Oasis Juice Bar and Restaurant, at Murray Town, Freetown is one of the registered SMEs in the program. Oasis is owned by Mrs G. England, an entrepreneur who is enthusiastic about private sector growth in Sierra Leone.
Below is her testimony on the impact of CORDAID’S RBDS accelerator program on how she runs her business.
Background of Oasis Juice Bar and Restaurant
Oasis is a restaurant, which focuses on preparing healthy and fresh food for its customers. We prepare fresh and undiluted fruit juices as they are available in the season. We also have a guest house of nine rooms and a mini hall for meetings and workshops.
I started doing business while I was in primary school. I was selling different items to my classmates. But before going into a full-time business after studying at the university, I worked for a mission for a long time and then I left to work for a Non-governmental organization, in fact it was during that period I got the inspiration to start my own business.
How it started with Oasis Bar and Restaurant
I started a full-time business with Oasis in 2011, after taking part in a business plan competition that was organized in Sierra Leone and sponsored by the government of Sierra Leone, UN, OSIWA and other non-governmental organizations in 2010.
The criteria of the competition were to develop a business plan. And by the nature of my previous jobs, I travelled around the country and I have seen the wastage of fruit and vegetables, so I developed this idea to prevent such wastages and adding value to them.
Initially, I wanted to develop a factory, where l could do mass production of juice using fruits, but going through the said Business Plan Competition, I realized that what I wanted to do was capital intensive, so I decided to scale down and start small.
That was how I came up with the idea of a juice bar. There were twenty winners at the competition, and I was among them. I was given five thousand dollars to start my own business.
Knowledge and skills acquired from the RBDS program
So far it has been good; the training has positively impacted my business. Because I have started implementing what l have learnt thus far and I think it is good especially in financial management, stock management and the branding of my business.
I studied Business Administration at the university and I’ve had many general business ideas, but it was hard for me to implement any. I even forgot some as time progressed.
There were things that I was doing prior to me being part of the RDBS program that were not probably done properly. For example, I was not doing stock and asset management but now l have started practicing proper bookkeeping.
Again, before I became part of the RBDS program, l had a finance officer, but no proper final account, balance sheet, reconciling with bank, financial recording and a lot of other things on finances were not done correctly.
We had records of our finances, but it was all scattered. However, due to the Cordaid trainings, I’m able to consolidate all my finances. For example, if somebody comes to ask me about my financial records for January, I will be able to give a report.
Also, I’ve even installed an accounting program, and I believe this year we will have a proper financial report.
Potential of the private sector in Sierra Leone
The private sector is the backbone for the development of any economy; therefore it needs to be developed. I wish the government of Sierra Leone will see it that way, especially for small businesses.
I am employing 15 people at that moment- that is 15 out of the unemployed. And what that means in Africa, is that I am helping to feed the homes of these fifteen people. So, if there are more of these kinds of business or if this business expands, it means I can employ more people and pay for tax to the government. And that will help to reduce burden on government by addressing unemployment and will also boost the country’s economy.
By providing resilient business support to entrepreneurs, Cordaid, in line with the Government of Sierra Leone’s economic goals, is ensuring that entrepreneurship and the private sector are seen as important mediums for sustainable economic growth and development, thereby contributing towards ensuring that Sierra Leone moves from a level of fragility to a middle-income economy by 2030.