YEN.com.gh kickstarts a new business series, spotlighting the men and women behind some of the known and cherished brands in Ghana. We find out their journey, the challenges, as well as their business philosophy and underlying principles to the success.
Our first YEN CEO of the Week is Stephen Eku, CEO of Emigoh Ghana Limited, producers of Ghana’s loved yoghurt brand Yomi and more. He shares with us a bit of his family life, educational background, and how he and his wife were able to build Ghana’s best known drinking probiotic yoghurt.
Who is the man behind Yomi and Yayo yoghurt products - tell us 5 things about yourself outside work life?
Beyond my work life, I am also a father and a husband. I have three lovely kids, 2 boys and a girl. I also have a beautiful wife who has been my partner for the past thirteen years in raising our children and building the business.
I am a good footballer and a voracious reader. I love learning and spending time with friends especially the young and ambitious who are creative and hard working. I love to associate with them and give them opportunities to build them so far as my strength can support. That is to say I love mentoring.
I also spend time with my family.
How did your background prepare you for your role as CEO of Emigoh Ghana?
My childhood was filled with interesting activities. I used to farm with my mother. She would have us cultivate our own portions in the farm. I learned a lot of great lessons from there. Those have been the foundation of my exploits in business.
I studied pharmacy at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. I am an idealist and a visionary and I follow my dreams. I used to write and paste ideas on the walls of my room when I was in school. My wife to be at the time would visit and see all that. That has been part of me.
I also had the opportunity to work as a Medical Delegate for a couple of pharmaceutical companies where I built my expertise in marketing and branding. I am also good at product formulations. I read a lot and keep an open mind. This allows me to learn a lot.
I also try to surround myself with smart people and give keen attention to details. However I recognise the fact that we are still not where we desire to be. We are not there yet! We believe in striving for continues excellence in a truly different way.
How would you describe Emigoh?
Emigoh a is nutrition and Health Company. The name was derived from my daughter’s name, Yomigoh which actually means ‘woman of substance’. Our first brand is Yomi and the company name is Emigoh. We started with catering services and evolved into a yoghurt manufacturing company as a result of the high demand for the freshly prepared yoghurt category of our products.
Our philosophy and fundamental purpose is to make the future better and worth living by building a first class organisation that caters for our people, our customers and the world through quality health and nutrition.
What has been your most substantial accomplishment in the Ghanaian Food and Nutrition Industry?
We are currently in 6 regions in the country. Thus Greater Accra, Eastern Region, Central Region, Western Region, Ashanti Region and Volta Region. We are now extending into the Brong Ahafo and the Northern regions of Ghana.
We celebrate the fact that we have stayed focused on what we promised to deliver to Ghanaians; high quality food that provides great choice, great taste and great excitement to consumers.
We have excelled beyond manufacturing to provide nutrition and health seminars to our cherished consumers especially for those in the corporate environment who have more sedentary lifestyles. In this regard we extend invitation to all corporate entities to join our shared values in creating a healthy environment and workforce through our nutrition and health seminars and programs.
We are also fortunate to have Yomi known to be Ghana’s best and known drinking probiotic yoghurt and have tried to be a consistent and reliable brand in the supply chain. We have had challenges along the way but stayed resilient to those challenges.
For our first time this year participating in the JOY FM’s corporate sport competition, I had the blessing of winning the CEO’s championship competition and our team emerged first in the football competition as well. I believe this is a no mean feat achievement and we are humbly proud of our team members!
Apart from the Popular Yomi yoghurt, what other products does EMIGOH produce?
We currently make Yoghurts - diary and non diary Yoghurts.We have three categories and these are plain dairy yoghurt( the Yomi brand);Yoghurt with cereals like wheat, millet, (Yomi plus); and plant based Yoghurt (Yayo yoghurt).
All these categories come with different flavouring like Strawberry, vanilla, pineapple etc. These are nicely packaged for convenience in both 330mls and 2liters and can be ordered online.
The cereal provides fiber that promotes efficient digestion that normalises bowel movements; helps maintain bowel health, lowers cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels. It also aids in achieving healthy weight.
