By Taylor Hanna, Ghana Ambassador Volunteer
Edward Marfo lives near Cape Coast, a city known for being surrounded by beautiful beaches and haunting colonial forts. But we met recently in Accra where he popped in for a few days to take care of some business.
Edward’s story is nothing short of inspirational. Orphaned at the age of seven, he spent his early years in a charity center, which provided housing for orphans and rehabilitation for troubled youth. But the center lost funding while he was there and could no longer serve as a home or provide funding for many of its residents. Edward was fortunate enough to find an uncle to take him in. He was able attend school, excelling at his studies as the assistant school prefect, and graduate.
Edward has always been interested in business but lacked funds to pursue university. So he started to read and study on his own (most recently, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, and Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman) and became interested in entrepreneurship. He began with the idea to open a computer center, but soon he noticed that there was no good pharmacy in his community. And after watching his neighbors have to travel very far in order to get their medicine, he decided to open one up himself.
The first challenge of opening a pharmacy, he told me, was obtaining the proper licenses. But once he had accomplished that, he ran into another difficulty – keeping a stocked inventory. He instantly attracted potential customers but couldn’t always provide them with the exact medicines they were seeking. Although the business had been started so that his neighbors wouldn’t have to travel far for their medicine, all too often he had to send them away on that same journey when he didn’t have what they needed on the shelves.
That’s when a friend introduced Edward to Zidisha. His Zidisha loan provided the upfront capital necessary to keep his inventory full of a wide variety of basic medicines. Finally, he could cater to his community’s needs and didn’t have to turn customers away. Before his first loan, Edward’s pharmacy grossed about $20 in sales per day. Edward’s first $100 loan allowed him to stock a larger inventory, boosting sales to $38 per day. When the uncle who had adopted him passed away, Edward’s business earnings allowed him to provide financial support to the uncle’s son.
The pharmacy has been opened for a year and a half now and is continuing to grow. When we met, Edward was actually in Accra finishing up the paperwork for a license to bill prescription drugs to the National Health Insurance Scheme himself, further easing access to his customers.
Although his focus now is on his current business, once that is established he has his sights set on expansion. He still keeps in touch with a few of his mates from the charity center home, smart individuals but many of whom, he explains, didn’t fare as well as he did. So in the future he hopes to provide one or two with job training and employment in his growing business.
“My aim in life is to become a social entrepreneur and grow my drug store business to a point where I can open many branches nationwide and help those in need,” says Edward. “As a young man, my greatest philosophy is that I don’t need a job, all I need is a breakthrough idea and with the little I have started so far, if I keep going I will become an inspiration to the many youth in my country and continent at large.”
Edward, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with me on your trip to Accra. We wish you the best with your pharmacy and look forward to seeing how it grows!