In less than a year, the clientele base of Mrs. Evelyn Ampadu, a fashion designer has more than doubled after she begun to advertise her African Print clothing on Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube social media applications.
Mrs. Ampadu, who is a member of the Dansoman branch of Ghana National Tailors and Dressmakers Association (GNTDA), said she did not know the power of these social media applications until the BUSAC Fund sponsored training exposed her and her fellow fashion designers to the basic skills in Information Communication Technology in the garment production industry.
“Traditionally, as I learned from my superior, we sat and waited for walk-in customers to bring us their materials to sew; and I never learned about advertising products so it was something new,” she noted.
“I followed the digital marketing tools lessons very keenly and by the end of the lesson I had created accounts on each of these social media platforms. When I got home, I took pictures of my designer dress and begun uploading them. That was the magic.”
Mrs. Ampadu, who is the Welfare Officer of the group, says the majority of her old contacts called her to express interest while others went further to place others for some of the clothing she posted. She explained that the YouTube and Facebook got her new contacts with some of the orders coming from abroad.
Aside the information technology skills, Mrs. Ampadu noted that members of the association also received training on financial management practices and bookkeeping skills from the BUSAC Fund sponsored capacity building programme, which is helping them to efficiently manage their businesses.
“Since we started practicing effective record keeping I am able to track my sales, investment and profit margin. I have refrained from just dipping my hands into the coffers and spending. Now I have to write every cedi I take and assign a reason. This has helped me to save as well as plough back into my business,” she added.
With Ms. Martha Bakuusa who is also a member, one skill she learnt from the BDS training programme, which has transformed her business was following up on old clients with a telephone call to check on them and also finding out if they had the stuff to sew.
“I am practicing the follow-up and it is paying off. Some of my customers actually had materials to sew but due to time constraint they are unable to come to my shop so now I pick the materials from their houses and deliver at a fee,” she stated.
As an entrepreneur, she says the training taught her to diversify her operations and as a result, she has begun to sell fabrics.
“When customers come to my shop they just choose from the different materials displayed and I guide them to choose a style that fits their figure. I go to that extra mile because it serves as an advertisement for me,” she explained.
One other take away from the training programme that had transformed Ms. Bakuusa’s business is the act of cultivating and maintaining a healthy relationship with subordinates at work.
“For my staff to give off their best, I relate with them and have an open discussion with all of them. I try to understand them, know their worries and try to help them to overcome challenges just as I will do for my brothers and sisters. This is working well for me and for this exposure, I am grateful to BUSAC and their development partners, DANIDA, USAID and the EU”.
Mary Ghanasah, President of Dansoman GNTDA attests that members were very active now and staying united to find solutions to address the challenge of attrition within their sector saying, “We instituted a legislation to ban trade masters from taking on workers who are in the habit of moving from one master to the other to maintain discipline within the Municipality.”
According to her, previously, member’s dues payment was encouraging but after the training, they now see the need to regularly pay their dues.
“We have become vibrant, increased our membership from 50 to 60 and we are trying to court key public sector officials, especially our Member of Parliament, Madam Ursula Erkuful and the Municipal Chief Executive,” she noted.
The training, she said had enabled the staff to be good managers of the organization and inspired to collaborate more with government and non-governmental organisations.
“This is the kind of training most members have been yearning for over the years and that has boosted the membership. They now see that the leadership is fronting for their interests,” he remarked.
In an ever-changing business environment and in a competitive domain there is the need to upgrade and learn more skills to remain relevant and competitive on the market and this training has really been worth it.
These skills development is in line with the governments’ drive to formalize the informal sector that employs over 80 percent of the labour force in the country, majority of who fall within the bracket artisans. This has the potential to enhance the nation’s ability to generate revenue to support the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda as development partners are gradually moving from aid to trade.