As a mother or father, the first six months of your baby’s eating life might be based on solely breast milk or formula depending on your situation. It’s usually a breeze for all with the exception of the mothers due to the toil of breastfeeding, expressing of milk, washing and sterilising of bottles etc. Once that milestone is reached, we get excited. “Yayyyy my baby is a mini-adult now and its time for weaning!” What we fail to realise is that, that period isn’t also an easy journey. For me it’s usually bottled foods on a tiring or lazy day and also self-made purees which I store in the freezer. But I realised it was getting monotonous it was either carrots, potatoes, apples etc so I googled as usual but the challenge is most of these recipes have ingredients that might not be easily obtained on the local market. Cow and Gate was helpful but when a friend discovered Startright it was pure relief!
With my blog focusing on parenthood and other motivational themes plus the realisation that most of the mothers on the whatsapp were curious of the behind the scenes, I thought it would be a good idea to get more information. Chancing on Startright has been very helpful because now my 8 months old enjoys a variety of diets from food to juices. I therefore decided to reach out to Vera (the chef for babies and kids) to know her story and share with all mothers out there. The interesting bit is that the dads are also now interested and requesting to be added to the Whatsapp group.
Enjoy the read!
Q: How did startrightinfantnutrition start? What was the motivation?
“Start Right was started out of pure passion and motivation. The idea was born when I gave birth to my first child Chantel. I told myself I wanted to feed her with foods that boosted cognitive and physical development of kids and are available and affordable in our part of the world (Africa), so I read and researched on world healthiest foods for kids and came across a number. I processed the foods I came across in my own way and came up with a number of organic homemade recipes for kids having about 100 recipes . I then decided to assist mothers who might need to feed their kids right. I then thought I needed to register a company to be able to authenticate my activities thus : ‘Start Right Infant and Child Nutrition Network”(Sricnn) which was registered in August 2016 was born.”
Q: Did you ever envisage it would become this big and have lots of mothers appreciating and relying on you for the nutrition of their kids?
“Yes I did, because it was something new and unique in Africa but didn’t anticipate it would be this big within a space of one year. We have over ,500 followers on our social media page. One thing I believe in, is that in every generation God usually appoints people he wants, to promote a particular cause which is to touch the lives of others so all we have to do is to identify our purpose and God himself will water and blossom it. I think that is what is happening right now to”Start Right Infant and Child Nutrition Network”(Sricnn)”
Q: So who are the brains behind startright?
“I must say I have the best team in startright. They are people who believed in my dream though they had not seen it making much strides yet. I owe thanks to my husband (Seth Otu-Ansah) (Miss Gifty Nkansah) (Mrs.Sheila Akugri) and Mr. and Mrs Bugyei as well as Barbera Obeng and Grace Djan for their immense contributions. The company was actually registered by me(Vera Osei-Bonsu), my husband (Seth Otu-Ansah), Miss Gifty Nkansah and Mr and Mrs. Bugyei who have stepped aside now.”
MEET THE TEAM
I am Vera Osei-Bonsu, Founder of Start Right Infant and Child Nutrition Network(SRICNN) Ghana. I am a mother of two beautiful children(Chantel and Cyrus). I call myself a ‘Mumpreneur‘ who have strong passion for the general well-being of mothers and children.
Holding a Bachelor,s degree in Sociology and Psychology from the University of Ghana.Vera believes there are many ideas and opportunities around us that can be transformed into something tangible. it is my dream that every mother will have a sustainable and healthy way of feeding their children in Ghana and Africa. When this intervention is done very well, I believe the rate of malnutrition in Ghana and Africa will reduce drastically.
I have a sole mission of raising the standards of children’s diets; I have a dream of becoming a regular media commentator on food related issues, and undertake regular consultancy work for major hospitals in Ghana and Africa .
I am Gifty Nkansah, a director of SCRINN responsible for Corporate affairs. I am an entrepreneur and pharmacist with a passion of securing the general well-being of mothers and children. I believe that a healthy person lives in a healthy body. Babies are the foundation of our future thus we have to ensure that they are well fed with nutritious healthy meals to ensure they grow into strong adults. I have a dream of becoming a strong advocate for the wellbeing of children and mothers.
Seth Otu-Ansah (Finance) is a banker who has qualifications in marketing from the Ghana Institute of Management and public Administration (GIMPA). He has a first degree from the University of Cape Coast in Business Commerce.
Seth has over 10 years working experience in banking with Zenith Bank Ghana. He is a father of two and has a special interest in children. His philosophy in life is “one should be an optimist in all things”. Seth Otu-Ansah is a director of Start Right Infant and Child Nutrition Network Ghana.
Sheila (Programs Coordinator) is a mother of 3 beautiful children(Caleb, Yudeisy and Lois).She believes children are the most formidable part of every population and they need to have access to all the basic necessities of life which food plays are crucial role.
Sheila,s dream is to see a drastic reduction in the rate of malnutrition in Africa if not to see an end to it.She hopes to become a strong advocate of children and mothers when it comes to the promotion of Healthy nutrition in Africa.
