As the saying goes “an entrepreneur is someone who identifies a need in a market and finds a way to fill it”. This is what Priscilla and Kimberly Addison did when they realized that though Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa in the world, the country produces little chocolate.
Having recognized this, the sisters saw an opportunity to start an artisanal premium chocolate making company which they named ‘57 Chocolate –short for 1957, the year of Ghana’s Independence. The sisters upon starting the company in January 2016 applied for the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme for Manufacturing where they were selected as one of the winners.
This programme provided them with a small grant and networking opportunities to assist them in pushing their company further. Now, their aim is to set an example and demonstrate to the world that Africans can create products of the highest excellence and quality.
What motivated you to choose this industry?
Having spent time living in Geneva, Switzerland, we thought it was strange that Switzerland is known for its chocolate yet doesn’t grow cocoa, the core ingredient in chocolate. Meanwhile, Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa, but produces very little chocolate itself.
We saw a vast need for manufacturing of chocolate in Ghana and across the continent of Africa. In Ghana, the candy shelves of supermarkets and malls are overflowing with foreign chocolate bars, many undoubtedly made with Ghana’s very own cocoa. Having recognized all this, we were determined to use Ghanaian cocoa to create a Ghanaian brand of premium chocolate that is reputable locally and internationally.
Chocolate really peaked our interest because it allows us a lot of creativity. We get to experiment with different factors such as how dark to roast the beans, the percentage of cocoa to include, and creating different flavors and pairings (e.g. sea salt, coconut shavings etc). We also love chocolate because it really is a healthy treat if you choose chocolate that is high in cocoa content. At ’57 chocolate, cocoa, as opposed to sugar, is always the first and main ingredient in our dark and milk chocolate.
What steps did you take to start the company? What was/is your niche?
We started the company before we even had a name for it. The idea came about in 2014; however, we made our first batch of chocolate in 2016. In between this time, we took courses on chocolate making and confections and trained with people in the field. We also did a lot of research and reading on the industry then we developed our chocolate recipes through trial and error. We would give our small-batch chocolate to family and friends who happily agreed to taste test. Also, we spoke to people already working in the industry to seek advice and support.We developed our chocolate recipes through trial and error @57chocolategh Click To Tweet
Being from Ghana, it was important for us to create something that we were passionate about and that stood for a bigger purpose. Building our brand has been intricately tied to our desire to see Africans create products of premium value with the abundance of resources available. Hence the name ’57 Chocolate, which is short for 1957, the year of Ghana’s independence.
1957 was a revolutionary year for Ghana, not only because it was freed from colonial rule, but it is the year that gave birth to the nation’s “can do” spirit. The name ‘57 is meant to inspire a reawakening of Ghana’s 1957 “can do” spirit. From 1957 onwards, Ghanaians were creating and developing their own industries and products which resulted in a massive industrial boom. We want to return to that.
‘57 Chocolate aims to inspire the people of Ghana and Africa, to create and develop made in country products of high quality. Our niche is comprised of individuals who are looking for premium handmade chocolate that is made from bean to bar, and those keen on supporting Ghana’s industry by buying Made in Ghana products.
How did you fund the company? Are there companies willing to invest in this industry?
We funded the company with our personal savings, and with a few contributions from friends and family. We didn’t start with much, and we’ve been bootstrapping our way through this process. You have to make adjustments and sacrifices. As a silly, but true example, that pricey face toner from that fancy store we used to love for healthier-looking skin has now been replaced by a simple lime or lemon wedge. It surprisingly works just as well, though! It was important for us to commit to properly investing in our own company.
Additionally, we applied and were selected as a winner of the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme for Manufacturing which provided us with a small grant and networking opportunities.
There are definitely numerous companies willing to invest in cocoa processing. It is, after all, a multi-billion dollar industry.
What did you need academically and financially to qualify to start the company?
There aren’t really any academic qualifications needed to start the company.
Neither of us (Kimberly or Priscilla) has a background in chocolate making. We did need to take courses and get training on how to make and mould chocolate.
