NEVER THINK whatever you are selling is not being patronised because of your disability. It could be from the way you are dressed. Appearance is everything, brand yourself well. This advice is coming in from physically challenged entrepreneur Zenabu Abu, who, despite her disability, has risen from ice water seller to a guesthouse owner.
Zenabu comes from a family of five. Surprisingly she is the only one with physical disability. Zenabu did not envy her siblings for being able-bodied nor did she disdain herself for what fate had meted out to her.
She decided at an early age that she would make something of herself and sure has. While leaving her family for Tamale 19 years ago, she was given a little seed capital of 30 cedis by her mother to sell iced water.
The proud girl of 19 tackled the ‘payin de payin’ iced water business as if everything was at stake – and yes it was – because she was determined that she would not live her life as a beggar on street corners.
Soon, the roadside hawking turned into a kiosk with her own fridges as her mother invested whatever earlier profit she made in expanding her business.
Spurred on by her determination and propelled by the favour of God, Zenabu soon became a petty trader, adding biscuits and toffees to the iced water business. Now this is where it gets tricky – Zenabu added soup to the biscuit business. But exactly what has soup got to do with biscuit in this part of our world? Absolutely nothing – except Zenabu’s dream, which was to open a chop bar.
“Soon people started bringing their food to buy soup. Then I realised I could add yam to the soup and so on,” she noted.
Nineteen years later after settling in Tamale, Zenabu owns a guesthouse and a chain of eateries. “I have become head of my family,” she noted.
Who from Zenabu’s family can scorn her? And who from the public can stigmatise her because she is disabled? Today as a Starr Woman, she proudly coaches other women with disabilities who dream of making something out of their lives under the Starr Woman Dream Edition project.
She added that “whatever you have opportunity to learn today, do it well because you never know when it comes in handy.”
Zenabu has given opportunities to her fellow women who have one disability or another so they are off the streets.
“Never look forward to huge sum of money before starting a business,” she stated.
Dressed neatly with light makeup and smiling, Zenabu had these powerful words for mentees under the Starr Woman Dream Edition: “Never think your disability is what prevents sales; it could be your appearance.”
Zenabu is married and has three kids and living her dream because she never looked down upon herself. To her, the sky can never even be her limit.