20 Sep Success Meets Hardwork: Kimberly & Priscilla Addison of ’57 Chocolate
Having spent time living in Geneva, Switzerland, Pan-African sisters – Kimberly and Priscilla Addison thought it strange that Switzerland is known for its chocolate but 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. The sisters saw a vast need for manufacturing of chocolate in Ghana and across the continent of Africa. This led the sisters to start ’57 Chocolate, a revolutionary artisanal chocolate business whose mission is to revive Ghana’s 1957 “can do spirit.”
Please tell us about your business.
‘57 Chocolate is the pioneer artisanal bean to bar chocolate manufacturer in Ghana. It was founded in 2016 by two Ghanaian sisters (Kimberly and Priscilla Addison) who want to show the world that quality chocolate can be made in Ghana.
What made you decide to embark on producing these products?
We spent time living in Geneva, Switzerland, and we thought it was strange that Switzerland is known for its chocolate, but 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. There is a vast need for manufacturing 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 this, we were determined to use Ghanaian cocoa to create a high quality African chocolate brand that is reputable locally, internationally, and can compete on the world market.
What influenced your decision to become an entrepreneur?
Cocoa is a major foreign exchange earner for the country. However, very little value is added to the bean itself locally by way of processing into semi-finished or finished products. We became entrepreneurs because we want to help realize Ghana’s potential in chocolate manufacturing. Moreover, there are so many great untapped opportunities in Ghana to start a business by adding value to local natural resources. We became entrepreneurs because we want to bring manufacturing back to Ghana and inspire the youth to create Ghanaian-made products.
To what do you attribute your success?
God: We have been blessed with many incredible opportunities and experiences. We are also extremely grateful to have so many supportive family and friends.
Tenacity: So much time and effort go into making the smallest piece of chocolate. We are determined to succeed, so we work hard and long hours for the business.
Skill & Patience: We began by taking courses on chocolate making and
confections and trained with people in the field. We also did a lot of research and reading about the industry. We developed our chocolate recipes through trial and error and received feedback from family, friends, and strangers who worked within and outside of the chocolate industry. Additionally, our chocolate is handmade and processed from the cocoa bean to the chocolate bar. This undoubtedly takes skill and patience.
Ghanaian Art & Culture: Ghana has an incredibly rich and diverse culture. We love creating products and packaging that are a reflection and celebration of Ghanaian art and culture which makes our chocolate unique, and we are excited about sharing this with the world. Our Adinkra bars are a great example of this. These bite-sized bars are beautifully engraved with Ghanaian symbols, each having a unique meaning meant to inspire. Our packaging also highlights Ghana’s most celebrated monuments and traditional customs.
Lack of capital is often cited as one of the most challenging parts of being an African entrepreneur. How were you able to fund your business?
Our funding stream has been very diverse. We started this business from our own financial savings. We also received financial support from family and friends. We also applied for a small grant from the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme, a Nigerian foundation which supports African entrepreneurs across the continent. Overall, we started small, and have slowly been expanding and re-investing in the company.
What piece of advice would you give to other Africans just starting out?
Since we are co-founders and there are two of us leading the growth of this business, we always recommend having a business partner. We’ve seen the benefit of having two leaders oversee this initiative because there is always someone around to share the workload—and of course the challenges and successes. Additionally, we each have different strengths and skills that complement each other which allow us to focus on certain aspects of the business. For example, Kimberly is apt in quality control, product development and logistics, while Priscilla has a knack for brand development, marketing and sales. If you are unable to find someone as passionate about your line of work, find a friend or mentor who can advise, support, and encourage you to continue on this journey.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made? How did you recover?
We’ve made many mistakes. We’ve learned though not to be too hard on ourselves because these experiences are a process of learning and growth. Initially, everything seems like a big deal at the exact moment the mistake/error occurs, however your biggest mistake can lead to your biggest innovation.