This week we have the pleasure of interviewing a young woman, who is doing incredibly well in the lives of so many children, while she continues to change the narrative of women can’t do it all. She is no less a person but our very own Kaata Minah, owner of JNAP Ventures, a strong feminist and a champion for gender equality…she said, of course, women can do it and they do it better. Sit, relax, enjoy and be inspired as you read along. For inquiries about all her programs please contact her on +23230218336 or the following social media handles; JNAP Ventures @facebook, twitter and on Instagram
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: Please tell readers about yourself
Katta Minah: I am Kaata Minah, a graduate of Fourah Bay College. I have a degree BA (Hons) in political science. I am a wife and a mother to an incredible four-year-old daughter.
Dasalonetiti_Rahyma: You study political science why entrepreneurship and why kids in particular?
Kaata Minah: So JNAP Ventures started about three years ago and we started with our holiday activities. Basically, JNAP ventures we are engaged in providing extracurricular activities for children. We are also into party planning and coordination. JNAP Ventures was born because I believe there are so many things kids can do beyond their conventional academic course of study. I noticed most kids only have their heads in their school books and most often because there are limited activities in Sierra Leone that kids could be engaged in; things they have an interest in or are passionate about which they could possibly do in the future. For me, I wanted my child to have all of that so she could be well-grounded in different areas including academics. Yeah, so that’s how JNAP came about. We started initially with just the holiday activities that we do every year when schools are closed. We do different activities from cooking, sewing, karate, dancing, swimming, excursions; for them to see historical sites and relics, keep them occupy and to also ensure they learn something from the experience.
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: How is it for you as a wife, mother, nine to five employee and a business owner?
Kaata Minah: Well running JNAP has not been easy. My husband and my sister had been my backbones in running the business. I handle the finance and administrative aspect of the business through them and we make decisions together. They are basically the brains behind everything. I have also managed to put together an incredible team. I have had the same people as staff for the past two years or thereabout. Some had been with me from the very start, they’ve given me all the support I could need. When we started, there were three caregivers; Agnes, Veronica, and Aminata they started the whole holiday activities. It’s just this year they’ve all gotten full employment someplace else, and they cannot be part of us. They had been very good with us and had helped structured our programs. Currently, I have Edwarda, who has been with me for a year, she has been amazing. She basically helped me run everything since I have a full time nine to five job.
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: How do you scale through? We all know to joggle all this, is not an easy thing.
Kaata Minah: As a wife, a mother, a full-time employee, and a purposeful businesswoman, I would like to say it has been very challenging and had also been fun. The support I have or my support system has been incredible. It just makes it a whole lot easier for me. I have my Parents that are wonderful and help a lot with our daughter. My husband also understands that I am doing the things I love to do, so he supports me anyway he could. My awesome sister has also been good and one of my strongest support system. I think the support system for me, is the reason why I am able to do all the things I’m doing. The support system makes it very easy for me to do what I want to do.
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: What has been your biggest achievements?
Kaata Minah: I would say my biggest achievement so far has been establishing my business. It has not been easy for the past three years; trying to get a clientele base, to create awareness about our business, and literally trying to get parents to know the importance of these extra-curricula activities. Now I can gladly say we have like a fair exposure in terms of the business. We have been doing the holiday activities for the past three years and I can proudly say the client we have now, know us for this and now they call to ask about all our programs. There are some clients who had been with us for the past three years, each year they send their children to be part of our holiday activities for which we are grateful. We started our games festival last year and we will be having it for the second time this year, as parents are excited and are asking we do it twice in a year. But I always tell them, we are taking it slowly, getting to know our markets, our strengths, and weaknesses and to further work on our weaknesses. We’ve managed to build a strong relationship of trust amongst our client base on the fact that, when it comes to their kid’s, their wellbeing is our utmost priority. For party events, it is not just about decorations for us. We plan with the parents, help them source things, we help them get vendors for different things that we cannot provide. So we basically taking the stress off our clients by doing everything for them whilst they get to relax, free their minds and enjoy the rest of the event. The party planning is another aspect, that people are mostly reaching out for nowadays. In all this, so far, I will say my biggest achievement would be establishing JNAP Ventures.
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: Tell readers about some of your challenges.
Kaata Minah: I would say some of the challenges had been the constant increase in prices of things. Things are really expensive and some of the things we use such as party supplies and essentials are not even in the country so that means we have to outsource them. For us, our business is for the middle-class Sierra Leoneans. So, we are very considerate in pricing and charging our client bearing in mind the economic status of our clientele. As we all know the status of the economy right now is not pleasing and the fact that prices of things are constantly on the rise is very alarming. Our biggest challenge had been finding that balance between being reasonable and actually making a profit. Apart from making a profit, another challenge has been the process of delivering quality and giving our customers value for their money. This means going for quality items; that means buying things with prices a little bit on the high side, which further means a price increase for your customers. So, finding a balance in all this has been challenging.
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: Your advice to other women who think women can’t do it all.
Kaata Minah: My advice to other women with the thought or idea that a woman cannot do it all. I think that statement in itself is flawed and they need to get out of their heads. I think every human once you are determined to do something you will be able to do it. You just have to be passionate about it and pursue your dreams and just know there is no success without hard work. Whether you are a man or a woman you have to push, you have to work hard and you have to continue pushing to achieve what you want. I believe we all could do it.
Dasalonetiti-Rahyma: Your general advice to the youth of this our beloved Nation Sierra Leone.
Kaata Minah: My advice to the youth of Sierra Leone generally would be; first of all you have to be determined to do the things you love to do. You also have to realize that in achieving certain things you have to think out of the box. Don’t just confine yourself and your thoughts to the traditional ideas or what people think. So, for instance, if you want to start a business, you need money to start such business, right? So hold on to your nine to five and save towards your goal. Don’t leave your job, because if you do, how would you raise money to start your business? As we all know financial institutions don’t favor startups in this country. I also want them to know that they should have their priorities in order. It’s okay to have fun! it’s okay to work hard you know. Just get a balance and get your priorities straight in life.
So here, you have it, readers. I hope we have been inspired by this strong hardworking woman. We all can do it irrespective of our gender. If Salone should go forward then we as citizens have to wake up and take the wheels of the economy and the country. It all starts with our mindset and thought process. Peace out ✌ and long live Mama Salone
©By Rahima Vandy-Kargbo