Changing gender roles: Meet ‘Papa Tilapia’ the gentleman ‘competing’ with women in fresh fish business
● Rapheal dress a tilapia
While women are being encouraged to take up responsibilities or professions considered the preserve of men, some men also seem to be making a statement by venturing into businesses which ordinarily would have been tagged as a woman’s job.
Examining how men and women are swapping roles, this reporter caught up with a budding male entrepreneur at Dansoman in Accra who has taken up the sale of fresh tilapia and continues to match women in the business boot-for boot.
28-year-old Raphael Nanevi Nanavaiaa hails from Ada Foah in the Greater Accra Region and is known in his business circles as “Papa Tilapia.”
He used to help and run errands for his mother who traded at Darkuman-Kokompe market while he was still a student at Ada Senior High Technical School.
After studying Business and completing in 2019, he and his elder sister had to cater for the family after their mother’s business was razed down by fire.
Rapheal and his sister took up the challenge to revive their mother’s business. After an intensive house-to-house advertisement, he decided to run his business at Dansoman.
The journey in the last four years, according to him, had been rewarding yet rugged as he continued to receive both encouraging and disparaging comments from some members of the public.
He said some people considered his consistency and dedication to the business remarkable while others thought he was “wasting his time.”
“A man approached me and told me to use my stature for something better, and that a man like me should not be selling fish. He proposed other businesses which I did not pay attention to.
“Other business owners within the enclave where I operate have tried to sabotage me by asking the area taskforce to kick me out, but I have always handled the situation with tact and humility,” he noted.
He maintained that his calm disposition and prompt delivery continued to attract more customers to the business located at Dansoman-Asoredanho.
Apparently, the idea of selling fish did not sit well with his mother who wanted him to rather take up a white-colar job. However, he said, some of his relatives have come to terms with what he currently does to earn a living.
According to Papa Tilapia, sales in 2022 and the early part of this year, has been favourable despite the current economic challenges.
“The demand for food commodities continues to increase. Though customers complain of hike in prices, my prices are relatively lower compared with prices elsewhere.
“I communicate and relate well with my customers so my stand has become the choice for many tilapia lovers in my area.
In spite of the hurdles, Raphael is hopeful that his hustle would produce greater result in future.
“Drivers and other pedestrians encourage me to keep up the spirit and I know with determination and sacrifice, it is possible to derive the best out of this business.
“I know my strength is in business and marketing because I am able to convince customers to patronise my service. This skill of mine has earned me a lot,” he added.
Raphael used to sell sim cards before delving into the tilapia business. He admitted that his “aggressive” marketing strategy sometimes irritated customers but he had to adopt that approach especially when sales were low.
“I would call any driver or pedestrian to alert them I had fresh stock. I remember annoying a woman because I had ‘pestered’ her several times on one of my busy days.”
Papa Tilapia looks at becoming a well-establlished entrepreneur and a farmer in the future. He believes that Ghana has arable lands when utilised judiciously, can help reduce unemployment.
He said with the needed support, he would expand the business and employ people to deliver fresh tilapia to clients at restaurants, offices and hotels.
He advised the youth not to wait for favours but strive harder for their needs, adding that it was important for them to first discover their potentials.
“If you are waiting for someone to give you money, that person is also waiting for gift from someone. If we push harder, others would help,” he said.
By Yunusah Essandoh