In conversation with Eke Ameh Azanu – Founder of AMI Craft and Ye! Boost Programme Accelerated Venture
Meet Ameh - a young entrepreneur and the Founder of AMI Craft, a Ghanaian enterprise producing luxury handcrafted leather footwear and accessories, which provides unique and timeless pieces for customers in all sizes and preferred designs. AMI’s social purpose is to help curb unemployment and provide decent jobs for youth.
The Ye! Boost Programme is a business acceleration programme led by Kumasi Hive with funding and support from the International Trade Centre and Kumasi Hive. Launched in April 2021, this innovative acceleration programme for export ready ventures builds on Kumasi Hive’s existing 12-week acceleration programme to bring in ITC’s knowledge and expertise on export, internationalisation, investor readiness and the AfCFTA. The 14-week acceleration programme will close with a pitch competition, whereby select ventures will pitch before an esteemed jury of experts and investors for a financial prize and ongoing support from ITC.
AMI Craft is one of 20 ventures selected to take part in this pilot programme. In this post, we check in with Ameh to learn more about her business, her journey, and her goals and ambitions for the future. Read on to hear her story. And don’t forget to connect with her on Ye! Community to continue the discussion.
Ye!: What is the problem you are trying to solve and what is your solution?
Ameh: The biggest overarching issue I am tackling is youth unemployment. I have created a decent job for myself, and I am employing further youth for my business. AMI Craft produces custom leather footwear to ensure customers satisfaction. We do our best to give back to our community by employing skilled personnel, providing them an opportunity to utilise their skill sets to the fullest. One of our long-term goals is to teach other members of the community, especially women, to make shoes.
Ye!: What sparked your idea to create your business? Did it happen one day or mature with time?
At first, unemployment was my main driver. I was laid off from work and I had to find a solution for myself. I decided not to sit idle and so, I created AMI Craft. I have now been running the business for four years and counting.
Successfully running a business is mainly about accessing the right resources, so my approach lately has been to invest in the right resources that help me to acquire the best knowledge to grow my business.
Ye!: As an entrepreneur, what do you wish someone had told you about jumping into the game?
Being an entrepreneur was my calling. But you really just have to jump in head first. I took the plunge to see if I would drown or manage to swim. I decided to swim despite the tides and waves. I was not going to sit around waiting for calls to interviews, which never ended up happening.
Becoming a full-time entrepreneur so early on in my career was not my initial plan. I initially thought that I was going to run my business on the side. I started the business out of my home and then eventually moved it to someone’s workspace but soon after I realised the space was not giving us the room to grow. We then had to get our own place and new equipment to allow us the space needed to nurture our growth. Investing in this was of course a big expense.
Most people also do not tell you about the financial pressures when jumping into the game. They often make it sound like everything is rosy. I also wish I was told early on to get a mentor to guide me appropriately because I have realised that support systems are a big source of motivation for me, personally.
On the brighter side, I am glad that I made all the mistakes that I did and I wouldn’t change that for anything. I am evolving in this game and constantly learning and that is what is beautiful about it.
Ye!: What were some of the lowest moments in your journey that forced you to adapt or go out of business?
One of the lowest points in my entrepreneurship journey happened when the employee I started to build the business with decided to quit at the time when business was really picking up. I was still learning how to make my products in the best way and didn’t have enough money to employ extra hands.
I thought to myself, “Do I throw in the towel or persevere?” I decided to persevere because I really believed in the mission of my business.
Ye!: What are the big lofty goals you have? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
The main purpose that I want my business to fulfil is to benefit humanity. Via the creation of decent jobs, I am helping improve people’s standard of living and contributing positively to the economy. AMI Craft’s goal right now is to grow, grow and grow! We are looking to penetrate the international market, and with the help of the Ye! Community and ITC we are confident that this will be achievable.
Times are changing fast and I aim to provide value and to solve problems in five years from now and in 10 years too! It is important for us to continue to stay relevant today and into the future. I am constantly learning and staying abreast with current trends on markets and competitors. This will essential to the long-term success of AMI Craft.
Ye!: What impact do you want to have on the world?
We want to be one of the major players in spurring economic growth and we want to help to maintain a sustainable community. Plastic waste is a very big challenge within the community. At AMI, we try our very best to use vegan leather that is more eco-friendly and we strictly use paper packaging. We hope to set a positive example for other Ghanaian businesses and for the community. By building a business that is both sustainable in its use of materials and respect for the environment, as well as one that is providing employment too the community, I am contributing to the Ghana I want to see in the future.
To contact AMI, find them at the following social media addresses: