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From vaccines to wine, the woman who brings Italy to Ghana

From vaccines to wine, the woman who brings Italy to Ghana

Accra - Thus between Elisabetta Di Renzo and Africa is a passion harvested by time, and today the string that ties her to the continent pulls her to Ghana, where she became executive director of the Nighita Holding company: importer of nothing but the finest Italian wines and Prosecco.
Elisabetta hadn't always been an entrepreneur, but rather she started as a doctor, more specifically a pediatrician in her city of Verona. Her life before moving to Ghana circled upon caring for many children in the vast African immigrant community residents in Verona and Brescia. "I predominantly explained to the immigrants what vaccines where important for their children's health" she said. A large slice of the community of foreigners she worked with was Ghanaians, "good people, peaceful, willing, they worked humble jobs. Many of them were employed in marble mines and in the processing of leather. Works Italian citizens are no longer interested in".

There's a spark when she meets with those families, a burning flame of curiosity. Curiosity on Africa, and then she starts to travel "not like a tourist, in luxury resorts - she stresses - I went in the pursuit of other cultures, other ways of life and I was curious to discover if freshness and change could enter in my life, elements for the rupture of the past". Her travels push her to Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, Swaziland: where she meets king Mswati III, dressed in feathers and where she remains stunned at local costume. "Every year the king of Swaziland, a very small country half way from Mozambique to South Africa, has the right to marry a virgin" she exclaims.
Then in return from her travels she feels that her work in Verona doesn't push her enough. The experiences from her colleagues gave her the motivation to go. She decided to work for Emergency in Kabul, Afghanistan, in Gino Strada's War Hospital, where she spent 6 months.
"Once there I worked on everything, I wasn't only a pediatrician, I moved from the emergency room to the surgery room and even made recognitions with the US Army". When she moves back to Italy Elisabetta tells us that she found strong nostalgia of Africa and a void that was filled by those adventurous experiences that she lived through her travels. The encounter with a Ghanaian businessman changed her life. He is in import/export of high-end Italian products towards Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Cost spreading our Made in Italy. "He was also interested in exporting Italian wines - she continues - such as Lambrusco, Bardolino, Fragolino, Merlot, Cabernet. Thanks to my passion for wine, I decided to participate to some wine tasting and I started to help him with buying some initial bottles". "Ghanaians love our wine - she exclaims - they consume it mostly during the funerals". Tradition wants that in Ghana funerals are like long, endless party where people dance and sing to make the relative dead happy in their new dimension.

And one thing follows the other from there. Elisabetta landed in Ghana in 2015 and she handles the first exports of wines. After 40 days the cargo arrives and from there her import/export adventure starts. She finds a Ghanaian partner and a Nigerian one and she puts together her own company: Nighita Holding, where Ni is for Nigeria, Gh for Ghana and It for Italy, the company that today falls under the list of the Italian "info mercati esteri". The partnership is strong but Elisabetta has to take care of every single aspect of the business, from the building of a list of clients to the details of the documents for the shipments. "There are mornings when I wake up and my agenda is so full of commitments, a number of them are similar to those of a longshoreman - she says smiling - that I feel overwhelmed, but then I remember I was the one who wanted a fresh start and I feel proud of my efforts".

Even though she is now into business everybody in Accra knows she is a doctor and a pediatrician one. She has given her availability to set up a First Aid point in the Northern Region, the poorest of the Country. "Fr. Lazarus Anondee, President and Secretary General of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, a good person and a friend, asked for my help and I accepted immediately, he now relies on me for this sanitary project in his homeland - she stresses - but we need help and funds to set it up". Suddenly is time for her to rush to the harbor to take care of her last shipment but there is time for a last question "what do you see in your future?". "To open in Ghana a first SignorVino wine shop and restaurant, as those of Mr Veronesi in Italy, where people will get to know how much wine is the authentic star of Italian culture and tradition".