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Reverse Brain Drain: The reason Kim and Priscilla Addison moved to Ghana to do business

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Priscilla and Kimberly (Kim) Addison did not grow up in Ghana, neither did they set out to be chocolatiers.

Although of Ghanaian heritage, both girls grew up in Senegal and had their higher education in the United States. Priscilla is a graduate of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, where she obtained a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) with a specialization in International Development. Kim holds a Bachelors of Arts in French and International Studies with concentration in Social Justice from Boston College.

So what prompted them to move to Ghana to start a business in an industry where they had no experience?

Priscilla (left) and Kimberly (right)

Their Inspiration

Kim/Priscilla: “Two years ago, we thought it was strange that Switzerland is known for its chocolate but yet, does not have a single cocoa tree. Meanwhile Ghana, being the second largest producer of cocoa grows the main ingredient in chocolate (cocoa) but produced very little chocolate itself. We saw a vast need for manufacturing in Ghana and across the continent of Africa.” The girls said in an interview with African Vibes.

Just last year these sisters were awarded the 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship program for manufacturing. This was in recognition of their game changing entrepreneurial efforts as chocolatiers.

I caught up with the girls to learn about their business and experience as Returnees. Here is what they had to say.

Their Business idea

Kim/Priscilla: “Generally, there is untapped potential in the manufacturing of chocolate across the continent.  In Ghana, the candy shelves of supermarkets and malls are overflowing with foreign chocolate bars, some undoubtedly made with Ghana’s very own cocoa. On the other hand, Ghana is known for its cocoa, but not for its chocolate products. Having recognized all this, we were determined to create a Ghanaian brand that is reputable locally and internationally.

‘57 Chocolate was conceived in an attempt to inspire the youth to use their minds and creative geniuses to transform Ghana’s resources by making and creating local products of premium value. At ’57 Chocolate we take dried cocoa beans and process them into luxurious chocolate and confections. What’s most unique about our business is that we produce chocolate that is a reflection of Ghanaian art and culture, right from our packaging to our chocolate products.”

Their Inspiration

Kim/Priscilla: “We look to Ghanaian art and culture for our inspiration. Our 10 gram Adinkra bars are particularly a reflection of motivation. These bite sized bars are beautifully engraved with visual symbols created by the Ashanti of Ghana. We have a collection of 12 different Adinkra symbols, each representing a concept or a particular meaning. We will be adding more concepts to our collection in the coming year.

We are also working on some exciting flavors which will incorporate more local ingredients, we hope to debut within the coming year!”

Their brand

Kim/Priscilla: “The name ’57 is short for 1957—the year of Ghana’s independence. 1957 was a revolutionary year for the country, not only because it was freed from colonial rule, but it is the year that gave birth to the nation’s “can do spirit.” Before 1957, industrialization in Ghana was non-existent, most goods were imported and not produced in the country. It is a call and reminder that sometimes in order to go forward, we need to look back at our foundation—our roots. ‘57 Chocolate aims to inspire the people of Ghana, especially the youth to create and develop made in Ghana products of premium value.”

Their Goal

Kim/Priscilla: “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.”

The Naysayers

Kim/Priscilla: “The biggest setback was meeting people along the way who kept telling us the idea of making chocolate from bean to bar in Ghana was impossible.

Despite the discouraging comments, we persevered. What may be impossible to one person is possible to 100+ others. We decided to show people that it can be done. Of course we made plenty of mistakes along the way, but this is always part of the journey and the climb to success.”

Overcoming Negativity

Kimberly: “It’s my faith in Jesus Christ. In challenging times, I am able to press on because I know God is bigger than any challenge I can ever face. He is my source of strength.”

Priscilla: “For me, it’s the endless possibilities Ghana has to offer.  We are eager to keep using our creativity to address some of Ghana’s problems. Our intention is not only to stick to cocoa but adventure into other sectors and create something in addition to ’57 Chocolate that will outlive our lifetime.”

