TOO POSHED FOR TIME TO GO TO THE MAKIT – CALL D POSH MAKIT WOMAN (by Memuna Forna)
On Friday, last week, Joanne Peters aka D Posh Makit Woman, took me to Kroo Ton Road Market in Freetown, and shared her secrets. I learned how to buy the freshest fish, cassava leaves just picked, fine white Jasmin rice, the best dried fish, plump kanda and where to find ogiri that would make my grandmother proud.
Joanne is a personal food shopper. Sierra Leone’s first. She started her business in April this year with one million Leones, a Facebook page and one customer.
Sierra Leone’s go to personal food shopper
Now she is Freetown’s go-to personal food shopper, buying and prepping for around 50 regular customers, who may not have the time, experience or inclination to brave the bustle of Sierra Leone’s crowded markets and then embark on the time-consuming and complicated process of cleaning, peeling, chopping, beating, crushing, grinding or boiling the long-list of ingredients that go into cooking Sierra Leone’s local dishes.
It is an impressive growth rate for a new business.
The Covid effect
Part of it is attributable to restrictions put in place because of Covid-19. Lockdowns, quarantines and people’s reluctance to go into crowded spaces created a booming demand for Joanne’s services. On one memorable day, she shopped and prepped for 13 customers.
Her business idea is the direct result of her own experience. In a relationship, with a young son and a job, she found it difficult to manage her time. “It was a nightmare. After cleaning, taking care of the baby and shopping, I still had to prepare everything before cooking,” she remembers. “When I visited friends, I noticed many of them in the same situation.”
She started writing a business plan. A three month stay in Ghana cemented her conviction that there was a market for a personal food shopper in Sierra Leone. “In Ghana I saw how so much food shopping was done online. When I came back to Sierra Leone, I asked around to see if my friends thought a personal food shopper business would work in Sierra Leone. Most were doubtful. They said people have maids who go to the market and do the food preparation for them, or prefer to do it for themselves.”
You’re too posh for this!
Nevertheless she persisted, borrowed the start-up capital from her uncle and set up her Facebook page. On the first day, a customer placed an order worth one million Leones. When she delivered the order, her customer commented in surprise – you’re far too posh for this, and D Posh Makit Woman was born.
Her customers mainly come through word of mouth. She also uses social media to market the business and has a high profile on Instagram and Facebook.
The skills behind her success
Behind the deceptively simple appearance of her business is a web of skills. Customer care is paramount, so is time management and confident digital marketing and management skills. But her real USP is her talent for marrying modern business skills, with an ability to identify and select the best produce and build trusting professional relationships with Sierra Leone’s market-women.
“Throughout my teenage years, I went to the market for my grandmother. Every day for three to four years, I would go to the market and then prep the ingredients. My grandmother was very particular. I’d have to go back if I didn’t buy exactly the right thing. I learned how to assess the quality of ingredients. That was my training.”
Her interaction with the market women she buys from is illustrative of the value of building good relationships. She asks after their families, knows the names of their children, and was careful to explain the nature of the business and why she might buy from one market woman one day and from another the next. It builds trust and prevents bad feelings.
Plans for the future
She already employs two staff and has a clear plan for growing her business. She has written to the mayor with her idea for posh market stalls in Freetown’s markets. Shoppers can buy from their usual market women, then take their purchases to Joanne’s posh market stall to be prepped and processed. Then too there’s the export side of her business, which shows potential.
The best businesses offer a solution to a problem. D Posh Makit Woman doesn’t actually buy and sell hog foot, peppeh, oysters, krain krain or dry fish. She sells time and convenience to busy men and women. That’s the real secret of her success.
7 thoughts on “TOO POSHED FOR TIME TO GO TO THE MAKIT – CALL D POSH MAKIT WOMAN (by Memuna Forna)”
Stories like these really warm the heart, to see someone who has rolled their sleeves up and decided to trust their instinct and act on their idea is inspiring. Well done Joanne.
thank you sir.
Joanne, WOW!! I am impressed by your wonderful, unique business idea in SL. This is indeed brilliant. Please keep it up. The world is your oyster.
Great idea, I can see her building her brand and will look out for her service when next in Freetown.
Brilliant! You only have to take the first. Indeed one day at a time. It will grow from 💪 💪 💪 to strength. Will check you out when in Salone.
This is so admirable, all the best Joanne. I will surely be using the services of the Posh Makit Woman.
Impressive. Business minded. One don’t need millions to start from small to big. If you are looking to invest in a startup in Freetown, Sierra Leone invest in Joanne Peters. I will use your service anytime I’m in Freetown and I will surely invest in your business if you are looking for expansion. You can email me and I will refer you to my company managing Director on the investment if you are looking for expansion