The Readers Hub-GH brings you another insightful and thrilling encounter from our Social Convo session as we engage one of our ardent readers with vast and demonstrable experience in both the field of academia and the world of business.

Our guest for tonight’s Social Convo session does a lot of research work as an Agric Economist, a practicing teacher, and a ground breaking entrepreneur. He has demonstrated some outstanding achievements which are worth dissecting. Indeed; he is an avid reader, a multi-purpose personality with a flaming passion for entrepreneurship. In short, a “hidden talent discovered”.

With the help of one of our Moderators Haadi Bachang, our guest will take us through his life’s journey thus far, the motivators, the drives, strengths and weaknesses, and possibly the secret of his enviable achievements.

Ladies and Gentlemen, sit still and enjoy this most informative, insightful and thrilling encounter with The Readers Hub-GH (Social Convo) session.

Haadi: With your permission and all protocols observed, I welcome our guest for tonight’s Social Convo with the Readers Hub, Mr. Yahaya Abdulai. Sir, you are welcome.

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Thank you Haadi. And good evening to everyone here tonight, it’s an honour and a rare privilege to share my story on this noble platform.

Haadi: We are glad and honoured to have you on this ‘cold’ and friendly seat.

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Thank you my brother.

Haadi: You have been described as a hidden talent discovered. Who is Mr. Yahaya Abdulai? We want to know more about this discovered hidden talent.

Yahaya Abdulai: That is quite an interesting description. As already introduced, my full name is Yahaya Abdulai, I was born some 36 years ago in Jisonayili, Tamale and I come from a polygamous family with 13 other siblings. I am a passionate young man who is relentless in getting my ideas implemented whenever I conceive same. I am action-driven and results oriented; I talk less but listen more. To this extend therefore; some people regard me as a reserved person. I love tennis and I actually play quite well. I love soccer too and always crave to see my favorite Barcelona play

Haadi: Kindly take us through the journey of your education please.

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: As regards my educational background: Permit me to bore you a little with a story about my first day in school which I find quite intriguing. And speaking through the voice of my mother, she narrates:

My mum told me unlike my first son and many other kids who cry on their first day at school, I seem very different and loved school. She narrated how I used to pressurize her to be sent to school even at age 4. At age 5 in 1989 I remember vividly that fateful day I picked a stool used by my mum help her stir T.Z. Those days kids used to carry their seats to school, I mean the public schools. I followed my elder siblings with the stool on my tiny head and tailed them to school.

 When we got to the school, one of my brothers pointed at the kids seated under a mango tree, I walked towards the tree and was welcomed by the class madam. She quizzed “A yuli” in Dagbani meaning what is your name? Gbengbedoo I murmured, she smiled and asked again “A ba yuli” what’s your father’s name? Wulana I said. At this time, she burst into uncontrollable laughter and the whole class joined her, apparently both names were a nickname and a chieftaincy title respectively which my dad and I were commonly called at home. The meaning of this name will be narrated some other day.

The class teacher sent for my brothers who came and mentioned my name as Yahaya and my surname as Abdulai and that was the day I knew my real name as Yahaya and daddy’s name as Abdulai. Even though it was supposed to be the happiest day in my life, it was almost marred by the action of my class teacher, I was sad but that didn’t prevent me from going to the school the next day, I was determined.

Haadi: Wow! Impressive!

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: That said, I went to Jisonayili Islamic primary before I proceeded to 1st November 1954 JSS – Gurugu. After my BECE I was admitted into Ghana Secondary School. I completed Ghanasco in 2002 and went to Tamale Training College in 2003 where I was trained as a teacher. I completed Tatco in 2006 and taught for less than a year then I got admission into the university in 2007.

I offered Agric tech in UDS and completed with a second-class upper division in 2011. I did my national service in 2012 and went back for my postgraduate studies in 2013. I graduated with an MPhil in Agric economics in 2015.

To fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a lecturer and with a PhD almost becoming the minimum requirement to teach in the universities in Ghana now, I was encouraged by my supervisor to continue with my PhD. So, I applied and got admission to study PhD in Agric economics in 2016 in UDS. I am currently in final year trying to finish my thesis.

Haadi: Marvelous! But did you really mean 1st November, 1954?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Exactly! That is the name of the school which is situate, lying and being at Gurugu, a suburb of Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana.

Haadi: Indeed, this brief profile explains why you are a teacher and an Agric economist. But I have this piece from the Business and Financial Times newspaper. What do you actually do as a career?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: This paper says the young poultry Farmer who ‘cannot be stopped by a virus’. I was indeed contacted by BF&T to share my story in the wake of the Covid-19 crises that bedeviled the whole world and its rippling effects on businesses.

It is worth stating that, at any point in my life, I find myself multitasking; I think that’s the only way to survive the economic turbulence in this country. At the moment I am an entrepreneur (farmer), a teacher, a student and a consultant. I currently consult for Savings Bank Foundation for International Cooperation (SBFIC), a project that seeks to provide entrepreneurial skills to returnee and potential migrants from Germany and other countries.

