As more Ghanaians get fixated with healthy lifestyle in recent times, one of Ghana’s leading fast food chains, Marwako Fast Food Limited in December 2019 introduced a new subsidiary to cater for clients interested in fresh fruits, which is known to reduce a person's risk of developing heart disease, cancer, inflammation and diabetes.
Fruits are an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, high in fiber and also provide a wide range of health-boosting antioxidants, including flavonoids. Around the world, medical practitioners always prescribe a diet high in fruits and vegetables knowing its importance to the human being.
Over the weekend, I caught up with Kojo Talha Chaaban, the Founder and Operations Manager of Marwako Naturals at the Abelenkpe branch of Marwako Fast Food Limited to discuss healthy lifestyle trends amongst Ghanaians as well as the motivation for his entrepreneurial drive.
Marwako Naturals is about providing a variety of fresh undiluted juice without any preservative as well as cut-fruits. The fruits are cut right in the presence of the customer and the juice is prepared immediately under very hygienic conditions.
Kojo Talha Chaaban is a Lebanese Ghanaian brought up in Ghana and lived all his life in Ghana. He had his elementary and high school education in Ghana before traveling to Lebanon for his university education. After his tertiary education, he returned to Ghana to work with his family business, Marwako Fast Food Limited.
“I grew up in Ghana seeing my dad build Marwako Fast Food Limited and venturing into other businesses. This has always motivated me to make the most out of my life and make a meaningful contribution to the business. As a young person, it is important to explore new and creative ways of growing the business. This led to the concept of Marwako Naturals after a brainstorming session with my very good friend Zein Ibrahim”, Kojo Talha revealed.
To achieve this dream, the two young men started to build their first fruit bar with funds they had raised themselves. They supervised the construction of the fruit bar and got involved throughout the process to ensure the carpenter built exactly what they wanted. After the carpenter had finished his work, they commenced the branding of the bar to enable them start their operations.
"I spoke to my dad to give us a space at the Abelenkpe branch of Marwako to start operating the first fruit bar. He gladly accepted the idea and allowed us to set up the fruit bar. From the first day, we started receiving positive feedback and encouragement from several customers who we approached to market out drinks and services. Most of them spoke about how it could grow if properly managed and encouraged us to look at the bigger picture”,Kojo Talha added.
On how he sought to make the brand stand out, Kojo Talha said “I decided to primarily promote the health benefits of fruits to people that consumes them, from children to adults. Also, I wanted to create awareness about the daily minimum requirement of fruits and nutrients required in a person’s diet more especially when most of the foods we consume lately are becoming genetically modified. That is a unique selling proposition for us”.
According to Talha, who is also a budding musician, it is the vision of his team to have Marwako Naturals setup fruit bars in all branches of Marwako Fast Food Limited as well as its affiliated entity, Aboude Fast Food with two branches in Kumasi.
On the sustainability of the business, Talha stated that people will always eat fruits to be healthy so it will always be in demand. He further indicated that “we all know that eating more vegetables is a good thing. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, diets rich in foods containing fiber, such as many vegetables and fruits, may reduce therisk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. In fact, most of us could cut back on the proteins and fat in our diets, and eat far more vegetables and fruit than we currently do”.
And in the next five years, the company should have a fruit bar along every busy street in Accra and Kumasi is his short term vision.