Q: Tell us more, your vision, mission etc
“We specialize in promoting well-balanced, well-fortified and well-nourished complementary foods for infants and children from the ages of 6 months to 5 years.
Our aim is driven by the fact that most mothers in Ghana and Africa are not able to come out with a comprehensive plan as to how, what and when to feed their babies.”
To assist Caregivers (especially mothers) in Ghana and Africa achieve a sustainable way of World Standard healthy nutrition for their babies and infants.
Our activities are structured in such a way to reach about 50,000 caregivers in Ghana by 2018 with improved nutrition. We focus our efforts on Caregivers especially women, because we know that helping them have sustainable, nutritious diets in their children’s foods is crucial to ending the cycle of malnutrition and poverty. We believe that by building alliances with (GAIN,WHO,UNICEF,GOG,MINISTRY OF HEALTH,GHANA HEALTH SERVICE (GHS) etc that deliver impact at scale, we can eliminate malnutrition within our lifetimes.
At Start Right Infant and child nutrition network we are driven by the passion to see a wholesome, healthy child, developed both in physical and cognitive ability through interventions that promote child health and development.
Q: The big question that intrigues all mothers…You have about two whatsapp groups and a facebook page. Correct me if I missed anything. How do you juggle work, marriage, managing this group. Personally I am unable to even read all the messages so how do you do it?
“Wow interesting question. We also do community advocacy programs to promote healthy child nutrition. As I said earlier Start Right infant and child nutrition network was born out of pure passion. The passion of helping other mothers knowing the stress they go through when weaning their children makes the work easy. I love to see kids looking healthy and happy so its pure joy doing all these. With a great team urging and supporting me I cannot fail them so I have to always keep the wheels of company running. Most of the activities and practical sessions expenses we do are purely borne by my team we do not have any form of financial support. I am looking forward to getting future contracts and supports to promote this initiative in the whole regions of Ghana and Africa.”
I want all women out there to know they are specially made and designed by God. There are many opportunities around them that can be transformed into something tangible so they should always look for a way to transform lives. Any younger and upcoming person should not always look for bigger doors before they can do something they can always start from somewhere and with determination and grace they can do it.”
Q:‘What is a typical week day like for you?’ For myself I have two kids an almost 3 years old and an 8 months old. I wake up between 4 to 5am each day to pack their bags including preparing dinner and getting snacks etc packed for school, then get them ready. Luckily my mum is around and my husband is also supportive. I drop them off then go to work then close between 5:30 to 6, pick them up (it takes between an hour to an hour and half to get home). Once we get home I have to check their bags for teachers notes, replace diapers etc bathe them and the cycle continues. How do you manage?
“For my typical day, I wake up at 4:00am. Get the breakfasts of my 4 year old daughter (Chantel) and my 22 months old son (Cyrus) ready. I always ensure their breakfasts are purely organic and well balanced. Then I drive them to school. By 7:00am they are in school. I then continue to attend to start right activities attending conferences at times and prospecting for investors. I have a busy husband so I have a helping hand who helps me take care of my kids. Start Right is in its initial stage of growth so I dedicate my typical day to ensure its growth aside keeping my family together. My team and I are currently working on a big project to be launched next year by start Right so it also takes a chunk of my time. Mothers should keep watching our space because we are really going to revolutionize the face of child nutrition in Ghana and Africa.
Q: Did you study nutrition or its just the passion that birthed this good cause?
“hahahha. I have come across this question a hundred times from even doctors. I sometimes get calls from patients in hospitals especially mothers who have just delivered to give them recipes to boost breastmilk and I do so and it works for them like magic. NO I did not study nutrition but I must say I have read extensively for 4 years now on infant and child nutrition from articles from UNICEF, WHO, Ghana Health Service, Nestle Nutrition Institute and recipe books from Anabel karmel a renowned infant nutritionist in the United Kingdom she is my mentor actually. I have also practicalized most of my recipes and tested on my daughter and son who are 4 years and 22 months respectively.”
Q: Finally…….Any words or advice to mothers and any other person?
“Yes. I want all women out there to know they are specially made and designed by God. There are many opportunities around them that can be transformed into something tangible so they should always look for a way to transform lives. Any younger and upcoming person should not always look for bigger doors before they can do something they can always start from somewhere and with determination and grace they can do it.”
Q: How can Startright be reached and how can others support this good cause.
We can be reached via the following contact details
Our website: www.startrightfoods.net
Phone lines: Code(+233) 0246148713, 0269513225, 0241602559, 0203010110
Let’s get in touch with Startright this December with contributions to help them donate items to the head porters and their kids at the Madina market!!
Thank you Vera and God bless you for the good work and sacrifice with respect getting the most nutritious diets for our little bundles of joy. We also appreciate making time and accepting this interview.
Do you have a parenting story or tip to share? Get in touch with OMT by sending your story to firstname.lastname@example.org