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Entertainment of Friday, 5 October 2018

Source: Chris Koney

FEATURE: Character and perseverance, the story of Aboude Fast Food’s CEO

On a warm Saturday afternoon, I found myself riding in a KIA sedan with a man I have known from a distance through some principal streets within the heart of the Garden city of Ghana, Kumasi.

We were returning from Luv FM after catching up with Ghanaian musician, Shatta Wale, who had granted an interview at the station as part of his stakeholder and media engagements in the region ahead of the release of his “Reign” album on 13th October 2018.

In my quest to know how easier or challenging it is to build a successful business across Ghana and Kumasi for that matter, our conversation was narrowed down to the setting up of his establishment, Aboude Fast Food which is currently one of the leading eateries renowned for tasty meals, great music and excellent customer service. Aboude Fast Food provides its customers with the needed comfort for relaxation whilst enjoying delicious meals.

Born Abdel Ghafour Chaaban, he is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Aboude Fast Food and serves as the manager for both branches of the eatery in Kumasi. He is Lebanese by birth and Ghanaian by heart with Nana Kwame being his adopted Ghanaian name. He is married with two children - Taha Kekeli and Leila Ohemaa.

Within a few minutes into our conversation, It was easy to take note of his positive mindset and spirit. One wouldn’t be wrong to describe him as a person who will defy all odds toachieve something despite the difficulties, failure or opposition. He doesn’t seem to have the word impossible in his vocabulary, rather, fixated on channeling all his energies into realizing his dreams.

About his upbringing, Aboude, as he popularly known said “growing up in Lebanon was something else for me. It has always been hard work and ensuring I survived from a very young age. I had a great family - a beautiful and amazingly caring mum and a wonderful but strict father. I think at this point I entirely understand why he behaved that way and I very much appreciate him so much”.

With all the opportunities for a better education at his disposal, he decided to quit school at a very young age, then in elementary school. Despite all attempts by his parents and other relatives, he resisted any attempt to get him back to the El Jinan School. It was a very painful situation for a family which had become helpless in dealing with the stubbornness exhibited by a minor.

?Though young Aboude was obsessed with becoming successful in life, he thought the path to riches was a quick-fix approach by doing some menial jobs. He lived in his fantasies until the late nineties when he traveled to Ghana with his father and uncle. His father and uncle had heard about the investment opportunities in Ghana and possibility of creating wealth in a new and grey territory.

“After arriving in Ghana with my dad and uncle, all I wanted to do was to be with my uncle and work. That was around 1997. Apart from the thought of making money, I wanted to be with my uncle to work as well as cope and adjust to the new environment I found myself in”, Aboude said.

?His journey into the fast food business started somewhere in 2006 when his uncle got a shop in Abelempke, Accra to start a fast food joint.“My uncle got a shop to start a food business at the time. It was a small shop actually and at the time I couldn’t call it a restaurant due to the space and scope of operations. I was actually his assistant in the business which grew to become what we have today as Marwako Fast Food”, Aboude recounted.

After a few years on the job, he traveled to Lebanon to be with the rest of the family before returning to Ghana in the year 2011. Now on his own, he had to take the challenges that confronted him and face the world all by himself. He got employed by an Accra based travel and tour company, Karroum Travel and Tour.

With unending difficulties, he moved to Kumasi to work with Riverway, a company that sells building materials. There, he thought he could do better by starting up his own small eatery with the experience he had gained from working with his uncle. That was the point he conceived the idea of setting up Aboude Fast Food from a little corner.

Adding to his motivation to start his own business, Aboude stated that “I had fallen in love with the city and the people of Kumasi. I thought it was a place to push myself to create something to own. The challenges I had encountered prior to moving to Kumasi also played a huge role in my decision to pursue my dreams in life.

Times were very hard and difficult at a point that I couldn’t even afford to buy food myself. I have to be very honest with you, there was even a time in Accra when I had to walk from North Kaneshi to Tudu to see a friend for money to be able to buy food”.

His philosophy in business is to be kind, open and do your very best at all times in spite of any obstacles and distractions. “I felt with the real love I had for people around me and my nature of easily coping and socializing with people, I would be accepted by the people when I start my business. So I gave my all in any possible way and with guidance and blessings from Allah, we are here today. We have become a household name partly to the dedicated and passionate team I have built and I will continue to build. Though is gets difficult sometimes, God is watching over us and we shall make it bigger and better”, he emphasized.

?As a business minded person who sees challenges as opportunities, branching into another sector became necessary. Aboude is currently making moves to be strategic positioned in other sectors across the country. According to him, perseverance means a lot for him and perceives it as the ability to be on one’s feet strong and healthy to cause development and progress.

“Each and every human being needs to be loved, motivated and encouraged in this life and they can realize their goals and aspirations. Awareness plays a very big role in life and unfortunately that is what we are actually lacking in this part of the world” were his final words.