Not all college dropouts turned into instant success as they fearlessly ventured out with nothing but an idea. Some are still on their journey hoping to find the eureka moment.
Think of all those who dropped out of school to chase a dream and ended up having that big bright smile on their face for never giving up. Ghanaian energy entrepreneur, Sulley Amin Abubakar is one of them.
Although Sulley never dropped out of college per se but he ditched law school to chase his renewable energy dream which became a success. However, it wasn’t an instant success. There’s probably no such thing as “instant success” in the entrepreneurial world. It’s all trial and error until something truly sticks.
After dropping out of law school in Ghana, Sulley founded energy company Zaacoal Limited using his school fees. One would need more that one heart to make such a decision.
Founded in 2014, Zaacoal produces clean, long burning and high heat charcoal from coconut waste. Seven years into the business, Sulley’s company was named 2021’s Green Corporate Star under the prestigious EMY Africa Awards in October, 2021.
In Ghana’s biggest charcoal factory, Sulley with his employees produce smokeless charcoal for the people at affordable prices. And it is quite healthy for the community.
Zaacoal was born in 2014, the production started in 2015 with 5 bags of fuel produced a day and moved to 500 bags a day in just 2 years; moreover, we moved from one vendor to over 50 vendors, one supermarket chain and a string of hotels and restaurants. With Africa using about 30 million tons of charcoal annually, mostly as primary cooking fuel, Zaacoal provides the best alternative to a climate-conscious world – Sully Amin
In his previous interview with E4Impact, Sulley shared more about his journey and his message for young entrepreneurs in Africa:
How was your Business Idea born?
The business idea came about after I realized the rate of deforestation, pollution and the death associated with cooking fuels in Ghana. I have felt I could have done something and out of curiosity Zaacoal came about. A Ghana Audit report estimates that out of over 2000 tons of waste generated daily in Accra, only 500 tons is collected daily. Most of these are organic waste. Zaacoal makes charcoal (Energy) from these coconut and other organic wastes.
How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities?
Our business is improving the lives of many people, especially women and children, who live close to the open fires; we are, moreover, creating both direct and indirect jobs through our vendors and waste collectors. We are increasing the income levels of our beneficiaries.
What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience?
My biggest challenge has been to validate my idea as a viable business venture. I had several doubts about the idea in the beginning and I would have never imagined that one day I would have had customers. But as we speak, Zaacoal sells out at all our sales points. It is never easy to change habits and minds of people who are used to certain products which are different from ours, but we are gradually succeeding in doing it.
In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?
I think the main qualities an entrepreneur should have are passion and the will to face and overcome every challenge he may run into. I believe passion is the steam that drives the train and once you lose it, you are done.
Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e. an entrepreneur or a particular mentor?
My biggest inspiration have been my grandmothers, who without any education were able to run their own businesses and keep the family together. Aside them, Steve Jobs has been a great inspiration for me.
What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?
I would tell him to be consistent, committed to the course, to not burn bridges as they will turn out to be useful some day.
Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?
One particular satisfactory moment has certainly been when I first saw my product stocked in a shop. I had always wanted to have my product in. In that moment I realized that everything can be possible if you really want it.
By Elijah Christopher