- Nancy Afotey Tawiah, a Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology alumnus has become a successful Doctor of Pharmacy and CEO of a cake brand called Weston Cakes GH
- A rejection by the Medical School of both University of Ghana and KNUST turned into a blessing which helped Nancy Afotey Tawiah realize that Pharmacy was the best career choice for her
- The goal of the 25-year-old driven lady is to build her cake business into a household brand just like KFC and other top food brands
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Nancy Afotey Tawiah grew up very free spirited and preferred to live in the moment even at a young age. As her mates were going about hopping from one dream career unto the other, Nancy remained calm and collected looking forward to what life had in store for her.
Typical of most African parents, just 'going with the flow' did not sit well with Nancy's folks hence they decided to choose for her. They wanted their child to become a medical doctor, the profession which is admired and respected by many in society. With little to no choice, Nancy set out to become just that.
She successfully went through basic education and gained admission to Archbishop Porter Girls' Senior High School. She arrived in school very poised to go through the very processes that would pave way to achieving the end goal set for her by her parents but little did she know that life had a completely different plan for her.
Getting rejected by KNUST and University of Ghana (UG) Medical School after passing entrance exams
Her time in secondary school was very well spent. She focused on her books and took her science program very seriously. She was fully aware of the fact that, that was the gateway to the future she had come to know. It was therefore no surprise when she aced her WASSCE and got called by both KNUST and UG Medical School. What followed next was, however, unexpected.
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"After applying and being called by both schools at different time of course, I took entrance exams and passed. The next step was the interview. I went through the process in both schools and I must say they were not difficult. I was very hopeful I'd at least get into one of the universities but that was not the case.
The results were released and I didn't make it to either school. I must say, it was very hard for me", she told YEN.com.gh in an interview.
With a huge stumbling block between 'the dream job' and herself, Nancy had to stay home for a year but got a job to keep herself busy for the time being. In her waiting period, she met a man who presented other career options to her.
"I taught in a private school for a while and also volunteered in a hospital. At one point, a friend of mine, Mr Alex Tabil suggested I apply for the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D) program at KNUST.
That was my first time hearing about it. I did a little research and suddenly that was all I wanted. I realised then that I really had no interest in medicine and it was only because I thought that was the right path for me"
Getting her parents to support her decision to ditch the prestigious medical doctor route for pharmacy took a lot of convincing but fortunately, they came on board. She applied for the program and thankfully got in.
After six packed years of Pharmacy and a licensing exams, the driven young lady officially became Dr Nancy Afotey Tawiah (Pharm D) at the age of 24.
"My experience with Pharm D was actually a love-hate relationship. My love for the program actually increased everyday considering how diverse it was and the many opportunities I could explore but I hated the stress, the lab reports, daily lab quizzes and all the things they came with, and no, nobody told me it was going to be this tough.
Imagine me calling my mum and crying that this program wasn’t meant for me but what kept me going were God, my study group and the determination to succeed."
Venturing into the cake business space
Having a mother whose hobby was cooking and baking meant free supply of delicious meals and at the same time, getting her cooking skills rubbed on her. Two things got her extremely interested in baking; asking questions and witnessing the joy her mother's craft brought to others.
" I really loved to help out and being super nosy about everything she did. She’d sometimes sack me from the kitchen for asking 'too many questions'. I also loved how the end products always made everyone happy", she told YEN.com.gh.
One thing she also delighted in during her time at KNUST was bringing pastries from Prestea, where she resides to her friends anytime school resumed from a vacation. She loved how they always looked forward to getting yummy cakes, pies, chips among other goodies from her.
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It was this same feeling and joy she got from bringing smiles to her friends' faces that the 25-year-old decided to properly learn all there is to know about baking cakes and pastries. You see, it got to a point where Nancy's mother could not always provide pastries for her friends and with that, she learnt how to bake with some guidance from her mother.
"My friends were always waiting for pastries at the beginning of every semester and I was not about to disappoint them. So, whenever my mum was unable to make it for me, I would go ahead and buy the ingredients and ask her to guide me bake them. This helped me learn the craft quickly."
Having acquired the baking skills, the next thing was to learn how to decorate cakes and as serious and committed as Nancy is, she enrolled in a number of classes and did just that.
Birthing the idea of cake business as a side job
One of the qualities Nancy can boast of thanks to her background in Pharmacy is being a problem solver. She realized how difficult it was to get birthday gifts in the town she grew up in and chose to do something about it. She therefore turned her cake baking hobby into an actual business to help bring joy to people during their birthdays. With this, she proceeded with the necessary preparations.
"The first thing I did was to create a budget and try to source the income I’d need. I later realized that my budget was too low but thanks to my mother who had about 70% of the things I needed, I was able to proceed.
The next thing was building a solid brand. I asked a couple of friends to suggest names and it took us two whole weeks to finally settle on the name of the brand. A friend of mine called Caleb also helped design my logo and tag for me and all that was left was praying into the business"
Juggling being a full-time Pharmacist and baking cakes on the side
Nancy works as a full-time pharmacist and at the same time runs her business on the side. She enjoys being in the two different worlds but one thing she always make sure of is ensuring that one does not get in the way of the other.
"I usually do my baking in the evenings after work or early morning before I go to work depending on when the cake is needed. Sometimes it’s a real struggle to stay awake but we do it anyway because we love it."
Her major challenge, however, is funding and her location of residence. Cake tools and equipment, ingredients and accessories are not cheap because they are scarce where she stays.
"Sometimes one can barely see the hard work paying off because of the need to keep re-investing and there are moments that can be discouraging. My current location, Prestea makes accessibility difficult because of the state of our roads hence I'm usually left with no choice than to order from online shops which makes the cost of production a bit high because delivery cost also comes in."
As much as there are challenges she faces with her business, Nancy believes she is capable of rising above them all and looks forward to building a bigger and better cake empire that would become a household name just like the KFCs and other top business brands.
Nancy is proud to call herself a Doctor of Pharmacy who spreads love and joy through her delicious and mouthwatering cake recipes.
Bakers King: Meet Ghanaian Military Officer who Creates Extraordinary cake Designs
Meanwhile, YEN.com.gh earlier reported that Corporal Amenyo, a gifted Ghanaian military officer who runs his own bakery called Bakers King emerged as one of Ghana's most extraordinary cake bakers.
Speaking to YEN.com.gh, the corporal who is located at Kojo Thomson Road, Adabraka, opposite Rawlings chambers in the Greater Accra Region revealed that his passion for baking dates way back.
According to him, he picked the talent from his mother but had never really paid full attention to it until he decided to take it serious somewhere last year before the lockdown.
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