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Ernest Antwi suits up to hawk pure water to fund education

Ernest Antwi suits up to hawk pure water to fund education

With the brand name, Bɛɛma Nsuooh, Ernest Antwi, a tertiary student, works hard to fund his education by hawking sachet water. 

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Despite the hot weather and intense traffic in Accra, he does this, clad in full suit, holding an executive bag and a serving tray.

According to him, the first and second days he wore a suit to sell, he sold 10 and 18 bags respectively compared to the two to three bags he usually sold. 

Bɛɛma Nsuooh, a Twi phrase, means “A man’s water”.

Ernest combines academics with hawking 

Ernest combines academics with hawking 

In a chat with The Mirror last week, he gave credit to his ex-girlfriend, whose name he would only give as Esther for encouraging him seven years ago to start selling pure water.

He said he has however officially been wearing suits to sell about two years now.

“Esther knelt down, anointed my head with oil, prayed for me and said; ‘you will be a great person one day”, he recounted.

Ernest Antwi (middle) with his siblings, Victoria Yamboa (right) and Beatrice Botwe

Ernest Antwi (middle) with his siblings, Victoria Yamboa (right) and Beatrice Botwe

Armed with determination, a basin filled with water, and a warm smile, Bɛɛma Nsuooh’s simple branding approach has helped him sail through at the Accra Technical University (ATU) where he is pursuing a Higher National Diploma in Building Technology (B-Tech).

His entrepreneurial spirit has also pushed him to travel to four different regions within the country to hawk his water.  

The final year student was sighted at popular events such as the recent Guinness World Record breaking attempt, dubbed, ‘Sing-a-thon’ by Afua Asantewaa Aduonum.

“At that event, I sold 35 bags of sachet water in 12 hours, from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m.”, he said.

His brand's slogan, "Wo to aa na ya seerviw" (meaning "We serve you when you buy"), reflects his commitment to customer satisfaction. 

Through his hustle, Ernest has met some celebrities including, actor, John Dumelo (right)

Through his hustle, Ernest has met some celebrities including, actor, John Dumelo (right)

Background
According to Antwi, he is an orphan born and bred in Agona Nsaba in the Central Region to the late Abena Nyakoah and Kwabena Yamboa.

With his parents absent, Antwi who is the first born, said he and his sister Victoria Yamboa grew up with their grandmother, Mrs Paulina Duodo.

“I attended the Nsaba Presbyterian Junior High School then later to the Nyakrom Senior-Technical School (NYASTECH) in Agona Nyakrom where I studied B-Tech, inspired by my father”, he added.

He said he later moved in with his uncle, Prince Osei, who was a trotro driver when he got to his final year at NYASTECH. 

The 25-year-old added that due to financial constraints, he and his uncle often had to sleep in the trotro and he also had to work as the mate once in a while. 

“After graduating from NYASTECH with an aggregate 17, I wanted to apply to ATU but I had no money so I had to wait for an opportunity”, he added.

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The journey
Ernest’s journey started at the age of 17 while he was in his second year at NYASTECH.

 “I started with A1 Bread which I sold around Kasoa, Central Region, then later worked as Fante and Ghana Our Motherland courses teacher at the Open Heaven Vidence International School”, he said.

He added that his girlfriend at the time, who was also an A1 bread seller, was however doing better than him since she had other businesses.  

“She did so well by supporting me and occasionally housing me. Whenever I was with her, every midnight she would wake me up so we pray,” he recounted. 

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Ernest attends to his customers with a serving tray

Ernest attends to his customers with a serving tray

Admission into ATU
Talking about how he gained admission to ATU, he said although he initially received a scholarship to study Civil Engineering, the support stopped shortly after he began the course. 

“Because I could not fund my fees nor feed myself, I had to quit. My uncle was also not doing well. It was then that my girlfriend suggested selling pure water which I embraced.

He added that with support from well-wishers, he later re-applied to ATU to now study B-Tech which he juggles with his hustle.

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“I struggled with accommodation and sometimes had to sleep on the compound of the Accra Central Police Station, on random pavements, or with friends at the hostel”.

Ernest started hawking pure water at the age of 17

Ernest started hawking pure water at the age of 17

Why suits? 
Antwi, who seems to embody the phrase: ‘set yourself apart from the rest’, said his love for executive suits led him to decide to go hawking in it after a lecture.

“I wear suits to lectures often and one day, a tiny voice spoke to me: ‘why don’t you go and sell in your suit’, the rest is history”, he remarked.

Bɛɛma Nsuooh said his way of dressing had attracted significant support to him, both locally and internationally, in the form of kind and cash-- from laptops, study materials to phones and school fees. 

To him, each sachet of water now symbolises a step closer to his dreams of making his grandmother and uncle proud.

During vacations, Antwi travels to the Ashanti, Central, Eastern and Western Regions to sell. The owner of Bɛɛma Nsuooh said he is now able to save GH₵ 300 in profits monthly with Prudential Bank Ghana. This mostly goes into his feeding.

Mr Antwi (right) with his other hawkers 

Mr Antwi (right) with his other hawkers 

Future goals
The entrepreneur shared his dreams of owning a pure water manufacturing company and hopes to be a brand ambassador for a manufacturer and to own a construction company under the brand name; Beema Nsuooh Construction. 

He also wishes to pursue a degree, masters and PhD at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology or ATU.

 Writer’s email: [email protected]

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