A superwoman redefining a male dominated occupation
By: Chris Koney
Historically, men have dominated several industries and it is eventually becoming a men-only club as described by several gender feminist campaigners. It is often argued that organizations are structured and function in ways that do not always support women’s career patterns. This is situated in the ability and the need for women to integrate their job roles with their family and other domestic responsibilities.
A group of gender advocates have continually criticized the invisible aspects of the male-dominated institutional culture that give lip service to gender empowerment strategies but continue to marginalize women when it comes to the real job situation. It has become a scenario of men predominantly recording the history of women and work through their eyes. This is a global phenomenal we have all been faced with over the years.
Born in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, Amma Naabia Boachie- Danquah can best be described as a non-conformist and a one in a million optimist. Her vocabulary excludes a key word, impossible, but accepts the existence of the concept of failure, something she describes as a simple misapprehension of the state of a person’s mind.
Naabia, as she is mostly referred to by her peers has defied all the odds to position herself in an industry not noted to have women practitioners. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Naabia Bassinets and More, a company into the production of custom–made furniture with wood, rattan (cane) and metal. With the current growth and popularity of her company, she is mostly referred to by most people as the “Female Carpenter”, a name she thinks is in appreciation of her dedication she brings to her work.
She is the first child of Nana Yaw Boachie- Danquah, then a lecturer at the Business School of the University of Ghana and Woyram Boachie Danquah, a politician and a businesswoman. Growing up on the University of Ghana campus, she had a humble beginning with her family’s focus and emphasis on education. Being a daughter of an academic, she stayed close to her books at all times whether at home or spending time in the library.
“Growing up was quite exciting though I was always encouraged to be by my books. I attended the University Primary School, Legon, for my primary education and then the Krobo Girls Secondary School for my secondary education. I gained admission into the University of Ghana where I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Geography. So, that was how I started my educational journey”, she said.
From her early years, Naabia had always nurtured the aspiration of taking after her mother to become an entrepreneur, whether full time or combine with her regular job. After university, she commenced a small gift delivery business with the Accra Metropolitan Assembly being her initial client. After some networking engagements and a business prospecting drive, she managed to secure Shell Ghana Limited as her major client.
Married with two children to Nana Yaw Osei Antwi, an Accra based businessman, Naabia had to move into the corporate world to build her career. “Just at the time my delivery business was moving into the next level, I had to move into another space, corporate Ghana, to build a career path for myself. I was in a dilemma initially but after discussing with my family and a few close friends, I made the move. In fact, I don’t regret making that decision and move”, she indicated.
Naabia’s corporate career started with Image Consortium as a Marketer and was responsible to signing on clients and exhibitors for the company’s construction exhibition show. She moved on to the British Council Ghana where she served as Project Coordinator for the UK Universities Exhibition. To take other challenges, she joined International Land Development Council, a branch of LMI Holdings as Business Development Manager then later became the Executive Assistant to the Founder and Group Chairman.
“It was during my time as the PA to the Group Chairman that I got another motivation and rekindled my love and interest for business management. I was introduced to the philosophy of placing premium on the customers and building structures and mechanisms to address all their needs with little or no engagement. It was a great time for me learning key rudiments of the trade which I would later apply to my personal business when I resigned”, Naabia said.
Experiences with my baby led me to the creation of my first and signature product known as a bassinet which will lead into the setting up of Naabia Bassinets and More. “It was done with cane and I sold the bassinet to a friend and I used her feedback to create a better version. I realized the guys I was working with on producing the bassinets could also make custom furniture out of wood, rattan (cane) and metal once they were supervised properly. That was how we started and like they always say, the rest is history”.
Naabia Bassinets and More has been in operations for almost three years now. Currently, Naabia has a staff strength of seventeen (17) workers with the task of making unique and tailor made furniture to suit the taste and budgets of their clients, both individuals and organizations. “I have done a lot of work for companies such Imperial Homes, FDN consult, +233 Jazz and Pub and a lot of individuals who would rather remain anonymous. We are not a mass-produced furniture company, that is our niche and makes our clientele very excited”, she added.
About some of the challenges encountered, Naabia said “some of the challenges I can talk about are raising funds to execute projects and also grow the company, attitude of local artisans, lack of local incentives for startups or small scale enterprises. This makes it very difficult and more especially as a woman but days when I feel like giving up, the person I look up to is Constance Swaniker, who is into metal works. She has been a huge motivation for me, venturing into this field was a huge step to take and she is still working so why not me. that is how I encourage myself to go on doing this”.
Naabia’s aim is to break the Ghanaian glass ceiling in carpentry and have a team, very daring and motivated to build units that are functional and very contemporary.