How did you brand your company? What were your business and/or marketing plans when you launched the product?
Our company is an artisanal premium chocolate company, as we wanted to fulfill this unique void in Ghana. Most importantly, we aim to keep Ghana’s cocoa in its truest form. Our chocolate is handmade in small batches, starting from sorting the cocoa bean by hand and processing it into the chocolate bar.
Our chocolate is rich in cocoa, and made without any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or weird things that are hard to pronounce. Additionally, our chocolate challenges the status quo of luxury chocolate being only a product of Europe. We are also both avid fans of African art. We aim to reflect and celebrate Ghanaian art and culture through our chocolate.@57chocolategh challenges the status quo of luxury chocolate being a product of Europe… Click To Tweet
In terms of marketing our brand, as emerging entrepreneurs, we needed to strategically devise an affordable approach to not only market our product, but also engage with customers. We would often casually speak with individuals shopping for chocolate in grocery stores to inform them about our chocolate company and leave them with business cards. Word of mouth has also helped spread awareness of our brand.
Additionally, we knew social media was is an incredibly powerful marketing tool. We still actively maintain our presence online, starting with a few social media handles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as a simple but elegant website. A combination of all these tools and techniques paved the way to slowly building our brand. Success rarely happens overnight. Many of the greatest companies rose from very humble beginnings. Our dad especially never lets us forget that Apple started out in a garage space.
How and where did you start selling your products? How was it received given the fact that most Ghanaians are not really open to new brands?
We first started by selling our products to family and friends. Once we created our website, we began to sell to a larger reach of customers in Accra, Ghana, who could either pick up the chocolate or have it delivered to them. Our customers buy directly from us. Our chocolate has been very well received, with positive and constructive feedback that has led us to make small tweaks along the way. People loved the traditional Adinkra symbols on our chocolate and thought they were beautiful. They also found our chocolate to be delicious and of high quality.
Over time, with quality chocolate products and great customer service, we believe we can positively change the way Ghanaians and individuals across the globe view African products. Our aim is to set an example and demonstrate to the world that Africans can create products of the highest excellence and quality. We hope that they will be excited to support 57’s mission.We believe we can positively change the way people view African products @57chocolategh Click To Tweet
What are your achievements in this field? What do you enjoy most about what you do?
We were really proud to be one of the winners of the Tony Elemelu Entrepreneurship Program for manufacturing in 2016. This program has provided us with an incredible amount of insight in business and has linked us to a multitude of entrepreneurs across the African continent. We are honored to have been selected to represent Ghana in the field of manufacturing.
The second accomplishment is having turned our idea into an actual product we can sell on the market locally that is valued by Ghanaians. We are humbled by the number of people who bought chocolate from us and then traveled across the world back home to share ‘57 Chocolate with their family and friends. Also, we are humbled by those across the globe who have tasted ‘57 Chocolate and then contacted us to ask when we will start shipping internationally. We’re delighted that people love our products and find value in it, and that in itself feels like a great achievement.
We love seeing the joy our chocolate brings to our clients. It also makes us happy knowing that we are adding value to a resource right at home. Many people thought this would be impossible to achieve. Additionally, it’s the support and encouragement that we’ve received from near and far. We have received several inquiries about investments and whether we ship our chocolate abroad.
What do you do daily to grow the company? What are your plans for the immediate future?
We work daily on social media to grow the company. It’s also important to be social outside of the internet! Go out, meet people, and network. Essentially, you are an ambassador of your brand.
In the immediate future, we will continue to provide high-quality products to our customers. We also plan to continue to create gainful job opportunities as we expand our operations. Over the long-term, we aim to create a Ghanaian chocolate brand that is known world-wide, but most importantly one that surpasses our lifetime. We hope to have our chocolate sold across the continent of African and around the globe.
What does a day-in-the-life of the CEO of 57 Chocolate consist of?
Wake up and be thankful for the day
Early morning exercise
Eat a breakfast of champions
Make, mould, and package chocolate
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