How to Build Your Business While Staying True to Your Roots with Araba
It’s easy to get pulled away from what truly matters when you’re running a business.
As a modern global leader, you may feel the need to stay true to your cultural heritage, no matter where you are in the world.
Perhaps you’d even like to weave your cultural traditions into your business.
So, how do you keep your values and mission alive during the hustle and bustle?
I sat down with Araba Ofori, an entrepreneur and writer based in Accra, Ghana, to talk about building a business in the diaspora focused on spiritual wellness.
She goes over how to answer the “call” of coming home into your business, how to deal with the cultural shift into modern society, and all the things you need to help you combine culture and business together.
Araba covers topics about how you can:
- Support Ghana’s black-owned businesses
- Recognize and identify your privilege as a Black or African person
- Preserve your cultural values in a modern world
- Offer support for the Motherland without having to move back
If you want to learn more about heritage or returning to your roots, listen to this interview here.
Or, if you're more of a reader, check out the blog post below 👇🏾
How Araba Started Her Career in Spiritual Wellness
Araba is a writer, healer, and entrepreneur who moved back to Accra, Ghana, from London about two years ago.
She believes her purpose is to help Africans realize their potential and step into the magic and beauty as individuals and together as a people.
Although Araba has stepped into her calling, her career wasn’t always centered on spiritual wellness. Instead, as many traditional career paths go, she began in corporate sales and creative marketing.
Up until 2017, she’d been a freelancer who wrote and marketed social media content. Only after moving to India to become a yoga instructor did her interest in spiritual wellness start to grow.
And soon, her blog about a Londoner's city adventures evolved into posts on the struggles with depression, mental health, and spiritual wellness.
As Araba grew more self-aware, she realized her appetite for culture and spirituality led her back to reconnecting with her ethnic roots.
Including Cultural Heritage into Your Business
Currently, Araba’s various businesses and projects connect to her desire to help Africans and Africans in the diaspora access wellness practices in line with their cultural practices.
She discusses how you can merge your cultural heritage with your business and what she’s personally done to combine the two.
Supporting Ghana’s Black-Owned Businesses
One of Araba’s main goals is to create a space for her people to recognize that they have something to share with the world.
She co-runs Black Ghana - an organization whose mission is to shape and showcase Ghana’s best black-owned businesses.
While she first mentions that the name may sound cliché or unnecessary (as most of Ghana’s population is Black), you’d be surprised at how many people shop for items made by foreign-owned brands. Or, if they are buying Ghanaian-made products, then the companies themselves aren't Black Ghanaians specifically.
So how can you, as a business owner, help support brands that reflect your own culture?
You can start by educating yourself on what embodies an authentic representation. Then, look into the businesses, speak to the workers, find out how the products are being made or who’s behind providing the services.
You’ll feel more confident in what the businesses are producing and understand the importance of learning about the company and its significance within your community.
You can be an invaluable ally to businesses by providing marketing and coaching services, including them in your campaigns, and displaying the products or services across your social media.
There are often limited resources for those who start on their own. This is a great opportunity for you to get involved in the community around your business!
Supporting local businesses and advocating for involvement in your culture can help build strong community bonds locally and worldwide.
The Multi-faceted Aspects of Privilege
One of the biggest struggles for Araba when going back to Ghana was keeping her privilege in check - even as a black Ghanian person herself.
Here she is back in Ghana, a black British female with an English accent who wasn’t necessarily used to being the most privileged person in the room in the UK.
When Araba first moved back home to Ghana, she was confused at first as to why the locals were treating her differently, for she certainly didn’t consider herself any different.
She then realized that she might not relate to the locals’ experiences as her life experiences were different from theirs.
For example, her accent and the way she talks have provided her with opportunities and opened doors to certain things that may not be available to others in the community.
Have you ever felt this way before? Although you may share similar physical characteristics with your culture, different life experiences may affect the opportunities that are available to you? Share with me in the comments section of this post!
Understanding and being sensitive to these cultural differences are important for all business owners, but this is especially so if you’re trying to be inclusive of different backgrounds.
Araba states the importance of being mindful of this when approaching your business to the local community.
You can do this by speaking with the right people in the community and showing up at local events.
By doing so, you’ll learn how the local community is receptive to your business and be positively approachable.
Preserving Your Cultural Values in a Modern World
Cultural values and traditions are intrinsically tied to the place where you live. It's a way for communities to express themselves, celebrate their history, and stay connected.
And with the inevitable changes in society, there can be clashes of cultural practices and norms.
If you’re looking to weave culture into your business, it's important to understand that cultural values can define you and your company despite the changes in the modern world.
Cultural values go beyond just being a list of beliefs; they establish your identity as a brand, an entity that is more than just a group of products or services but rather something you can relate to and identify with your heritage and community.
This notion was important to Araba in her spiritual wellness practice and space. She found that although her spiritual and wellness practice was something different to the Ghanian community, she was adaptive in knowing what would work best for her brand and introducing it to the locals in a way that was receptive to them.
For example, finding and speaking to the right people or showing up at different events to promote the business to search for your ideal clients.
For Araba and her business, she plans on doing this to promote her new book. Her book is about wellness practices that you can do, centered on Africans and the many different ways to be African while incorporating ancient African worldviews.
Offering Support to 'the Motherland' Without Physically Moving Back
You, like many business owners who may live outside of your cultural homeland, may still very much maintain strong ties to its customs, traditions, and community.
And even if you don’t, cultural integration is something that’s a growing trend among businesses and companies wanting to expand their reach.
So regardless if you do or don’t, there are some aspects of cultural support that will help you become more universal in the way you approach your business.
Araba talks about how you can support and help with community building even if you live outside of the Motherland.
She refers to this as “coming home.” Coming home doesn’t just mean physically getting on a plane and traveling home to Ghana or another African country - it can be coming home in a spiritual, emotional, and mental sense.
Say if you’re in the US, UK, or wherever in the world and want to reconnect with your cultural heritage but are unable to travel, there are other ways to reconnect.
- Connecting via social media and with content creators
- Learning how to cook your local foods and speaking your local language
- Researching and practicing different wellness practices and spirituality specific to your culture
- Connecting with your local community where you live and supporting each other via growth and heritage
It can be a challenge to find the right balance between your cultural roots and business goals. Some business owners think they may even need to sacrifice being true to their culture to succeed in business.
If you’re feeling this way, it’s not true!
Araba shared with you how you’re able to incorporate culture into your business. Which ones are you going to include?
Let me know by tagging me in a story and include the hashtag #askakua. I will also share a special little gift for you!
To connect with Araba, check out her Instagram page @araba.oa
To listen to this podcast on the go, check out the full episode here.
Want to dive deeper into developing a unique blueprint for knowing what to focus on as a visionary leader?
Learn more about how to work with me 1-1 and get your focus back on track here.