#TalentedTuesday: John Nana Addo Francois, Asili Coffee

This blog was originally published on the FB page of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Ghana 

Cheerful Tuesday! For today’s #TalentedTuesday we interviewed one of the selected Orange Corners entrepreneurs, John Nana Addo Francois, founder of Asili Coffee Purveyors LTD.

What was your motivation to start your business? 
‘My motivation has always been to promote rural industry. To utilize coffee as a catalyst for socio-economic change and rural development. I am not so arrogant as to claim that my company can be the single driving force behind progress in my community, far from it, we are a small company struggling with the weight of the task before us. We are however chipping away gradually, tripping and falling but rising again and again, we are playing our part in the ignition of a movement. We are showing that regardless of size or geographic location, progress is a possibility. We, in our municipality, can also produce global standard goods and services that can represent us on international stages.’

What makes your business unique? 
‘What makes us a bit different from a few others is simply what we have chosen to do with our capabilities. Rural farmers are accrued well under 10 percent of total revenue from bean to final consumer, even when paid premium for their yields. We are looking to provide them with a means of true economic empowerment, by serving as the market link that bridges the gap between themselves and the final consumer. As we are working on a very small scale we have been able to provide land access to farmers for free. We have also had the break-through privilege of support from the government of Ghana, providing a seedling garden to feed our initiative in the Akuapem North Municipality. These seedlings are provided free of charge to farmers in the Akuapem area via the Planting for Export and Rural Development initiative – a partnership between the COCOBOD, ministry of local government and Rural Development and the ministry of food and Agriculture.’

What inspires you? 
‘I am inspired by heroism. The world we live in is imperfect but that is simply because humanity in and of itself is imperfect. We err, we lie, we fight, we cheat, etc.
However, in all of our imperfection there are those rare, beautiful times when people go above and beyond in pursuit of something they believe in. Persevere beyond reason in order to achieve a goal, it is truly magical. It is a battle with one’s limits, it doesn’t have to be climbing mountain Everest, it could be you rehearsing your lines for a stand-up show, knowing full well you’re not a public speaker. It’s in all of us.’

What is your advice for other young entrepreneurs? 
‘My advice is that it is an uphill battle that will require self-awareness, patience, humility, grit and resourcefulness. There will be days when you think that you’re finished, people around you will think that too. However, if you truly believe in yourself and what you’ve set out to do, you must simply continue to put one foot in front of the next and move forward.’

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