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Inspire Salone Series: She Creates

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By Eunice Naffie Mustapha

Thinking about it is just one step! Bringing it to life is where the real magic happens, and Naasu Fofanah is known for waving the wand that makes magic happen! Embarking on a creation journey takes a lot of willpower, and Inspire Salone is here to share the inspiration!

The Empire 

An empire is made up of kingdoms; you got that right! Susue’s Empire can be divided into Susue’s Consulting and Susue Women’s Finance. Susue’s Consulting is divided into Susue’s Coconut Chilli Oil, Leave it to Naasu, Susue’s Kontri Klos, and Susue’s Lifestyle Kekeh.

Throwback 

As a little girl, Naasu Fofanah knew she wanted to be independent. For her, independence meant taking charge of every area of her life, including her financial life. She had watched her mom put her self-esteem aside among family members to get financial help from them to cater to the needs of her kids, which young Naasu hated.

What was so contradictorily interesting was how her grandmothers, Grandma Naasu and Grandma Haja Fatmata, had so much power in their homes because they had created sources of income for themselves, owning farms and businesses, which young Naasu found intriguing.

Looking at the women in her life, she knew at that tender age that she had to create things of her own to wield total control over her life. This desire even cost her her marriage, as at age 31, she decided it was time to get a degree, but her ex-husband did not support her aspirations. She knew she needed that degree to back up her creation journey and chose to be unstoppable!

An empire she was determined to create!

Susue’s Coconut Chilli Oil

Susue’s Coconut Chilli Oil started with a visit to Rwanda when she fell in love with Rwanda’s Akabanga Hot Chili Oil. After tasting that oil, she only thought about how to create her version of it. She loved Coconut Oil, so she knew exactly what version she wanted. However, thinking about it seemed easier than getting it done. She tried a lot of times and failed miserably. She even got help from a Malaysian and Greek chef but still couldn’t get it right. Did she give up? No! She knew what she wanted; the magic wand had to work. All she needed was the right magic dust! Luckily for her, Naasu received 5 gallons of coconut oil from late Paramount Chief Melrose Forster Gberie. That was when she made a promise that before she finished the 5 gallons, she would get her Susue’s Coconut Chilli Oil right. And boom, on the 2nd day of April in the dearest year of our Lord 2020, she created her dream oil!

After getting her friends, Fatmata B. Jalloh and Sinkarie Robin-Coker, to try it out, it was time to test the market. A small start it was, as she had to use affordable packaging, but it didn’t matter, as she had started. One year later, Susue’s Coconut Chilli Oil was rebranded with high-quality packaging, and it is now being used in many hotels/restaurants and can be found in supermarkets! Earning from her creation, is she?

Leave it to Naasu 

Coconut oil was not the only good thing that happened last year. Naasu Fofanah also launched her book, ‘Leave it to Naasu,’ marking the start of a series of books. Being a born storyteller, she always had stories to tell about her experiences in Sierra Leone and overseas. People would beg her to publish a book. She definitely listened, creating a relatable world! Leave it to Naasu is about bringing out relatable stories that could influence the next generation.

“You have to be authentic. You have to give young people hope. Their circumstances cannot define young women.”-Naasu Fofanah. To her, her book is about creating hope that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel and that it is not okay to give up on oneself.

Susue’s Kontri Klos 

During her interview, she took us back to Grandma Naasu’s farm. Young Naasu fell in love with how kontri klos was made as she witnessed the process. Her grandma grew cotton, which she later used to make kontri klos.

“Kontri klos is one of the things that define us as Sierra Leoneans.”-Naasu Fofanah.

She believes in giving life to that identity by creating an entire brand of it. “The same way we go out and buy expensive things from other countries is the same way we can also sell our local products for other countries to buy.”-Naasu Fofanah. Susue’s Kontri Klos is fit for every purpose, as it can be used to decorate one’s house, vehicle, office space, or business center, and it can also be transformed into magical outfits to rock. Creating this brand was all about promoting the embracing of our identity. She creates on!

Susue’s Lifestyle Kekeh 

One thing we love about her is how she uses experiences to create brands. For Susue’s Lifestyle Kekeh, it all started with a visit from Fantacee Wiz, who is a renowned Sierra Leonean musician. Naasu Fofanah admired Fantacee’s ride as she rode in a Kekeh. It clicked after trying it out and falling in love with the experience! ‘How about starting a Kehkeh business to make movement easier for many people, but with a different style?’

Susue’s Lifestyle Kehkeh is not the usual type of Kehkeh, as she branded it with free internet access and Kontri Klos décor. She also invested in training riders to be professional in dealing with clients, not to talk about getting the riders’ uniforms and positioning them at strategic locations. A ride in a Kehkeh gives you access to so much fresh air, and Naasu Fofanah was determined to change the perspective that Kehkeh was for low-class people when she started Susue’s Lifestyle Kekeh. In her world, there’s nothing like ‘low class.’ Another creative story!

Susue Women’s Finance

Smart as she is, she thought about creating easy access to finance for women. For Naasu Fofanah, it’s not just about preaching that women will win but creating opportunities to ensure they win.

Her 100% financial empowerment platform has already partnered with major banking institutions in Sierra Leone. Women will get access to the finances required to build their businesses easily. When she wanted to implement initiatives created, she had to struggle with getting funds, and it is that struggle she wants removed. It’s time for financial inclusion. ‘We have to have our own money to take the seat of power.”- Naasu Fofanah. Well, in this situation, all we can say is, “the seat of power, Naasu Fofanah and her gang of women winners are on their way, beware!” LOL!

Her Failure Story

You might think she keeps creating because she is not losing, but that’s untrue. After returning to Sierra Leone from the United Kingdom with her JC ‘kopor,’ Naasu Fofanah decided to invest in a stylish saloon, ‘Jenna Hair Studios.’ Her beauty business failed miserably, leaving her almost broke. She had not planned well; she did not understand her market or the business atmosphere in Sierra Leone. That horrible loss taught her to plan well. So now, before embarking on anything, she uses at least 1 year to plan. Naasu is never in a rush! As they say, ‘She who fails to plan, plans to fail,’ and ‘Sometimes we win, but sometimes we learn.’ A bitter lesson built her for her now. What have you been doing with the lessons you’ve been learning?

Her Message to Young Sierra Leoneans

“Don’t be in so much haste. Don’t fast forward your death certificate by wanting to do so many things. Your greatest competition is yourself. Always ensure you become a better version of yourself. I went to university at the age of 31! You don’t have to do things because the other person is doing it. You have to find what you want to do. If you do, invest time in building. You should make yourself happy. Work hard, and have your own money. Success remains an emotional and financial investment. Learn to be true to yourself and build on your passions. Challenges are growth poles; build on yourself to reach your potential.”-Naasu Fofanah

In life, you can choose to do whatever you want. Naasu Fofanah chose to create. What do you choose?

ABOUT WRITER

Eunice Naffie Mustapha is a creative writer and a storyteller. She is a published author ( the author of Girlz Planete: Teenage Pregnancy). As the CEO of Nafisa Media Limited, she believes in using stories to inspire social change. She is a Sierra Leonean content writer renowned for submitting content to individuals and entities locally and internationally.

Photo Credit: Moseray Koroma ( Super Mos Photography): +23278145373/ +23288914840.

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