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How Rodney Oheneba Ahenkan started The Man Cave after being thrown out of his church and contemplating suicide

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He contemplated suicide after a failed and embarrassing relationship, but after getting sacked from the church, where one is supposed to seek refuge, it sparked a burning desire in him to do more with his life.

The CEO of The Man Cave shares his harrowing journey to his motherland to explore the opportunities available for him, following a prophecy by renowned singer and minister, Sonnie Badu.

In this episode of Q&A with William, Rodney Oheneba Ahenkan takes us on his journey back to Africa and the establishment of his fleet of businesses and grooming hub, The Man Cave Gh.

Q.First of all, tell me about yourself and how your business started?

I go by the name Rodney Oheneba Ahenkan. I’m popularly known as Pappy from my other business which is, forex education. I was born and raised in Australia by Ghanaian parents which makes me a full Ghanaian. I made a decision to come back home 2 years ago to start something because I didn’t see myself working my next 30 to 50 years in the Australian system.

Q.Why?

…because the dream that is projected is that you go to school, take up a loan to go to university, you get a good job and for the next 40 years you pay off that loan, and that was projected as the Australian or American dream. So, I said to myself that it doesn’t make sense to me to work for such a system. And I never believed in the rat race, I believe in being an entrepreneur. So I decided to try and get to know my roots in Ghana. I booked a one-way ticket and moved to South Africa. After teaching in South Africa, Nigeria, America, Zimbabwe, and Ghana as a forex educator, I realized that there was no need to go back to Australia

Q: Your coming here was prophesied, tell us about it?

In 2016, I was about to commit suicide. I was getting married to my then childhood sweetheart who had a child from her previous relationship. I had adopted the child to be my stepson and at the end of the day after borrowing so much money from me, she said to me “I just used you for your money because I know you love me”  It was embarrassing for me because I was a public figure… People knew me as, Disciple.

And apart from preaching around the country, I had my music topping charts as an urban gospel singer In and out of Australia. She told me, “despite all these things that you’re doing, you are not getting anywhere. I don’t see my self with you”. And this happened publicly after I had gone down on my knee to propose. This was at the time when the man of God I was serving under, had told everybody that I was possessed; so everybody should disassociate themselves from me. So I was kicked out of the church.

There was a time that I drove Pastor Sonnie Badu on one of his visits to Australia.  My ‘papa’ once made me perform my song at that revival. On the final day, Pastor Sonnie Badu, who had heard of what had  happened to me, under the influence of the holy spirit called me to the front and made a pronouncement on my life. He said, “Africa is calling you for a big task and it is going to begin with the opening of the door in South Africa”.

This was in January 2016. He said even though he doesn’t know how, I would help people to become financially liberated, particularly in economics, and how to manage their own businesses. That was how I came back to Africa and Ghana to be precise.

Q: Why did you try to kill yourself? Didn’t you have anyone you could confide in?

A: I never told anybody, I did the walk of shame back to my mother’s house. I was in my bedroom and no one entered my bedroom so if I had killed myself no one would have known.

Q: How were you going about it?     

A: I thought the easiest way would be a concoction of medications and alcohol. That seemed much easier than drowning, which comes with a lot of suffering. At some point, I heard voices in my head saying “there is a train line, jump”. I was dealing with a lot. I was driving in the car and all I could hear was, “just slide to the other side it will be easy”.

It was all baffling but then I was thinking about financial independence; what more money can do. So said, let me try this and if it doesn’t work, God I’m coming back home! So I started teaching myself and learning a lot of stuff. I had a lot of ups and downs but I stood through to it all.

Q.So Why the name Man Cave?

A: The man cave where I am from in America, is a place men get together to find confinement. A place where we will feel safe and not be vulnerable anymore because In the outside world, as a man you’re told you can’t cry. You can’t be emotional, you can’t talk about your feelings. The world in itself is unfair towards men. As a young boy in school, you need to take a course that Mummy and Daddy can go round and tell their friends about and say things like “my son is going to be a doctor, lawyer, or accountant”. You go to church and you’re told not to date, and all of a sudden, these same people come asking you when you’re going to marry?

Q: Why The Man Cave then?

