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Business News of Thursday, 26 January 2017

Source: classfmonline.com

From banking to selling pie - The Adinkra story

Barima Osei Mensah Director of Adinkra Pastries

The Director of Adinkra Pastries, Barima Osei Mensah, who employs over 800 workers, has said he challenged Ghanaians and proved that “living abroad does not guarantee success”.

Mr Mensah, who was a guest on Class FM’s Executive Breakfast Show, recounted his resolve to establish his own business and quit his job as a Personal Banker at the Bank of America to return home to start his own business.

He did not give up on his dreams in the face of ridicule by peers and challenges after travelling back to Ghana, having lived more than 18 years in the US, to establish a pastry company.

In an interview with Moro Awudu on Thursday, January 26, Mr Mensah, who is in his early 40s and holds an Executive Master’s in Business Administration (EMBA) from the University of Texas, said he developed the interest in selling at age 12 when he prepared pastries and sold to his mates at school.

The businessman, who travelled to the US over 20 years ago at age 19, explained that his interest in food motivated him to work at Roy Rogers, a fast food restaurant in Maryland.

He later worked with Bruegger’s Bagels as a baker and, after eight years in the fast food business, decided to enrol for a business programme at Montgomery College.

He proceeded to study at the Temple University in Philadelphia and graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

Mr Mensah worked for the Bank of America. He later resigned from his job and returned to Ghana to start his own firm.

Asked by the host why he left a job most Ghanaians would regard as a dream job, Mr Mensah said: “I got tired living in the US and came to Ghana to make a difference. It is more of stages in life. Sometimes when you get there, you will understand. The idea of working two jobs sometimes to pay your bills and all that is challenging. Sometimes you want to put up a home and the whole stress before you get there is a big challenge. When you come home and see what you have at home then you feel like taking the opportunity. There are a lot of things that you can do here to break through without deciding to go and live abroad.”

He explained that his initial plan was to produce class rings, graduation rings engraved with one’s school, graduation year, name, and other information.

He indicated that they were popular in the US, something he felt he could replicate in Ghana, “but it did not take off”.

“I made a lot of effort but because it’s not our culture, it was difficult for people to buy into the idea,” he said of the failed ring business.

According to him, his next option was “to try something else, which was a restaurant in 2011 at Kumasi, but it was not doing so well so I decided to start a pastries outlet in front of it with the hope that it would be able to attract people to the restaurant”, adding: “When we started with the pastries, I used to go to the market to sell myself with some boys. During that stage people were laughing at me, some family members did not support the idea because I was going to the market to sell. It really didn’t bother me because I knew what I was aiming at. I was focused.”

Mr Mensah outlined his challenges of raising the needed capital to support his business, adding: “I sold my property, my lands – about three [plots]. I even sold my flat screen television to raise capital. I also went to the bank to borrow. Raising the funds to start was the major challenge.”

Mr Mensah admonished all individuals who wish to own businesses to have a “leadership spirit in order to lead”.

Despite losing millions of cedis, the entrepreneur said he pursued his business ambition with the conviction that “winners never quit and quitters never win” and urged: “You have to keep trying until you get there.”

He was of the view that “if you want to do business, you should look at what you can do and do well”. He continued: “In my case it was cooking, which comes to me naturally, hence the restaurant and pastries.”

Currently, Adinkra Pastries has extended operations to Swedru, Winneba, Koforidua, Asamankese, Kade, Takoradi, and Cape Coast in addition to Accra and Kumasi.

The 42-year-old product of Ashtown Nursery, Ashtown L/A Primary School, Cambridge International School, T.I Ahmadiyya JHS, and Kumasi Academy has a daughter but remains single.

Mr Mensah has aspirations of establishing assorted pastries outlets across the country in the next few years.