This week on the LadyBoss series, we chat with Ghanaian entrepreneur Karen Naa Dedei Mensah, CEO lepifaniagifts, an ideas and gift concierge company that creates ideas for clients and help them find suitable gifts items. She shares her challenges, the relevance of social media to business and key success tips for entrepreneurs.
Can you briefly describe yourself and your business?
My name is Karen Naa Dedei Mensah. I am a young woman who believes in new opportunities and collaborations. I love God and I am a firm believer in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. My philosophy in life is to empower the young people with the capacity to achieve their dreams. My business is an ideas and gift concierge company. We create ideas for individuals and corporate institutions and help them find suitable gifts items for their loved one, clients and customers. L’epifania gifts works to clients the best gift options available. We create beautiful African pieces such as beads, table cloths, aprons, throw pillows and more.
What is it like being a female entrepreneur, and why did you choose to be one?
Being a female entrepreneur in a male dominated environment is hard. I have had to jump through incredible hoops to make my business succeed. It has not been an easy journey. Attracting facilities to help grow my business is one of the few challenges I face daily. Regardless of these challenges, I choose to create a credible business brand which will inspire and empower.
What new innovation have you introduced into your business?
Innovations within my line of business are an everyday thing. The power of social media has opened a plethora of pathways to connect with clients and curate gifts and presents. From the unique Ghanaian touch introduced to packaging items for traditional marriages to the special customization packages and options, the brand has managed to stay ahead of its competitors.
What would you say is responsible for your success so far?
I believe my drive and desire to keep going in spite of the challenges I face and my ability to get creative with the ideas and gifts I offer my clients has kept my business going and is responsible for my success.
In your opinion, would you say there are many unique challenges that female entrepreneurs face?
Women entrepreneurs face very unique challenges but key among them are limited access to funding, building a support network, dealing with the fear of failure, and discrimination from society.
What values and principles have helped you so far?
The core of my brand ethos are mutual respect, customer satisfaction, innovation and excellence.
Why did you decide to go into this particular line of business?
Negative corporate culture and the desire to explore my creative and leadership ability, led me to set up my business. The ability to create news things has always been my passion and channeling my energies into this line of business came naturally.
What are some of the challenges you have faced, and what has kept you going?
The challenges are numerous but most impacting remain:
- Limited access to funding
- High interest rate on loans when I am able to secure loan facilities
- Lack of a support network and mentorship
- Dealing with the fear of failure
- Defying the expectations of the society I find myself in
- Struggling to be taken seriously
- Discrimination from society
What’s your five year plan for business?
In the next five years, my company will extend its footprint to deliver customized services across West Africa and also employ, train and empower young girls to be financially independent.
What do female entrepreneurs need to do to be successful in this path?
Female entrepreneurs can succeed in this career path by
- Staying innovative and thinking outside the box.
- Surrounding themselves with positive and like-minded people
- Ensuring they have a solid support system
- Understanding their strengths and weaknesses
- Taking risks
The LLA Lady Boss Series is a weekly interview series that highlights the achievements and entrepreneurial journeys of African female entrepreneurs. The idea is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through enterprise and business.
It is an off-shoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things in enterprise, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.