From Dreams to Reality: Juliana Sesay and Lyoa Sourced Company

Meet Juliana T  Sesay

In a world full of challenges and obstacles, it takes a special kind of individual to shine their light and make a difference. Juliana T Sesay, the founder and Business manager of Lyoa Sourced Company Ltd., exemplifies the essence of shining her light as she leads her agribusiness venture with passion, perseverance, and purpose.

Five years ago, Juliana embarked on a journey to create a market for local beekeepers in Sierra Leone through her company, Lyoa Sourced. Together with her late partner, she set out to add value, brand, and distribute honey and beeswax candles under the trade name Lyoa. The story of Lyoa is not just about creating products; it’s about creating a positive impact on the environment, the local community, and the lives of others.

The Light Bulb Moment: From Passion to Purpose

Juliana’s inspiration for Lyoa came from a simple but powerful conversation. Someone expressed the desire to see locally produced goods properly branded and packaged in supermarkets. This sparked a fire within Juliana, and she realized that she could make a difference by creating a brand that represents her values and provides quality products to consumers. Thus, Lyoa Honey, a natural sugar substitute for her tea, became the first product to hit the market.

Overcoming Challenges with Determination

Entrepreneurship is riddled with challenges, especially in Sierra Leone’s business landscape. Juliana faced numerous hurdles, such as sourcing appropriate packaging and overcoming misconceptions about honey made from refined sugar. However, she tackled each obstacle with resilience and resourcefulness.

The loss of her partner added another layer of difficulty, but Juliana found strength in her community and her own inner resolve. Juggling grief, pregnancy, and raising a child while running a startup was no easy feat, but she persevered and found support from her “village people.”

The Path Less Traveled: Embracing Sustainability

In a world where cheap and quick solutions often take precedence, Juliana has stayed true to her values and passion for the environment. While some may recommend cost-cutting measures, she remains steadfast in her commitment to sustainability. As an advocate for building a brand to be passed down through generations, Juliana reminds aspiring entrepreneurs to consider the impact of their business on future generations and the world they leave behind.
Before she started her company, Juliana have had work experiences with International Non- Governmental organisations and private institutions in Sierra Leone. She loves the art of writing and that gift was how she earned her first Job as a Public relations officer of a mentoring program that she was a part of.
After that job, her degree In financial services landed her a job as the administrative and finance officer in a private institution. However, her days as an employee were short-lived, maybe due to lack of motivation on the job or through fate or just having a passion for business. She became a full-time entrepreneur just five years after her graduation.
Her light bulb moment to start Lyoa was a conversation that she had with someone, who said, “I would love to visit our supermarkets and find our local produce properly branded and packaged”. That was when she thought to herself; this is something we could do.
Lyoa Honey was the first product she introduced to the market because she does not drink sugar at all and had always used honey as a sugar substitute in her tea.
Over the years they have introduced the beeswax candle as the souvenir or event line which is mostly what drives new customers towards the business.
They have done several rebranding, from plastic containers to glass jars, to change of labels etc. The goal is to create products which fully represents all of our values.

A Customised Lyoa Souvenir

Success Stories and Building Connections
Juliana’s success story is not merely confined to the survival of her business for five years; it is curated by the lasting relationships she has built with loyal customers and the triumph of her souvenir line.

By sharing real-life experiences and connecting with customers through social media, she has humanized the Lyoa brand, fostering strong connections and credibility.

You need knowledge of business to run a business, you can have a passion but to convert that passion into business you need to learn about it.

Lyoa branded souvenirs on display at a Luxurious Wedding

The Journey of Continuous Learning

Juliana understands the importance of staying updated and continuously learning. Alongside utilizing the vast resources available on the internet, she actively engages in various courses, workshops, and entrepreneurial boot camps. Embracing both traditional and modern learning methods has been pivotal in her growth as an entrepreneur.

Paying It Forward: Gratitude and Inspiration

‘Five years ago, I called a lady who is in the industry and requested to see her, she was so happy to meet me and shared some of her contacts with me on how to source packing. We spent some time in her office as she shared some of her experiences and dreams for her product. I aspire to be someone like her, she is still in the industry and thriving’.
Juliana acknowledges the support and guidance she received from those who came before her. The open-heartedness of fellow entrepreneurs who shared their experiences and contacts with her played a significant role in her journey. She now aspires to be a source of inspiration for others, just as she finds inspiration in the accomplishments of her fellow Sierra Leonean women entrepreneurs.
Build a strong network of people, or at least get closer to the one who knows everyone. If you, like me have social anxieties you may find it hard to network or maintain new relationships, so try to become the friend of the one who knows everyone. This is something I wish I knew a long time ago.

Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Juliana offers valuable advice based on her own experiences. Building a strong network, learning about business, working hard, staying consistent, being creative, and avoiding shortcuts are all critical elements for success.

To “shine your light” means to live life fully and authentically in a way that others are inspired. First of all it must be noted that each of us carry a light within us and when you shine your light, you illuminate the path you have chosen for others to follow and thrive. Like the good old book says in Mathew, let your light so shine before men that they may say your good works and give glory to your father in heaven.

Shining Your Light: Living Authentically

For Juliana, ‘’To shine your light” is to live life authentically and fully, inspiring others through your actions and deeds. Juliana’s journey with Lyoa Sourced Company Ltd. exemplifies this philosophy, as she radiates positivity and makes a difference in the lives of those around her. By shining her light, she illuminates a path for others to follow, fostering a legacy that extends beyond her company and touches the lives of many.

Believe it when we say, Juliana Sesay’s story is a testament to the power of passion, purpose, and perseverance in overcoming challenges and creating a lasting impact. As we all strive to shine our own lights, let us remember the valuable lessons from Juliana’s journey: to embrace sustainability, build meaningful connections, continuously learn, pay it forward, and above all, live authentically. Let Juliana’s story inspire us to ignite our own lights and make a positive difference in the world. As we do so, we contribute to a brighter, more compassionate, and sustainable future for generations to come.

What was your favourite part of this blogpost? How do you intend to ‘Shine Your Light’ this week? Tell us in the comments.

Written by: arianadiaries

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