Meeting “Mr Breakfast” – Newton’s Story

Our Balloon ICS volunteers work with entrepreneurs from a wide range of backgrounds. Many are first-time business owners with only a big idea. Some, however, like Newton in Ho, Ghana, have had businesses before and are looking to branch out into something new. Here, one of our ICS volunteers, Selasi Amedodah, writes from their placement in Ho to tell us a little about Newton and his inspirational story.

It’s been a manic week for us as a working group. We have been working closely with all of our entrepreneurs to try to inspire and encourage them to test new, and relatively risky, ideas. This week has been particularly exciting for one of our entrepreneurs, Newton who, after a lot of deliberation, has at long last chosen and set up a new business. He has successfully started selling breakfast packages to the locals in Ho, but before settling on this idea, Newton’s journey had a few twists and turns along the way.

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A charismatic young man with big dreams, Newton initially joined the Balloon programme to see if we could help him pursue his music career. To start with, as a group we were a bit stuck with how to approach working with Newton. He was unlike any of our other entrepreneurs who already had small businesses which they were looking to grow. But we took the time to get to know him and see what we could do. After a few meetings with Newton we learned much more about him besides his passion for music. He formerly worked as a head chef at a hotel in town, and currently owns a mobile credit and transfer store which is his current primary source of income. Just as importantly, the more we spent time with him the more we realised how much of a fun person he is to be around, as he has a great sense of humour. With the extensive skills and background Newton had gained throughout his career, we wondered about the possibility of him venturing into a different business on top of his mobile money shop.

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We proposed to help Newton reach his musical dreams in another way – by supporting him to find a new business venture that utilises his skills in order to raise enough finance for his music projects.  He decided to take us up on our proposition and we started the task of brainstorming new ideas for Newton to try. Together, we came up with many ideas, ranging from innovating his mobile credit stall; to providing a call centre service; to selling different flavoured popcorn; and, after testing a few ideas, we struck gold with a start-up business idea. We discussed selling breakfast without a shop to passers-by. It seemed to tick all the boxes and initial market research with potential customers showed there was demand for the business.

Excited about the possibility that this could work we wasted no time, and on the same day as conducting and analysing his market research, Newton bought all the ingredients for breakfast to test the idea the very next morning.

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The first day of sales was a difficult one. We missed the mark on a few things such as timing and location, but Newton didn’t let any of these things phase him. He demonstrated one of the true qualities of an entrepreneur and woke up the next morning determined to learn from his mistakes and sell again. Witnessing Newton on his first day selling was a valuable experience which taught us so much. We went through the range of emotions that Newton felt throughout that morning, and we were able to encourage him through the low times when he felt like giving up. We helped him to overcome his fear of failing that day and after getting a few sales he was determined to keep selling and working on his business every day. We are so pleased with what Newton has achieved so far, and the reward of seeing him confidently sell his goods has made the challenge worthwhile.

Newton now sells breakfast on a daily basis. But the journey doesn’t stop here, we’re testing new innovations every day. Our next challenge is to borrow from his passion for music and develop a ‘breakfast song’ so that his future customers can hear him coming…

Our entrepreneurs come from all walks of life. What unites them is their passion, their drive and their determination. We have hundreds of great entrepreneur stories to tell, and our volunteers fill our inbox with new blogs and stories each week!

If you would like to make your own Balloon story, then consider applying for Balloon ICS, a unique fully-funded 10 week volunteering opportunity where you can work with entrepreneurs like Newton to grow their business. Visit www.balloonics.org for further information.

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