Senayah’s company, Horseman Shoes, which he launched in Ghana in 2010, manufactures quality footwear in a range of targeted categories as well as to order. “I always wanted to drive change,” he told ventures-africa.com.
“I always wanted to be part of a solution to our challenges instead of sitting and complaining. So it happened that I found the opportunity to start with the unemployment situation among the Ghanaian youth.”
The idea for the business came about when he bought a pair of handmade shoes for himself from a local craftsman. “I had unending compliments; friends became interested in owning pairs,” he says. “It dawned on me that there’s an opportunity to make a viable venture out of it for myself and for the craftsmen who operate on a very small and informal scale. The whole idea was to migrate these guys from their corner shops into a factory.”
Senayah started by buying from local manufacturers and within a year opened his own workshop and began employing artisans. “Startup entrepreneurs run and manage all facets of their enterprises,” he tells howwemadeitinafrica.com. “These include production, finance, and marketing activities, among others. One gets these experiences the real and hard way. As you start your own business you realise it requires a great deal of discipline and tenacity to carry on.”
He chose the name of the company with careful consideration of the brand identity he was building. “Horseman represents the unique features of horses,” he says. “They are fast, strong; they have stamina and are beautiful. These are what our brand stands for. We want to associate with the young people who aspire to greater heights in their various fields of endeavour. It takes determination and focus to achieve. Like the horse, they have to keep running – in .”
Has he found it particularly challenging doing business in Ghana? “It is not always easy, just like many other developing countries,” Senayah says. “But generally there’s a conducive atmosphere in terms of political stability, security, and macro-economic growth that facilitates business.”
He is pleased with what he has achieved with the business to date. “In my own small way, I would say Horseman Shoes has been a success so far,” he says. “It is a business I created out of nothing and today I am known for Horseman Shoes. There has always been the perception that made-in-Ghana products are of inferior quality but I’m very pleased to say that my shoes defeated that misconception. I think it’s a feat to be proud of. We can also measure our success in the employment of other young people. Although it’s not a significant number, putting food on the tables of ten people is a starting point.”
And what advice would he give aspiring entrepreneurs? “There are a lot of opportunities around us,” he says. “It is often not the biggest of ideas that works but rather the small ones. The most important step is the beginning. Young people should step out of their comfort zone and try. They should not let the fear of failure hold them back. With the right attitude and determination, there is nothing that cannot be achieved.”
His own goals for the future are clear. “The vision of Horseman Shoes is to build the biggest footwear manufacturing company in Africa in terms of employment and brand preference,” says Senayah. “In line with our vision, we hope to create employment for several hundreds and thousands of Ghanaian youths. We also hope to expand our product line. In pursuance of all these, we seek to build a world-class brand.”
This proudly-Ghanaian entrepreneur is well on the way to achieving that goal too.