By Miracle Nwankwo
Google’s company announcement reports an increase of + 260 percent globally on the search interest in coronavirus since the first week of February. This shows how concerns about coronavirus have risen over time and across the globe.
After the stay at home policy, social distancing, curfews, government and state-mandated closures, businesses are suffering the hardships of COVID-19. Some companies have now subscribed to opening remote operation of their employees. In all, small businesses are the most hit, and they will need to come up with a quick plan to stand against the fury of Covid-19 on their businesses.
Therefore, business and social media experts are doing a lot and encouraging small business owners to embrace social media like never before.
With rapidly changing market conditions due to COVID-19, there is no doubt about social media being the best means for adverts and marketing this period. The whole world in on social media for a minimum of two hours daily, so how else can you connect and keep your clients and stakeholders abreast, when all shops are closed, and the streets are empty, social media has never been more important than now.
Rachel Laryea, an African woman in the diaspora and founder of Kelewele, shares how her business has been thriving amid COVID19. Rachel also revealed how social media has been her best possible means in a time like this. Although the times are hard, and this Ghanaian businesswoman has suffered some lapses especially in the area of partnership, she is forced to revisit her strategic business plans for the first two quarters of the year, and to seek innovative methods to supplement the lag in business.
This decision was a good one for Rachel, who has been seeing better results in business amid covid19 compare to when then virus newly hit New York.
“It hasn’t all been bad news, however, as we’ve been able to double down on our social media efforts and in return, raise our brand recognition and educate people about our mission and service offerings in light of COVID-19,” Rachel tells Forbes.
Kelewele is a cultural lifestyle brand dedicated to using plantains to recreate various kinds of dish that are appealing to vegan/vegetarians. This food brand is a part of the hospitality industry, and it relies so much on restaurant partnerships. According to Rachel, the brand is doing all it can to ramp up its marketing efforts in order to position itself as a safe, reliable food option to its clients during this covid19 period. They have managed to keep in touch with restaurants that are still in business in order to reach as many audiences as possible on social media.
“Without question, our digital platforms are more important than ever before during this time, as we provide our customer base with real-time updates on our business,” she says.
However, Rachel says that social media has always been an integral part of her business model because of its ability to evoke feelings of togetherness despite physical distance. But there was a need to reinstate this more into the business system. So currently, she diverted her focus on integrating the online tools into the business and utilizing its platforms to create as much person-to-person engagement as possible through videos and live sessions.
A recent success achieved as a result of that strategy was the collaboration with the BET International CultureVibes Home Sessions. Where Rachel was privileged to teach users on BET International’s highly trafficked Instagram platforms how to make chocolate plantain cupcakes in a 20-minute live session, the partnership was a major blast in terms of publicity for Kelewele.
“This partnership, made possible through social media, was a unique way to connect with a large audience, raise awareness of the brand, and most importantly, share some much-needed happiness and joy in such a devastating time.”
Kelewele was birth following Rachel’s earliest memories watching her mother cook her favourite Ghanian dish in their U.S. based home for many years. The word Kelewele is a popular Ghanaian street food comprised of fried plantains coated in ginger, spices and served with ground nuts.
As an undergraduate at New York University (NYU), Rachel sort for ways to save money. Her love for plantains moved her to begin experimenting on different ways to recreate a plantain dish using fruits, and it became her go-to ingredient on numerous nights as she transitioned to a vegan diet.
Discovering how healthy and nutritious Plantains are she tried plantains with many other dishes with friends, family, and colleagues which allowed her to discover the dishes that many liked.
The result of her little survey enticed her into becoming a food entrepreneur, although she had decided to pursue a career on Wall Street after her graduation. While in Wall Street, Rachel could not stop thinking about her food business.
She soon left Wall Street to pursue two PhD degrees in African American Studies and Socio-cultural Anthropology at Yale University. There at Yale, her vision for Kelewele became very clear, and she knew it was time to dive in. Through her anthropological graduate school studies, Rachel realized how special Kelewele was to her given its cultural connection to her Ghanaian heritage; this became her inspiration for launching Kelewele in New York City. Over the year, Rachel’s vision to celebrate both Africa and the diaspora, through unique culturally prepared dishes using plantains is sustained.