I know fountains and I have always seen them. Most of them are beautiful pieces of architecture located in front of buildings; at roundabouts of some major roads in town, among other places. But I was amazed to hear, for the first time, that fountains could be made for indoor places like the living room, bedroom, offices, and the like. As curios as I was, I asked to see the how they are made, which brought me into contact with an amazingly creative young Ghanaian – John Mensah, a graduate of KNUST. Find out how he does it as he narrates his story to the B&FT.
John Mensah, a young man in his 20s and the CEO of Mensah Fountains, holds a degree in Rural Arts and Industry, with specialisation in leather and clay. He had a passion for radio, so, after university, he worked with a radio station in Kumasi for his national service. He was part of the station’s morning show team and also doubled as a presenter.
He excelled in radio and won some awards. He was adjudged the Student Media Personality of the Year in 2014; and won the Promising Alumnus in Media in 2016. However, after four years of being in the media, he decided to quit to chase a dream he had entertained for a long time.
The table fountains
When John was in the final year at the university, he worked on a project with some of his colleagues in school to study the therapeutic effects of fountains. In fact, had it not been this interview, I personally didn’t know fountains are not only used to beautify the environment but can also be used for therapeutic purposes.
Studies show that soothing sound from water fountains has the ability to provide stress relief and relaxation of the mind.
So, John and his friends, after their study confirmed the therapeutic effects of fountains, decided to come up with a type that could be used indoors.
“We realised that the fountains are very expensive to construct. So, we thought about how we could create one that will be affordable to a lot of people and can be used in the sitting rooms and offices to release stress.”
Another reason, John says, that inspired him to chase the fountain dream was to change the negative growing perception that studying arts in school can’t provide one a job.
“There are some of my colleagues who feel arts cannot provide them a job, and so when they leave the university, they divert into other professions, such as banking, that are totally unrelated to their programme. So, I decided to set an example for my juniors to follow.”
John therefore decided to move into this craft full-time. By the time he was ready to start this project, two of his friends had already travelled abroad. Two others had moved into shoe and leather production. So, he was left alone with another colleague called Rebecca Denteh, who is now in charge of marketing, to push his dreams to reality.
How the fountains are made
John starts the whole process by sketching the design of how the fountain should look like and takes it to ceramic artists to mould. After moulding to the preferred shape, it is baked and later coated to make it water-proof. Pipes and a pump are connected to it. Then it goes through finishing and packaging.
Mensah Fountains’ products are unique, in that, they are the first of their kind to be produced locally. Even though there are other ones introduced onto the market from foreign countries, their quality can’t match those produced by Mensah Fountains.
“Our products are lifetime products. The other ones I have seen on the market are made of inferior materials, such as plastics and the like. And when the pump spoils, they can’t be used anymore. But with ours, when the pump becomes dysfunctional, it can be replaced. And because our products are made of clay, they can always look and serve as a nice vase even if the pump becomes dysfunctional. This cannot be said of the ones imported into the country. Once the pump spoils, the fountain must be thrown away because it can’t serve any purpose.”
How the fountains have been received on the market
Mensah’s fountains have now become a preferred gift item by the elite in society. Some banks now buy them as gifts for their top clients on their birthdays. Through that, other people have shown interest and are placing orders.
Now, he has the capacity to produce 100 pieces of the fountains every month.
It has not been easy for John to get his business running. Doing business in Ghana is not easy, he says. Since it is a relatively new business, patronage is not always impressive.
“It is a new business and people are now becoming aware of it, and so, it is not easy reaching new customers. Most people who buy our products are those among the elite class and so the market is not that wide.”
How education has helped
“Education helps you to think deeper as a person. My education has helped me to read wide and think outside the box and apply the knowledge to my business in order to set it apart from others.”
“We want to be able to have our products in every office in the country in the next two years. But in ten years to come, we want to have them in other African countries and the western world.”
How government can support
John believes the best help government can give to the industry is not solely financial but market linkages. Government, he says, must create a platform for us to showcase our products to the world.
Advice to the youth
“I will encourage those who have skills not to sit down and wait for jobs from other people. With a little money, you can start something and you will succeed.”credit:thebtonline