Are entrepreneurs born or made? While this discussion is relevant for years now, Joseph Agyepong story proves that he was a born entrepreneur who made every odd against him turn into a bigger opportunity. In the Western part of Africa, Joseph made millions out of revolutionizing solid waste disposals along with becoming country’s most beloved entrepreneur.
Jospeh was born in a lower class family. He had 17 siblings while his father was a photographer so the basic survival for Joseph included going to the farm to work before school, sleeping in mud houses without electricity and being a laborer in order to get food for a day. But that only strengthened him to achieve much more later on.
Joseph grabbed his first opportunity when the family moved from village to Accra with the help of his elder brother Daniel. He always wanted to be a pilot or marine engineer and therefore he also did an electrical engineering course back in 1990. Money was still a problem as his father could no longer support his dreams. He asked Joseph to join his mother in her little shop of exercise books. Although he took the opportunity in times of despair, that later led to the foundation of the most diversified company in Ghana.
Initially, he was disappointed to see his dreams crushed like that but there was a message that really clicked him to do better. The word said ‘obey thy father and mother and you shall be successful’. After that Joseph started putting all his effort into selling the exercise books which saved up money for his next businesses. His persistence resulted in more seasonal ventures and money for him.
But the first major breakthrough came when Joseph decided to build his own printing business. With only GHC3 ($0.70) in his pocket, he started pitching schools as a marketer and processed the order through other printing press with his own commission on those products. With that money, he bought a printing machine and made Jospong Printing Press in 1995.
He played the similar trick in his construction business where he outsourced building contracts to various local tradesmen and even during the Ghana elections he printed t-shirts in the campaign through Appointed Time Screen Printing.
But here comes the major part of his story, Ghana was facing a major issue of managing the solid wastes in 2006, which was damaging the environment rapidly. The United Nations Conference on Human Settlement report stated that between 33% and 50% of solid waste generated are not collected in low and middle-income countries.
They illegally dump it in streets or open spaces. This was not the first time as a 2002 report by the African Development Bank specified that Ghana generated about 3.6 million tons of solid waste per year. This was such a critical situation for the whole country that Joseph could not ignore.