All our Sku’s (products) contain probiotics. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help prevent and treat some illnesses promoting a healthy gut and immune system. The non-diary brand, Yayo was formulated having vegans and vegetarians in mind.
What makes Emigoh products the best choice on the market?
At Emigoh one of our core values is quality. We believe in making products of the finest standard. Our products are nourishing and provides consumers with great satisfaction.
We have constantly and continually met FDA requirement and have built credibility overtime because we try to excel in compliance. Consumers appreciate known brands because known and good brands psychologically create familiarity in the minds of consumers and builds trust. That’s what we have tried to do over the years.
We have consistently tried to maintain that trust with our consumers and that’s why they are loyal to us. We are always the first to innovate because we constantly seek opportunity to improve on the current. We are the first to introduce cereals in drinking yoghurt. And also use soya milk in formulating soya yoghurt (Yayo).
Our unique packaging speaks of itself and provides convenience and prestige for those who take it.
As you expand into the Northern Regions of Ghana, do you have any plans for the concerns of child malnutrition in those areas?
Certainly yes! Our company is built on the philosophy of building a first class organisation that caters for the world through quality health and nutrition.
We have plans to develop quality diary and non products at lower price points to meet the needs of the malnourished in the North. This we believe will be more feasible as we develop new market there and carry out our corporate social responsibilities there. We believe in giving back to the communities where we thrive and where there are fewer opportunities for the people to flourish.
Are Emigoh products available for the international market?
We are currently not in the international market. There are more opportunities to exploits locally and we want to ensure that we meet local demands before going international. We don’t want to run faster than our strength and disappoint internal partners but we are walking deligently to get there.
We are sure to speed up when we develop the muscle to get there soon. We are not in haste because we believe we are doing the right thing and have the support of the almighty who knoweth all things. We want to be sure that we will do well internationally with regards to the quality of our products if we decide to go international
Where do you See Emigoh in the next 5 years?
We want Emigoh to build one of the best in class manufacturing facilities in the world. We also want to excel in business excellence and built a profitable company that is not only interested in making money but creating value for all stakeholders especially for our employees and the communities we work with.
We want to have one of the most motivated workforces you can ever have across the world. We want our people to be happy with their work and create lovely families, build an environment where they are equipped with the necessary skills, opportunities and logistics to build their careers.
We also want to see ourselves as a company doing business beyond the borders of Ghana and the West African Sub region. As a CEO, I have to create modules that works, find the resources and create motivation and incentive packages that will build our aspirations. This implies sourcing talents that will create a winning team and make vital strategic decision that can be implemented by all within our teams. No body is going to be intimidated. We want to create a free and fair environment where people will be honest to speak their minds and make contributions in a more diplomatic and respectful way. That is what we believe in.
What would be your message for young entrepreneurs who aspire to be like you?
I will like to share something I learned from one business philosopher, Jim Rohn, and this is what he says:
"Ideas are NOT reserved for people who wish, Ideas are NOT reserve for people who complain, Ideas are NOT reserve for people who are lucky, Good ideas are reserved for people who search, If you search, you will find”
I think young people should search for good ideas, after all everything we see and use today was an idea in someone’s mind. These ideas will become reality if the follow it through with passion, and so I define entrepreneurship as ideas plus inspiration. T
They also have to be hardworking. According to creation science, God created heaven and earth with only words but it took him seven days, what does that tells us? Hard work! There is no rush in life, the race is not for the swift - consistency is the key.
They should take their education serious because a trained mind is a prepared mind. Even if you don’t have the opportunity to school you can learn skills that can help you succeed.
They should have good role models whose lives can be a guide. You may not necessarily meet them but you can read what they write and listen to the good they say.
Again the weakest pen is better than the best memory so any time you get an idea, write it down. Brian Tracy says, “if you think it, Ink it”
But most importantly, the younger generation must stay humble and be teachable. Said the Savior ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. If you are humble and teachable you can achieve greatness. But they must have a plan and stay focused to their plan because “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail”.