I was curious to know the original story—the up close and personal gists I wouldn’t find on the “About Us” page. So I did what any curious intern would do: I interviewed my boss.
Oh, where are my manners? I didn’t even introduce myself. I’m Victor Eghan, a student of Ashesi University and the newest member of Dziffa.com.
So here’s how the interview with my boss went:
So what inspired you to start Dziffa.com?
I left Ghana when I was 12 years old and always bought African products as a way to express my cultural identity.
I sold beads briefly during my senior year in College and was fascinated by their authenticity. I moved to Ghana a few months after graduating to ‘Discover my Purpose,” and was struck by all the amazing products we made in Ghana. I wanted a way to share the best of Ghana with the world and thought an online marketplace would be the idea solution.
Wow. Interesting. So how were your first few months like? Rough? Smooth?
My first few months were really challenging but fun. I did not know anything about technology or online marketing. All I knew was I loved African goods and wanted to create an avenue for globalizing local products.
I set out on a journey to find artisans transforming our local resources into beautiful artifacts. Around the time of the launch in August 2015, I had just about 5 local partners and 20 products on the website.
Were there any bumps during the ride? Any challenges? And how did you overcome them?
Inexperience was my biggest challenge: I had no experience in the field I was in, I had to learn to be an accountant, business developer, marketer, and staff. It was tough and probably the hardest months of my post-college years. Luckily for me, the startup space in Ghana was very supportive that I always had a helping hand. iSpace foundation practically bankrolled me in my first few months and I will forever be grateful to them.
I remember the day I printed out my paper bags from scratch and needed to glue them all. I was sitting by myself feeling so overwhelmed when Kwesi, the CEO of iSpace, walked over with his lively personality and bright smile to help me turn my papers into bags. Four more people joined and we made about 100 bags that day.
Apart from the challenges in the initial stages, has there ever been a time that you felt like giving up for any reason?
Yes. Around July, 2015, I was very worried that I wasn’t making much sales and was getting very discouraged. I could not understand why people would not buy and really wanted to give up. Once we launched, I got feedback from people within our target market and knew we had to expand our product offering.
I returned to Ghana shortly after to focus on expanding and creating more partnerships not just in Ghana, but in other parts of the continent and built a team to help me grow the company without feeling overwhelmed.
If you were to describe how you feel about your work in one word, what would that word be?
Humility. Being an entrepreneur is tough. It’s one thing to be passionate about something and another thing to dedicate every waking moment to bringing that thing to life. I am the chief laborer of Dziffa.com, and I am tasked with knowing every aspect of the company and constantly figuring out ways to grow it. Humility has taught me the importance of accepting that I do not know it all and the willingness to learn, which has helped me make a lot of informed decisions like bringing you on board and nurturing your talent while you help make Dziffa’s vision a reality.
This a really cool origin story, isn’t it? A young college graduate pursues entrepreneurship in spite of her lack of experience succeeds in creating an online marketplace dedicated to globalizing African products. My curiosity has really paid off. I’ve got a lot of answers, but I still have more questions. I guess I might have to ask my boss for another interview soon.