Yes, she did that. What at all will motivate a young lady who was enjoying her role in the media as a newscaster resign and sell Sobolo—a local drink known to have nutritional and medicinal value? Find out.
Clara Norte Fianu, born in Keta, Volta Region, is the CEO of Norte Drinks. She had her basic education at Ketasco Basic School and continued at the Anlo Senior High School. She proceeded to the University of Ghana where she graduated with Philosophy and Linguistics in 2012.
How she entered journalism
While in her final year in the university, she went to her hometown, Anloga, to visit her parents. A family friend had also paid her parents a visit and they were engaged in a chat. That family friend was a worker at TV Africa. In the conversation, he mentioned that the station needed someone to fill a vacant position. So, he asked Clara if she was interested, and she accepted to use her free period on her time table to do the work.
In time, she proceeded to become a newscaster. After school, she remained with the TV station hoping to have her national service there. Unfortunately, however, she was not assigned to TV Africa during her national service. She was posted to a basic school in Accra. But she didn’t want to take a break from the media as she was permanently employed by the station at the time.
“I was mostly scheduled to read the mid-day news, so I spoke to the school’s headmaster and he permitted me to go to the station on days I don’t have a class. So, that is how I combined teaching with the media during my national service.”
The genesis of the ‘Sobolo’ drink
As time passed by, Clara lost her passion for journalism. She felt within her the desire for a new challenge. But she didn’t know where else to turn, especially for the fact that it is difficult to find jobs in the country. So, to shake off some of the boredom, she took a two-week’s leave from work.
But before she took the leave, a colleague of her had also resigned. That colleague used to sell Sobolo drink to the staff. They were all unhappy when she resigned because her Sobolo drink was very tasty and they loved it.
So, while on leave, she called a friend in the office and enquired how they are coping with the non-availability of their favourite drink. Then it crossed her mind to try her hands on the drink and supply to her colleagues in the office.
“I thought about it. Why don’t I try and prepare some of the drink and take it work and sell to my colleagues? So, I began asking people who know how to prepare the drink to teach me how to do it. That was the birth of my entrepreneurial journey.
Resignation from media
After selling the drink for some time, Clara felt it was time to call it quits with the media. But it didn’t come easy.
as so scared to resign initially. I wasn’t certain about the future of the Sobolo business. I wasn’t sure how many customers I would get to buy my drink every month. I was also scared about breaking the news to my parents who funded my education. Some of my colleagues I spoke to told me it would be the biggest mistake for me to resign from the media and go and sell drinks.
But one friend of mine encouraged me to follow my heart desire. So, for two weeks, I kept sitting on the fence and adjusting forward the date on my resignation letter. But finally, on one Friday after work, I turned in my resignation letter. And my full entrepreneurship journey began on Saturday.”
The biggest challenge she had to contend with was convincing her family and associates to accept her new job.
In our part of the world, a lot of prestige is attached to appearing on the television. In fact, it is something coveted by many. So, for Clara to get what many consider as a golden opportunity and later resign to do a job done by the ordinary in society seemed to be a crazy idea to her parents and other family members.
“I remember initially when I resigned, some of my family members called me and asked why it’s been long they saw me on TV. I didn’t have the courage to tell them I have resigned, so I told them I have taken a short break from work and I will reappear on the screens soon. But they kept calling and I had to finally tell them the bitter truth.”
But thankfully, her parents have eventually accepted her decision and now even offer their opinion on what she can do to improve her products.
Another challenge she faced was the access to capital. Even though the Sobolo business is not really capital intensive, Clara was surviving on it for her living. So, at times, she run out of capital and had to resort to her parents and other family members for capital to inject in the business.
How her product stands out
Clara is aware of the plethora of the Sobolo drink in the market. So, for her product to stand out, she has capitalized on an emerging trend among consumers.
“It can be seen that a lot of people are becoming more health conscious so I have reduced the sugar content in my drink so that I can serve better serve health conscious consumers. We also have one that is made of honey for those who do not like sugar at all.”
Her attractive packaging is also another thing that has become her strength.
The success of the Sobolo drink has moved her to add pineapple, melon and orange juice to her products. She also add palm wine occasionally.
How she markets her product
Clara uses a strategy she calls ‘corporate sales’ to market her products. She moves from one office to another to sell her products.
Through that she has successfully been able to establish contacts with companies such as Toyota Ghana, Hollard—an insurance company, among others.
“Educated has added a lot to my product. I try to read about the health benefits of the ingredients I use to see if it will really be beneficial to the health of consumers. So, we have been able to add cinnamon flavour to the Sobolo which I have never seen in the market. We also have it in pure pineapple juice flavour, and lemon grass flavour.
I also learned in school the benefits of attractive packages, and I have put that into practice.”
Just like the many popular soft drinks around, Clara wants her drinks to be among the list of drinks anyone will think of when hosting a function.
So, the next time you are looking for a healthy drink to buy or to serve at your function, remember Norte Drinks offers you another great option.