People from all over Africa have cherished the mysterious baobab tree. It grows in 32 African countries and is said to live for up to 5,000 years. Yes, 5,000 years. It is known as the symbol of life. It is a succulent plant, which means during the rainy season, it absorbs and stores water in its vast trunk, enabling it to produce a nutrient-dense fruit in the dry season. That is why it is known as “The Tree of Life”, and it is indeed providing a means of livelihood for many. Read on as Salomey shares her story of how she uses the baobab to make ice cream with the B&FT’s Inspiring Start-ups.
Salomey Ankrah, though fully Ghanaian, grew up mostly in Togo. She is a product of the Ola Girls Senior High School where she completed in 2009. From there, she enrolled at IPMC and graduated with an advanced Diploma in Graphic and Web Design in 2015.
As usual, she began the hunt for a job, which proved difficult. So, she engaged in some petty trading. Later, she got a job as a Quality Control Manager of a café at Labone, a suburb of Accra.
While working at the café, Salomey attended a wedding programme that changed the direction of her life forever.
The Tiki Bar Baobab ice cream is born
It was her cousin’s wedding and she was served with a drink made from baobab fruit. The taste made her recall when one of her aunt’s used to prepare some for the family of which she enjoyed. After the wedding, the idea of going commercial with the drink kept ringing in her mind. But she could not implement it at the café where she worked since she had limited control over there. She, therefore, decided to quit the job and start her own business.
Salomey, however, wanted to do something unique with the baobab fruit. So, rather than make a drink from it, as is common, she decided to make an ice cream.
With the help of the internet, she read wide on the recipes and upgraded her knowledge on how to make ice cream. Then, with the little savings and support from her mother, she started her business with GH¢100, making monthly sales of about GH¢600. Today, two years after starting the business, she has six flavours — Tropical, Choc Oreo, Soursop, Mix Berries, Rum Raisin, coconut, and makes sales of more than GH¢3000 monthly.
What makes Tiki Bar ice cream unique?
Tiki Bar Baobab ice cream is unique for several reasons. One is the health benefits. The baobab fruit is known for possessing ingredients that aid in checking weight. It also glows the skin, aids in hair growth and slows ageing. So, for an ice cream to be made from the baobab fruit should tell you of the health benefits it comes with.
The Tiki Bar ice cream is also dairy-free as she uses a plant-based creamer – soy – to make it. All the flavours are also from natural fruits — soursop, berries, pineapple, banana, mango, and passion fruit — and have no artificial additives and preservatives.
Her main strategy for marketing is selling at events; referrals from clients; and through orders. Others also contact her on Instagram using the account Tiki Bar.
In the next three to five years, Salomey has the vision of making her products available in every supermarket in the country, whilst giving jobs to more people than the three she currently employs.
Salomey encountered a usual challenge that many young entrepreneurs face at the beginning of their businesses, which nearly made her give up. People initially didn’t accept her business idea as it was new to the market.
“The beginning is always the toughest, but I have been able to sail through. I nearly gave up in December, 2016, because people were not accepting it. It was difficult trying to get people to buy into it. I remember calling my mum and telling her I want to fold up because people were not patronising the ice cream.”
How education has helped
Even though she didn’t really study food and nutrition in school, her design background has made her creative. She has introduced innovative ideas that have helped her in making the ice cream better than she started with.
Again, education has made her appreciate the value of reading wide and researching on a recipe before she introduces it onto the market.
The importance of empowering women economically
“Women make more impact in the family, community and country when they are economically empowered. So, I think it is very important for every woman to work and gain some income.”
How government should support
For Salomey, one way government can help entrepreneurs, especially startups, is to support them with funding and also create a favourable business environment to make doing business in the country easy.
Advice to the youth
Salomey wants the youth to be ambitious in whatever field they find themselves. They shouldn’t relax in their work but put in all efforts needed to achieve success, she says.
Source: Nerteley Nettey/thebft.com