by Kate Sem-Ackah
Shito is a very treasured food in Ghana because it comes in handy as a quick sauce. Senior High School students are some of the biggest consumers, they just love it! In most homes shito is as common as sugar or salt. Yet not everybody possesses the skill to do a great tasting commercial shito sauce.
Akwasi Asare a graduate from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology has converted his interest in this nearly omnipresent delicacy into a viable business venture. He is producing a great tasting commercial shito mix with the name Asaninka Shito right from his own kitchen. He began production the sauce in late 2012. Akwasi says "I generated my own ideas by research and by identifying problems, lack and a need in society. I was actually looking for a way to impact my generation and create wealth for myself so I attended an effective corporate training program during my second year in university. There was this topic 'How to develop your own product and market it' and that was what got me into acquiring more skills and training to build my own brand...besides I love cooking".
Ordinarily a lot of women make shito and sell it along the street side or in small shops but they are not so marketable because of their packaging and branding. Getting your own shito recognized is not an easy feat, considering that there are countless other labels screaming for attention. That is one of the major reasons why Akwasi Asare has taken the pains to go through rigorous checks by the food and drugs board and has also licensed his brand. "...In fact the bottles for packaging my sauce are imported straight from the manufactures seeing as the ordinary shito producer in Ghana goes to buy second hand bottles". After the sauce is made "I use agents or student representatives to sell my products on commission basis. I have not really employed people yet. I do not put theproducts in shops because the shop owners delay in paying and that delays production because I rely on the money for the next production".
His product has received encouraging responses. “They (initial responses) blew me away. The challenge however was that I didn't know how to preserve it so after a while the reports were that the shito started turning darker in color and smelling, and that costed me four hundred bottles being called off the market. I rectified that through extensive research and realized that there was too much water added during the preparation stages".
His seed capital came through family and friends. “The banks saw no prospect in my venture”, says Akwasi. "The only help I got from the government was that when I got to register with the standards board, the National Board for Small Scale Industries(NBSSI) , subsidized registration fees. I even gave them my package and they were overwhelmed, besides that not so much help has come from them..."
Akwasi hopes to have a multinational business ."I have resolved to overcome the issue of lust for money and wanting quick success. One must learn to be patient...”
The sauce is also available online here; SHITO
Kate Sem-Ackah is passionate about matters of the youth in her country and takes every opportunity to be a voice for them. With a Diploma in Basic Education she has taught for a while, before pursuing a Bachelor of Arts programme in Communication Studies. She has written a book: 'Break of Dawn' , that celebrates the struggles and hopes of the youth. She also currently writes serial features for publication and online articles