Hi, I'm Agyepomaa Oklah, the creative director of Ajepomaa Design Gallery, and I'm excited to share our journey. Our fashion apparel company has been around since February 2010, and it's been a 12-year adventure filled with ups and downs. Before COVID-19, we were a small team of five, and we were manufacturing for both our online and in-store customers. However, the online part of our business was moving slowly at the time. But when COVID hit, things changed dramatically. The pandemic forced people to stay home, and they started ordering online. This shift helped boost our online business significantly. As for our in-store operations, it took some time before we saw improvements.
In 2021, we experienced a substantial drop in our in-store sales due to the lingering effects of COVID-19. We had to make some tough choices, including staff layoffs and having our remaining team work reduced hours. But then, I heard about the COVID-19 response grant from GEA, supported by the World Bank, through a relative. Later, it was advertised in newspapers and on billboards across the city, making me even more eager to apply.
I was thrilled when I got approved for the grant. It was my first time receiving support from the Government of Ghana. The grant amounted to 44,000 Ghana CEDs, which was equivalent to $10,000 at the time. With this financial boost, we were able to hire more people, invest in equipment, and expand our operations. We doubled our production output, going from around 20 pieces per week to an impressive 35 to 40 pieces.
We also harnessed the increasing demand for online shopping through platforms like WhatsApp and our e-commerce website. The grant allowed us to enhance our online presence and meet the needs of our customers. The grant's positive impact extended to our physical store. With its help, we were able to move to a new location, marking a significant milestone in our journey.
I am incredibly thankful to the Ghana Enterprise Agency, the World Bank, and the Government of Ghana for granting us this opportunity to expand our business and fuel our growth. Our journey at Ajepomaa Design Gallery is a testament to the power of resilience and how the right support can transform a small business. We've emerged from the challenges of COVID-19 stronger and more influential than ever.
As we continue to inspire and thrive in Accra, Ghana, our story serves as a beacon of hope for all entrepreneurs and business owners. It's a reminder that with determination and support, anything is possible. We're living proof that the journey to growth is both challenging and rewarding.