Business News of Friday, 10 February 2017
In 2000, Ofosu secured admission into one of Kumasi’s promising schools, the Kumasi Academy. As fate would have it, his mother’s loss was going to cost him his education and may forever truncate his quest for some good education. He dropped out of school in 2002.
Ofosu joined his grandfather in Adugyema, a friendly community that had severally welcomed him in the past whenever school was on recess. There, the young man had to apprentice the trade of his mother’s father. This old man was a plant-based healer.
Ofosu spent six years in this plant-based medical school. Between 2002 when bad fate had his mother joining his father in eternity until the summer of 2008, Ofosu painstakingly followed his grandfather every step of the way from raw material procurement, preparation and administration of the drugs.
Traditional medical practice and herbalism being a meeting point of the physical as well as the spiritual worlds, Ofosu had to pay utmost attention to the recitals, chanting and sometimes invocations that sometimes preceded the harvesting of raw materials for specific portion preparations.
Ofosu had to document the times of the day and night suitable for harvesting raw materials from the forest for whatever drug preparations and master the many local language names of the plants his grandfather used. When Ofosu had mastered these, his grandfather officially initiated him into the practice by formally handing him a symbolic piece of plant. This was in 2008.
The capital quest
The quest to find capital to start his own practice took Ofosu across the border to Ivory Coast. He worked there for two years and was going to remain there until he secured enough resources for his project. But when he received a distress call that his grandfather needed him back at home urgently, the young man caught the next bus back home.
With the little resources he had bagged from his travels, Ofosu set out seeking the necessary documentations so he could practise his art or science or both. This was going to be a long, exhaustive haul that ran down his resources, sapped his energies and finally dwarfed his zeal to practice traditional medicine.
From 2012 onwards, the herbalist started breathing sighs of relief. Two years later, in 2014, the Food and Drugs Board (FDB) issued the young man the permit and a registration identity for one of the many preparations he held. This was for a balm that sooths pain in general and expels ailments associated with earlier bone fractures and joint dislocations.
After acquiring this pass from the almighty FDB, Ofosu realised that he needed to approach the game like the big players. When the department of Plant Medicine of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology threw an opportunity to the club members of fellow herbalists, Ofosu jumped at it. In two years, Ofosu had attended and obtained two certificates, one for partaking in a week long workshop and the other for training in entrepreneurship. And with the university’s logo embossed on these certificates, the chances of success of this young herbalist seemed enhanced.
Ofosu registered his enterprise as Kokotako Herbal, perhaps in the hope that such a magnificent indigenous name may produce phenomenal results. Even though it’s too early to discount such likelihood, Ofosu is making progress, slowly though.
Strategies for location
Ofosu relocated in Nkawkaw because when he started manufacturing the balm and testing the markets, this town more readily welcomed the product. Besides, when you take the entirety of the very viable territories into consideration, Nkawkaw was the cheapest centre from where Oda, Koforidua, Kumasi and the Afram Plains could be serviced cheaply. And as if out of coincidence, most of the primary raw materials for the preparation of the balm are found in the rich forest belts that enmesh the town.
Ofosu has striven to build a little pain relieving and management clinic in a suburb in the North- Eastern border of Nkawkaw. That clinic is only a few months old. Ofosu tells me that the health centre is set to popularise his balm and take it to the new set of customers in and around Nkawkaw.
Marketing & capital headaches
The overall market performance of the balm is very promising but for the young entrepreneur, these spectacles are below his expectations. At a little over fifteen hundred cartons a month, Ofosu believes the potential for the ointment is enormous and he is encouraging his team to strive to go beyond the current figures.
Apart from the headache of overcoming the sluggish market, real challenges confront the entrepreneur. His search for capital either from the regular commercial banks and quasi financial institutions has fallen flat in his face with the beast called collateral rearing its unpleasant head.
Kokotako has two other drugs he believes are phenomenal game-changers. Securing the FDA stamp for them is his next headache.