Haadi: Wow! Multitasking indeed! Man must survive! Going forward, you seem to have made some worthy achievements, as indicated in the BF&T newspaper; not even a virus can stop you. May we know what you do differently?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Not that much. But you know one of the incentives for teachers is time; you close at 1.30 to 2pm. The rest of the day is wasted, so I find a way to utilize that time

And as we already know, Covid-19 came with its challenges to many businesses, in our case our sales went down by more than 50% so we had to take some drastic measures to stay in business which include formulating our own feed for our birds and reducing the prices of our products. We also had to bring more customers on board just so that we could stay afloat. Poultry is a capital-intensive venture and comes with its numerous challenges,

Haadi:  In view of your entrepreneurial successes, can you take us down the memory lane on your breakthrough, some of the challenges faced, and how you confronted those challenges?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: In 2014 after unsuccessful efforts to change a job, I decided to further my education (post graduate studies) so I took a loan to do just that. However, a thought crept into my mind and I asked myself what if I complete my masters and still don’t get my desired job.

 So instead of using the whole amount to pay for my master’s program, I did part payment and used the other half to start the farm in anticipation that I could recoup the rest from the business to pay for the fees the next year. But things didn’t go as planned. I encountered a lot of challenges because the amount I kept in the business was woefully inadequate so I had to find ways to keep the business going. I started moving around for support from family and friends. Finally, I got a grant from Technoserve and that helped in sustaining the business.

Haadi: wow! You were so lucky. TechnoServe was a God sent. Sir, kindly help us understand some of the issues that account for our failures in life especially on entrepreneurship and how to overcome same?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Indeed, I must say TecnoServe was God sent. Now going forward, I think failure is a relative term. Whilst some see it as positive and a springboard to success, others think it is negative and the worst thing that can happen to anyone.

To the extent that we see failure as negative then we can never start anything. One can only avoid failure by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing. In other words, failure is inevitable in any endeavor.

 I always tell my students that if you are doing a business without failing then u are not doing something right; you are not being creative; you are only sticking to the status quo. Sticking to the status quo in this competitive environment will only leave you behind. So, in a nutshell, for you to succeed in any chosen endeavor we must be ready to fail and fail fast. When we fail fast, it gives us the opportunity to recover fast. So personally, I think failure is normal and we must learn to pick ourselves up and move forward when we fail.

Haadi: From your experience, what is your position on youth empowerment and the best way forward?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: I am a firm believer of the famous quote by Nelson Mandela when he said “the youth today are tomorrow’s leaders”. If these words are true then we have no choice than to do all that it takes to empower our youth. In this regard, education is a key factor and nonnegotiable. Indeed, access to quality education must be a right to all. With the increasing unemployment amongst graduates from our tertiary institutions, TVET should be encouraged to equip the youth with the right skills and knowledge to start their own businesses when they complete.

 In a related development, our current educational system doesn’t encourage entrepreneurship; it is too theoretical and uninspiring to say the least; so, you often hear the industry players complaining that the universities are churning out graduates who are unfit for purpose.

I think there are right and that trend must change if we mean well for the nation. With the rise in technology and the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI), a complete overhaul of our education is needed otherwise we risk being irrelevant in the workspace and job market in the not too distant future.

Haadi: Points well noted. Sir, as a member of THE READERS HUB, any book you read that has shaped or impacted your life so much that you would like to share with us?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: One book that I read here has to do with “Rich Dad poor Dad” written by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. It is a book that advocates for the importance of financial literacy, financial independence and building wealth through investing in assets. It has really shaped me ‘entrepreneurially’

Haadi: How are you impacting your society?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: In my own little way I have created 6 direct jobs on our farm of 4500 chickens, indirectly I have provided opportunities to individuals who retail our products to the general public. I am looking forward to impacting more and touching the lives of more people with what I do.

Haadi: That’s impressive! Please is ABA Fuseini your MP?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Yes please.

Haadi: Are you learning Proverbs to continue his ‘proverbs legacy’ in parliament some day? I mean any intention of representing your people in the legislature some day?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Hahahaa. Currently I’m not engaged in active politics but who knows. Let’s leave that posterity.

Haadi: What does the next 5 years look like for you?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: In the next 5 years I will like to be more than Kwabena Darko, the renowned poultry farmer. I will like to be in the forefront of poultry production, feeding the whole of the north and the country as a whole. As an entrepreneur, I keep thinking of ways to improve upon what I do in order to satisfy my customers, this is what keeps me awake at night.

Haadi: Before you go, what do you make of THE READERS HUB page and what recommendation will you make for improvement?

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: It is a great platform that inspires a lot, kudos to you and the other administrators who created this.

Recommendation: I think you should bring more people to share their stores, you never know who could get a transformation in his life from those stories. Besides, I don’t know how we could work on this, it looks like the page is loaded with a lot of content, relevant though but we often missed out when one is too busy and open your Whatsapp later to find a lot of stuffs.

Haadi: Thank you. Concerns noted. It has been an intriguing session with you Mr. Yahaya Abdulai. However, we have spent so much time with you and we are grateful for the inspiration and the life-changing experience you shared with us. With you and many others, we are safe and know we have tomorrow’s leaders to count on

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: I appreciate the opportunity so much, thank you.

Haadi: Your closing remarks please.

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: I just want to thank everyone who followed the discussion from 8pm till now. Your comments and suggestions are welcome to make this better when given another opportunity to be here.

Haadi: We are honoured to have you tonight and we hope to engage you again on some other topical discussions soon.

Mr. Yahaya Abdulai: Thank you very much and may God be with you all.

Haadi: READERS, we have come to the end of tonight’s Social Convo with our hidden talent discovered. Until we come to you with another edition of Social Convo, I wish you all a sound sleep and a fruitful weekend…………………… (Exeunt)

                                ! THE END!

NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit.

                   Hub Editor: Bassing. A.M.A. Kamal.