N.A.N.A. Sarpong Organic and Venia Foods are complementary companies inspired by a family’s enthusiasm for mushrooms. Rev. Derek Sarpong and his daughter, Eirene Sarpong have innovated the common oyster mushrooms into nutritious delicacies with mind blowing culinary taste and texture. A novelty in food production uses every raw material effectively and it is purely organic.
For Eirene Sarpong, her passion to cook has driven her to the path of her business. Even though she is a university graduate and has worked two jobs already, her cooking instincts kept tingling until she found her purpose in adding value to what her father has built over the years.
Rev. Derek Sarpong, now visually impaired, continues to run his company with the know how he has acquired and the years of experience in organic mushroom farming. The aims of these two individuals wanting impact the world are to create jobs, alleviate poverty and the health improvement of Ghanaians.
With the consistent desire to eat healthy and stay healthy, the mushroom market has generated local and international demand. Instead of exporting raw mushrooms Eirene Sarpong has developed a perfect stock of Savour products with mushroom as the base. These include Mushroom powder, Savour Mushroom shitor for vegetarians and non – vegetarians alike, Savour Mushroom chips, mushroom kebab and Asumsa Organic drink.
The most interesting of all her product are the mushroom drink and the mushroom chips. For the first time in Ghana, Venia Foods has succeeded in producing chips fortified with protein: “normally chips don’t have protein”. The Asumsa organic drink (Kumboucha) is nothing you have tasted before.
Normally when people think of healthy they think tasteless, but Venia Foods, by extension Miss. Eirene Sarpong, is on a campaign to promote healthy as well as tasty diet with the slogan “delightfully healthy”.
Having completed a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the Ashesi University, she hasn’t relented in her decision to start a private business. She stated “I was very scared in the beginning and I was asking myself ‘what if’. Most of my ‘what ifs’ were in the negative. So my best friend told me instead of thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’ , I should take my pen and paper and write the positive ‘what ifs’. If I asked myself what if people don’t buy my product? I should rather write what if people patronized my products and loved them? After I did that, I was a bit settled in my heart that it could work out. It really drove me to do what do now. My motivation for starting the business we, the positive ‘what ifs’ story.”
Her candid opinion to the youth is that, “don’t kill yourself to do a job that you don’t like. I think people do that because they are scared. I was scared when I started but when you take a step and you are determined, everything works out.” You just have to love what you do or you will realize in the end that you have not lived life as you would have loved to.
Rev. Sarpong is always exited when the youth show interest in mushroom production. He derives great excitement form the positive feedback he receives about his know how. Rev. Sarpong explains the investment potential and the significant returns it could bring the country. “There have been times when we have received demands and we couldn’t meet them. Holland was the first to hear of us. They wanted us to supply them 20 tonnes of dry mushroom every month”. Unfortunately we could not meet their demand. He tells of the huge potential in the industry; yet under utilized by Ghanaians.
Aside it’s monetary and health benefit, the joint venture of this family creates jobs and training for the youth. Even after going blind in a medical accident (accidental over dose by a doctor), Rev. Sarpong still trains and employs people.
This is an inspiring true event of a family that produces with joy and love, overlooking physical limitations to do what they are passionate about.
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