Adisa Tinorgah-seidu knew she wanted to do something else after working three years at
Her background is in International Business with a focus on finance.
In 2009 she quit her job on Wall Street and decided to start a business in Ghana. The initial idea was to sell romantic gifts for couples.
So, she opened Odo Asem(which translates from local parlance, Twi into "love matters") a gift shop where she sold "massage oils, rose petals-things like that we didn't we have sex toys, we had handcuff [and] few things but while you are shopping on the site for these things you see other interesting gifts".
I decided to let me stock a few of these things since they are not available here and see how it goes and they would move so fast.”
And that is her sex toys empire began.
Now people order more of the sex toys compared to the other gifts she sells.
At Odo Asem people who want to spice up their sex lives go to get a wide range of toys from vibrators to dildos, masturbators for guys, penis pumps, lubricants, extension condoms etc.
Tinorgah-Seidu knows that sex toys cannot replace a human partner during sex but "it can definitely enhance [it]. These things are engineered to provide specific types of pleasure to places that may be a normal human penis can’t reach."
Sex is a very discreet topic in the Ghanaian cultural context.
Many are uncomfortable talking about the subject, let alone walk into a shop to buy a sex toy.
That was a major hurdle Tinorgah - Seidu had to overcome. How to sell sex toys to a people who generally see sex as a taboo.
But sex is as important as any other aspect of life. A good number of researchers on the Internet mention poor sex as one of the major causes of divorces around the world making sex very important in any romantic relationship.
Sex matters affecting the marriages of religious couples, in particular, led to a sermon in 2015 by the Presiding Bishop of the Lighthouse Chapel International. Bishop Dag Heward Mills blamed the bad sex life of most Christians on religious restrictions.
"All these religious restrictions even prevent you from having the variations that you need to have exciting sex,” He said to his congregants. “ I don’t think there is anything wrong with oral sex because there is no red flag on any part of the body. Which law [states] that this place is not good; you can kiss here, but you cannot lick here because kissing is licking."
“To be honest when I started so many people told me it wouldn't work - are you crazy? You can't do this in Ghana, Ghanaians are too conservative, " said Adisa.
Her mum and dad were not supportive during the initial stages either. But as she puts it now “the numbers don’t lie”. She gets lots of orders every month.
Business is exceptionally good on special occasions such as mother’s day, Valentine’s day and others.
How are the sex toys selling in a culture where sex is unspoken of?
Tinorgah-Seidu believes "people are more open-minded than others will give us credit for. We are not as conservative as people think we are. People have embraced it."
Married couple between the ages of 25 and early 50 are her main customer base. She "has lots of men coming in to buy toys for women or for themselves and we have women buying for themselves" too.
How does using sex toys help in sexual intercourse?
Efi started using the vibrator about six months ago. "I have always wanted to have one so a friend bought it for me." She said, "It’s been disappointing. It gives you pleasure but it gives you the feeling of what next?"
Using the vibrator to get pleasure on her own is good, but she believes it is even better with a partner.
Another Kobby uses water-based lubricants he gets from the pharmacy shop. In his opinion, this is best because "when it gets dry and you add a bit of water it feels so fresh".
He has also used a masturbator before. "It has this cup fill and the mouth looks like a vulva. But I didn't enjoy it that much."
Kobby would want to explore with more sex toys but "the shops are rare."
Tinorgah-Seidu believes this will change when more and more people begin to have open conversations about sex and begin to explore.
"I don't impose sex toys on people I don't try to convince someone who doesn't want to use a sex toy to use one because it's really not for everyone. But people who are adventurous or maybe bored or are open minded and would want try you can start with something not so scary. Start small.”
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