“Overcome the fear and don't let it stop you - Fear in itself will not result in anything positive.”
“When I decided to create a business which people thought might fail, I was determined to find out for myself, willing to try and see”
Catherine is in her 50’s was born in Accra and the mother of 2 young-adult children. Her father was self taught, he worked for the government and according to her “he was a born entrepreneur”. Her mother worked with an Airline but she left the job after experiencing a crash then started petty trading. Growing up surrounded by her entrepreneur parents, she inherited entrepreneurship attributes. Before founding Eden Tree Catherine traveled to the UK and stayed lived there for 14 years. This was crucial for her: “Living in UK made me independent, made me realise that I can make a living”
Since the company's foundation in 1997 the philosophy has been: quality and excellence at all cost. Eden Tree grows and distributes high-end fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs in Ghana.Their products come from their own farms in the Volta and Eastern regions of Ghana and from trained out growers. She started as most entrepreneurs “with little capital, using land from in-laws in exchange for taking care of the remaining land”.
Currently Eden Tree has 70 people in its staff and buys the production of around 300 small-farmers. The company provides services to supermarkets with the production from these outgrowers. In 2016 a fund that invests in Entrepreneurs to scale up called I&P gave funding to Eden Tree, they exit after around 6 years with offers of other options.
Catherine´s future goals for the company are to retail from their own outlets and to export to other African countries, like Ivory Coast. “I hope everyone should have something from Eden tree in their kitchen” mentioned Catherine.
To be a woman entrepreneur is not always easy, Catherine explains: “Some members of staff were difficult to manage specially because their perception of having women as their leaders ‘...’ also often clients that see your successes would try to copy or steal ideas. We overcame this by focussing on the brand values and continuing to doing what we do well: Safety, quality and service”
There have also been some satisfying moments according to Catherine, “One of my first milestones was returning to the first supermarket that I have supplied and realised that the herbs had sold out and the staff relayed how excited the customers had been about it all.”
“I think women are more detailed in doing things and more dedicated, kind of motherly. I am more conscious and more considerate to women as a woman and in many ways I feel that while women are more financially disciplined”
According to Catherine, to run a successful agribusiness, female entrepreneurs, “apart from having access to technical knowledge and being on the ground, ought to have the right mindset, honesty and integrity.”
“You need support from partner/spouse to balance personal and professional life. Women who are married and have children must do all the rest too, and there needs to be enough time to focus on the business” she says. “However if you find yourself in a situation, where there is no male partner around, you can do it! Women are equally just as good and capable. Just find someone who can support at home and taking care of the children. Additionally in Ghana, we are fortunate that women are free to start and run their business”
To conclude Catherine mentioned: “In the decision-making role, I have never seen that fact that I am a woman be an issue. Nothing can stop me; I have all it takes, God has given everyone a gift. Push what you have to go through.”