plan Competition, Sheila Ocansey graduated from Cape Coast University two hours northwest of Accra, Ghana with a business degree and has been working in corporate HR for several years. But she always had the idea of delivering fresh fruit, juices and smoothies to offices. She believed that like herself, office workers have little time to go out to get food and if they do, it tends to be less healthy, fast food. A friend told her about the Believe Begin Become competition knowing Sheila had a good idea but needed money to expand. As the First Prize winner of the 2007 competition, she won $10,000 seed money which purchased a delivery van and $10,000 in services (design, print labels, flyers, biz cards, and other marketing materials for whole staff). Thus she established Fruity Fruit Ltd. to improve office workers’ health and efficiency.
While still employed as a corporate HR officer, as a pilot in mid-2007 she hired and trained one woman to sanitarily cut fresh, colorful fruit salads packaged in clear “clamshell” containers to sell from one location. With her prize money Sheila began to execute on her vision of delivering (with her new van!) healthy fruit products to offices. Her goal had been to offer 3 products: fruit salad, fresh juices and smoothies. However, practicality interceded in a few ways. To make morning deliveries of high quality, no-compromise fruit products, her staff needed to arrive near dawn to start preparing fruit salad. Fruit juice required them to arrive even hours earlier which was increasingly dangerous to her staff safety. Plus without preservatives, juices would look unappealing shortly after production. Smoothies were out of the question for delivery since they really only could be made fresh.
Trained Staff Maintains High Quality Fresh Fruit
Because Sheila’s goal was the high quality expected by her professional customers, she had to train her 4 staff members (by 2008) on: sanitary food preparation, including coveralls from head to toe; packaging so that the product is very appealing; timely product delivery; solving customer requests/problems; positively yet subtly promoting the company; and even noting opportunities for new or increased sales. Sheila hired a delivery driver whom she trained to appear clean and give her company credibility while interacting with their customers. Her staff fulfills demand for the colorful 8 oz. and 12 oz. food packs. Sheila must generally find customers, do bookkeeping, and supervise all operations—while working full-time in HR. So Fruity Fruits’ success is based on fruit salad, great staff, and customers’ satisfaction.
In addition to money of course, Sheila hoped to get specific training on understanding how to develop then actually write a business plan, identify then implement key milestones and learn how to run daily operations of a small enterprise. Not only did she gain all of the above during Believe Begin Become training, but also her mentor became her go-to resource for accounting, market analysis and strategy, finalizing/smoothing the flow of her business plan and especially helping her get the ideas out of her head onto paper. She stated, “I gained a serious business plan and now have over 100 customer organizations who find my product very convenient and healthy, which is becoming more important to them. Those who’ve tried my fresh fruit juice can order it at the same time they order the cut fruit and definitely prefer it to soda for taste and health.” Her vision is to be the #1 cut-fruit vendor in Ghana!