How KAEME, a small cosmetics business in Ghana, is staying optimistic through the crisis and supporting its employees, despite losing 95% of its sales.
Freda Obeng-Ampofo is having a hard time keeping her business and team running during the COVID-19 pandemic, similar to many other small-business entrepreneurs in every corner of the world.
'We do not have the option of working from home. Our business offers customers in-person experiences.'
But temporarily closing KAEME's physical store does not mean Freda is willing to give up. In interviews with CNN Business and CNN Africa, the founder and chief mixer of KAEME products explains that she is still paying full salaries to her team of five employees.
'This was a tough decision we had to make at KAEME, but we feel it's the right thing to do because our employees are our biggest assets. We invest in training them, so of course we would like them to stay with us as long as possible.'
Unfortunately, KAEME is not getting any external support to fulfil this resolution.
'I am not aware of any assistance to small businesses in terms of helping them keep their workforce during this time. I hope that our government with the support of international organizations will help us eventually. For now, we are paying everything out of our own pocket, and we are just going to use our reserves to keep paying our team until we get to the point where we can no longer do that,' says Freda.
Online sales are a lifeline
Even though KAEME's online sales have slumped, maintaining an active virtual presence has allowed the brand to engage customers as purchases trickle in.
'It is indeed difficult to provide the same kind of logistics for shipping abroad given the lockdown measures in Ghana. But we are fortunate enough to have soap in our product line.'
Freda explains that since soap is an essential item in taking precautions against COVID-19, the company has used it to attract online customers to generate some revenue to keep their business going.
Staying in touch with customers is essential
Freda knows how important it is to engage customers for a business' success, especially under the current circumstances where the only way to do that is online.
'Engaging with our customers online - however we can - is very important to us. We are doing so through Instagram Live, checking in with our customers on a regular basis, and just keeping in touch to let them know that we are still here and that we still care about them during these times.'
Freda remains optimistic: 'These are hard and challenging times, it's global. Everyone is going through the same process. I am very confident that KAEME will make it out of this crisis, and when we do, it will make us even stronger.'
KAEME has been a beneficiary of the International Trade Centre, which has supported the business with its exporting and product services.
Kaeme Body Care Limited (KAEME) uses natural, local raw materials and empowers the people within its supply chain. If you are interested in seeing their products or buying them, please visit www.kaeme.com.