Self-Care + Growth Advice for the African Entrepreneur featuring Joyful Deli and Desserts

This is for the entrepreneur who spends their week chasing deadlines and munching on snacks, wedged between staring contests with their laptop, endless Zoom meetings and crossing out and adding tasks to their to-do lists. May we balance our hustle with self-care, rest and relaxation.

My endorphins back flipped with every bite, and the round, delicious snack wrapped me up in a soothing comfort. I nervously peeked into the box. ‘How many do I have left?’ I wondered. This treat was everything I wished for and I didn’t want it to end. Who would have known I would receive such happiness from a cupcake?

In the age of COVID, to say ‘Having work is a blessing’ is an understatement! However, as humans, we are herd animals, and with COVID-19, self-isolation and over-working can lead to loneliness, and in some cases depression.

In Ghana, mental illness is now coming into focus as a legitimate health condition. Nelson, a Bolt driver in Accra, tells of his experience with the idea of depression in the Ghanaian home.

“Most people don’t believe in depression. They equate it to stress. If you tell a typical African parent you are depressed they will tell you to go and sleep, especially the fathers. The mothers do try though. They pay more attention to it than the dads. Now that it is coming into the media, and young ladies are speaking out about it, more awareness is being created. The older generation don’t see it as a thing that much.”

I was so inspired by my fleeting love affair with a Joyful Deli and Desserts cupcake that I knew I had to meet the owner and mastermind behind this establishment. On a sunny day in Accra, I stopped by Joyful Deli and Desserts to interview Joy, who I talked to on Whatsapp and discovered that she too was a Ghanaian repatriate.

The place is neat! Their brightly colored chairs and round wooden tables give an eclectic, yet bright and modern vibe to the place. With ‘Slow Down’ by R2Bees humming in the background and delectable desserts filling the shop, millennial Ghanaians stood, socially distancing and chatting jovially while placing their orders.

Joy, owner of Joyful Deli and Desserts

Joy, the owner of Joyful Deli and Desserts, walks in gracefully, masked up of course. It was great to finally meet this tenacious entrepreneur. Joy is a Ghanaian native who grew up in Accra until she was 11 and moved to London. From age 18 she visited Ghana regularly, for three months each time, and then moved after university.

She describes the events that led to her opening Joyful Deli and Desserts: “I had been interested in baking since 19 or 20. When I moved here I continued baking and searching for jobs. I wasn’t getting the results I needed through the job search. I also did internships but that didn’t prove fruitful. My friends love my food and encouraged me to start a business around it. They made an Instagram for me and the rest was history. That was 8 years ago. I opened the storefront in January 2018.”

COVID hasn’t negatively affected Joyful Deli and Desserts the way Joy anticipated. It has rather ramped up the social media/online management. Joy muses that businesses who already were doing online transactions were less affected by COVID. Joyful already did a lot of deliveries, but now there are more deliveries, and the bakery exercises even stronger hygiene practices than before. Initially, it wasn’t safe for staff to travel so she did deliveries herself.

As an extremely dedicated entrepreneur, Joy admits that she struggles to find a balance. She says there are 2 types of entrepreneurial mindsets: kill the game yourself or overestimate how many people you need/hire too many people in the beginning. She, for instance, is the first type of entrepreneur, starting at 6am and closing at 2am. She doesn’t advise entrepreneurs to push themselves to the max. She says: “No matter how rewarding you think it is, you only have one body. Take even one day to let your mind and body relax, or else you will be getting 50 and 60 and be aging prematurely.” She also advises new business owners to save as much as possible to not max out their cash flow.

When she turned 17 she began to learn about depression, and says it definitely existed but her family, and many African societies, believe that naming a thing makes it too real. For instance, a family will know it is happening, but they would rather pray over it and surround an individual with love than vocalize it. Joy recalls: “We didn’t dwell in feelings when I was growing up. It was more like get up, get moving and get going.”

Being an entrepreneur is something Joy has long embarked on. She started selling products at age 9, and as a business savy person, doing business makes her happy.

Here is Joy’s advice for entrepreneurs:

Do research first to see what’s available and why it is available

Look for the gaps in society and learn how you call fill this in

Know your audience

Create deadlines

As many seeds of the African diaspora plan to relocate to Ghana, Joy gives special repatriation advice: “Attitudes differ, cultural norms and peoples’ reactions to information and circumstances differ. If you are not patient or adaptable, moving is tough. People should continue visiting until they know it is right for them. Ghana is lovely and fun but it also requires a mindset change.”

For entrepreneurs that have not yet made the move to Ghana, Joy wants them to know that:

“Ghana is an untapped market. There are so many things that you can start or try and grow here. Here you need a lot less money and there are a lot less economic factors. It is still difficult, but with determination and grit you can get so much done. You don’t have to worry about race or social background. If your product is good you can get stuff done.

Look at the things we have outside and the convenience it provides. Understand that we might not have it here and find a way to provide that convenience. Also, understand with Ghanaian workers that it is a different culture. Talk to them like family andfriends. Have a lot of patience. You need a lot of patience in Ghana but you can do very well. There are also a lot of tech opportunities in Ghana.”

Joy wants customers to know that if there are any items they want but are not yet available, to let Joyful Deli and Desserts know. “We just want to be able to provide happiness to the creature comfort. From the products to the colors, we want to provide that happiness.”

In providing positive outlets for entrepreneurs to experience rest and relaxation, Joyful Deli and Desserts fuels the creative economy here in Ghana, and inspires more entrepreneurs to also find creative ways to fit the needs of the people. Their treats are seriously delicious and will invigorate your endorphins! The cupcakes, donuts, cheesecakes, cookies #YouNameIt! Stop by their shop on Walnut Street in East Legon. You can also find them on Instagram at @JoyfulCakesGH and on FB at Joyful Deli and Desserts.

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