Accomplishments

Kim/Priscilla: “Winning the Tony Elemelu  Entrepreneurship Program for manufacturing is one of our biggest successes. Our experience with the program has been a great opportunity! It 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 actual products we can sell on the market locally that our customers patronize.

Currently, we have 6 signature flavors: dark (2 kinds including 88 percent baobab and 73 percent dark chocolate), milk, white and mocha latte (coffee flavor), and bissap (or hibiscus flavor) chocolate products. We pair our chocolates with various ingredients like coconut, almond and sea salt. For a complete list of our products, please visit our website. Our best sellers are the 73 percent dark chocolate and mocha latte flavors.

Our clients buy our chocolate directly from us since all chocolates are handmade and made to order. They contact us via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or via email at hello@57chocolategh.com. At the moment we do not retail our products, but we hope to do this in targeted boutiques once the time is right.

Why it’s worth it

Kim/Priscilla: “First and foremost, we love seeing the joy our chocolate brings to our clients, 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.”

Memories along the way

Kim/Priscilla: “One special memory we have is making our first batch of chocolate. It was absolutely spectacular to feel, taste and see an actual product we created. After experimenting with a few recipes, we had finally settled on one we both enjoyed and wanted to share with the world. This was really a proud moment for us. An equally special moment was our first bulk sale of our Adinkra chocolates for a Ghanaian wedding!”

Lessons Learned in Business

Kim/Priscilla: “We have learned many lessons. Here are just a few: In our experience as emergent entrepreneurs, we have learned to always have several contingency providers in case your primary contact is unable to deliver in a timely manner.

We have  also learned that there is really never a right time to start. Now is always the right time.  Start making and creating your product, put it out there. Based on feedback from you market, you can always improve  or tweak it along the way.

We have learned that mistakes are important. As much as you don’t want to make mistakes they are inevitable. It’s part of the journey to becoming great.”

True Grit

Doing Business in Ghana

Kim/Priscilla: “It’s definitely not been easy. Although we are Ghanaian by heritage, we had never lived in Ghana up until this point. It is important to know and understand the factors that can either benefit or hurt the operations of your business.

A major challenge for us with starting the business was dumsor– a popular Ghanaian word used to describe the unpredictable power outages. Ghana has been undergoing a power crisis and our business requires a study supply of electricity in order to produce and store our chocolate, since it is made from bean to chocolate bar. We have a generator in case we are in need of electricity.”

Take the Leap of Faith

Kim/Priscilla: “We were living in Switzerland, before moving to Ghana. We both knew we wanted to move back to Ghana, get to know our culture better, be closer to family (our parents) and build something with our creative minds. We didn’t have many fears, we were always hopeful and positive. We believe if you speak and believe positivity it will manifest itself this way. What was incredibly challenging was understanding Ghana’s business environment, as this is not so evident.”

Ghana Culture Shock?

Kim/Priscilla: “Not at all. We grew up in Dakar, Senegal. No matter where you live there will be similarities and differences. We learn to understand and sometimes appreciate the differences.”

Ghana – The Good

Kim: “I like the sunshine, heat and the avid entrepreneurship movement in Ghana.”

Priscilla: “Tropical fruit (pineapples, mangoes ans coconuts). I also like that there is so much opportunity to innovate, create and solve some of the country’s challenges.”

Ghana – The Bad

Kim:  “I dislike that we import so much and place very little value on goods made in Ghana.

Priscilla: “The plastic waste! It’s everywhere, on the streets and along the beach side. It’s a huge problem! We all need to make an effort to keep Ghana clean”

Word of wisdom to entrepreneur returnees

Kim/Priscilla: “Do a lot research and reading , as well as talk to people in your field of interest. Anticipate your challenges but be open to making mistakes. That’s the only way you are going to learn.”