A: Man cave is a place where men can come and get advice or have a shoulder to cry on and also a direction of where they can go to better themselves. Based on my research, at least 75 percent of men in Ghana or Africa do not groom themselves properly. Most men do not pomade after they shower therefore paying the least attention to the temple God gave them. So providing a product is a small thing compared to the big picture of making them the men they ought to be. The Men Cave is not just a shop for products and services; it is teaching men what we should have been taught when we were children.

Q: How much did you need to start the business and how did you come by this capital?

A: The first night I stayed in Ghana, I slept on the street. It wasn’t an easy thing for me but all I had was money from my forex business. You don’t need capital to start, I think this is the misinterpretation of business, you need the commitment to start. I didn’t have labels when I started. I didn’t have good packaging but I had a product and if I could get enough patronage, I could use that to boost what I already had. It wasn’t more than Ghc:5,000.

Q: Do you make these products yourself?

A: The perfume is formulated by us but we import the ingredients. It is made and bottled here. We get our pure oils from Dubai.

Q: Looking at your line of business, what challenges does it come with?

A: The most unconventional challenge that I always mention but people don’t like me saying is, friends and family. I don’t understand why, when people are close to you, they feel entitled to get your products at a cheaper price. If you love me and want to support me, buy the product at the same price as everybody else. I have lost a lot of people who are like family for this simple reason.

Q: Looking at all you’ve been through, how has that shaped the man you are today?

A: Pain can either be used as a motivator or a deterrent. If you are the type that is like, “feel sorry for me” then you’re going to stay there and never progress in life. I had to take a decision whether I would let what people say about me dictate who I am, or I would now establish a standard for myself?

Q: What has been the biggest factor that has led you to this point?

A: Errm, never forgetting who God is. I’ve always been told that you never tie your beliefs to your workplace but I do the complete opposite. I might not look or act or reason like a traditional Christian, but there is something about God that’s just like, wow! Also, never settling or resting at the level that you are.

Q: What would take you to say you’re successful?

A: I don’t know because everyone’s definition is different… But for a lot of people looking at me, they will think I am, but to me, I’m not. Maybe when I marry, that’s when I’ll say I’ve done something that no one thought I could ever achieve.

Q: As a young entrepreneur, what mistakes would you say you’ve made along the line?

A: Being too open and trusting too easily. That was the painful lesson that I learned in my financial education company. I have learned not to trust too easily. It doesn’t mean I don’t trust, but you have to get to a certain level before I let you into my circle. Also, I’ll never again listen to advice from a person at my level, it should be someone above my level. You can get feedback from people who are at or below your level, but you cannot take advice from people who are at your own level.

Q: What would you say has been the hardest decision you’ve ever had to make in order to make your business what it is?

A: Committing to my prices. Always having to stand by my ground has been that challenge but also a blessing in disguise as well because it is now cutting out a niche of the man cave and that is; if you want to be a man, there’s a price you have to pay.

Q: How do you advertise your business?   

A: Instagram, does the trick, and also word of mouth. Also, every customer that buys from us gets an incentive that will be 10% off your next order, 20% off your next order, etc. So there’s also some incentives for the clients…We go as far as paying people’s Qwick loans and also giving our clients groceries as well.

Q: How do you manage tough clients?

A: We don’t have a refund policy. If you don’t like what you got, we just have to give you a replacement.

Q: Any piece of advice to someone out there who is just starting up?

A: Do it! Don’t wait for your rich uncle, Auntie in the UK to give you capital, just do it. There are opportunities to start without expecting help from anyone.

Q: Do Do opportunities exist in our part of the world?

A: There are always opportunities. Opportunity is the fruit of preparation. Every day there’s a new mall that is being built, new roads are being constructed and businesses are always looking for workers. Why people say there are no opportunities is because they expect the opportunity to walk up to them but it doesn’t work that way.  You need to put yourself out there, you also need to know what you can provide for that particular area that will be an asset to that area. Sometimes all it takes is taking up one or two volunteering opportunities and you may get yourself a job. So yes, opportunities do exist, unless you don’t seek it.  If you seek, you’ll find them.

Interview by: William Lamptey

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