Editor’s Note

Priscilla and Kim are a reminder that for Africa to live its potential, we all have a role to play.  It is not enough for Africans in the diaspora to elevate themselves and their immediate families with some level of intellectual and financial success. Success of an African diasporan should have an additional measure, and that  should be the knowledge and resource contribution given back to the continent to improve the situation of those who may not be direct beneficiaries of the same opportunities we were each given. Whether it is job creation, training people in an industry to do things better, building infrastructure, contributing ideas or resources … we each have an obligation to do something. If Africa thrives, the world thrives along with it.

– Belle Niba

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African Ingenuity

One of The Oldest Tribes In Africa Was Kicked Out Of Their Homes And Here Is What Happened

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Displaced Batwa Tribe

The Batwa tribe is one of the oldest in Africa. They originally resided in the rainforests of Congo, Uganda, and Rwanda. They survived many decades through hunting and gathering. However, in the 1990s, the government evicted them from the rainforest leaving them homeless. This and subsequent events threw them into poverty.

The actions of the governments of the three countries were prompted by the need to create a national park. The national parks helped to preserve the population of endangered gorillas in the Virunga Mountains. Since then, the population of the gorillas has grown to 880 in 2018 from 284 in 1981. Tourists now pay a huge amount to spend one hour with the apes. The parks have become a huge money spinner for the East African countries. However, the Batwa tribe paid the price.

A glimmer of hope for eighteen Batwa families

Volcanoes Safaris, a luxury lodge operator was drawn to the plight of the Batwa tribe condemned to squat in Uganda’ farmland. The founder of Volcanoes Safari, Praveen Moman was touched by their appalling livelihood. Moman first met the Batwa tribe when he opened the Mount Gahinga Lodge in 1997 on the outskirts of Mgahinga Gorilla National Park in Uganda. The encounter sparked their relationship.

Through the Volcanoes Safari Partnership Trust, Moman gifted ten acres of land to the tribe.  When asked about what motivated his actions, Moman said,

“Generally, we want to support people and improve their livelihood in relation to the work we do at our lodges. It was a bunch of rocks on which they built little shacks of twigs, of tarpaulins, of cardboard—whatever they could get.”

All the material used for the construction of the new village were donations from the guests at Mount Gahinga lodge and the Volcanoes Safari Trust. However, Uganda-based Studio FH architects’ contribution was in terms of supervision services and free designs.

A glimpse into the new settlement for the Batwa tribe

The village consists of eighteen houses each measuring twenty square meters. Each of the homes boasts of a bedroom, common room and a covered veranda which also serves as the kitchen. Eucalyptus poles with bamboo crisscross form a grid and make up the walls. However, the roofing consists of metal sheets with papyrus coating.

Batwa Village Home

The builders took some steps to ensure the safety of these eco-friendly homes. First, the buildings have compact spacing for wind protection as well as to conserve farming lands. Secondly, the verandas face opposite of the direction of strong winds from the volcanoes. To ensure proper sanitation, two buildings containing latrines lie in the slopes on one side of the village.

The Batwa tribe village also has a community center on a 100 square meter space. Consequently, the dome-shaped community center is intended to be used for multiple purposes that involves public gathering. The official opening of the village was in May 2018.

Batwa tribe village community center

The 2018 Emerging Architecture Awards

The contributions of Studio FH Architects to the Batwa tribe also earned them a place on the 2018 Emerging Architecture Awards list. The prestigious award instituted in 1999 honors young designers who create a positive impact in their environment through architectural designs.

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There Is A Growing List of African Countries That Allow Dual Citizenship

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Dual citizenship means holding the rights of a citizen in more than one country. Specifically, you are a dual citizen if you are lawfully regarded as a citizen in two countries.

You can become a dual citizen through various processes–through birth, marriage, naturalization, or adoption. A minor adopted by citizens of another country can be granted citizenship status of the adoptive parents’ country—at least one of the parents must be a citizen of that country.

African Countries that Allow Dual Citizenship

Not all countries allow dual citizenship. Some of the Western countries that allow dual citizenship include the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Switzerland, and Australia. But what happens if you come from an African country that does not recognize dual citizenship? This is a major concern for many Africans in the diaspora. In fact, not all African countries allow dual citizenship.

Some of the African countries that allow dual citizenship include:

CountryRecent Amendment
Algeria2005
Angola2007
Benin
Burundi
Ivory Coast
Comoros2013
Cape Verde
Tunisia
Djibouti
Egypt2004
Ghana
Kenya2011
Malawi
Sudan
Somalia
Senegal
South Africa2004
Nigeria
Morocco2005
Mauritius2012
Lesotho
Libya2014
Uganda
Zambia2017
Sierra Leone
Madagascar

This figure may change depending on a country’s changing laws and regulations. For example, dual citizenship in Malawi was allowed from December 2018, after parliament made amendments to the 1966 Citizenship Act. Lesotho made a similar amendment in December 2018. Some countries only allow dual citizenship in special circumstances–not entirely.

With the growing trend of African countries adjusting laws to accommodate the diaspora, Ghana has taken things a step further to become the first African country that supports dual citizenship for the involuntary African diaspora. Involuntary African diaspora consists of people of African descent whose ancestors did not leave the continent voluntarily. These are the peopel whose ancestors were forced through the slave trade to leave their homes.

Implications

For Africans coming from countries that allow dual citizenship, it is easier to become dual citizens in other countries that similarly allow dual citizenship.  If you come from countries that do not recognize dual citizenship, applying for citizenship in another country ultimately revokes or cancels your citizenship in your home country.

Advantages

Dual citizens enjoy the rights and benefits offered from both countries. For example, they can vote in the two countries. Depending on applicable law, they may also run for office. The current Somalia president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, holds both American and Somalia citizenship.

Dual citizens can also work in either country without the requirement for a work permit. For students, they can attend school in either of the countries at the citizens’ tuition rate. As a dual citizen, you can also own property in the two countries.

Disadvantages

One of the major drawbacks of dual citizenship is double taxation. The United States, for instance, imposes taxes on its citizens, regardless of the source country of the income. Some applicable laws, however, can reduce the double taxation effect, depending on agreements between the two countries. Also, the process of gaining dual citizenship can be long and expensive.

African Diaspora

For Africans in the diaspora, most would want to have dual citizenship. Dual citizenship makes their lives easier in their ‘home’ countries. With dual citizenship, they can more easily invest which in turn creates jobs. Some African countries make it easy for their citizens to achieve this through their embassies whereas for others the procedure can be quite complex. The growing trend among African countries to embrace dual citizenship, creates an opportunity to bridge the widening distance between those countries and the diaspora.

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Lifestyle

Ethiopian Prime Minister and Wife Set An Example With Adoption From Kibebe Tsehay Orphanage

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Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed’s charisma has warmed our hearts on multiple occasion. His latest example came to fruition this month when the courts approved him and his wife’s petition to adopt an orphan named Million from Kibebe Tsehay Orphanage.

The adopting parents applied to the court on January 22, 2019 making the argument that the child will be better off with them. The court approved the adoption in light of the fact that the agreement is in the best interest of the child and confirmed that Million could not give comment on the adoption agreement since his age is under two years.

FANABC reported that Meaza Ashenafi, President of the Supreme Court, sent a congratulatory message to First Lady Zinash and Prime Minister Dr Abiy.

'The decision of First Lady Zinash and Prime Minister Dr Abiy could be a model to other Ethiopians to adopt disadvantaged children' - Meaza Ashenafi Click To Tweet

The prime minister’s wife, Zinash Tayachew, who attended the court in person, said her family will give Million all the needed love and care.

African First Lady Adoptions

The development comes on the back of Zambia’s first lady’s decision to adopt an abandoned month-old baby last December. The baby girl was abandoned by her mother a few days after she was born at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka. Other former first ladies in Africa have also adopted children, including Ghana’s Lordina Mahama and Zimbabwe’s Grace Mugabe.

Ethiopia’s first couple have three children of their own and their decision to adopt Million has been hailed by many people.

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