On a mission to show the world that quality chocolate can be produced in Ghana where some of the finest cacao beans grow, sisters Kimberly and Priscilla Addison created ’57 Chocolate. This growing business and brand is inspiring not only a generation of aspirant future chocolatiers in the country, but also the tastebuds of the world’s chocolate lovers.
LoA chatted to these passionate and enterprising sisters about their vision for ’57 Chocolate and for their country’s economic development through the lengthening of the cacao value chain in Africa.
What does your company do?
'57 Chocolate is the pioneer artisanal bean to bar chocolate manufacturer in Ghana defined by creativity and luxury. It was founded in 2016 by two Ghanaian sisters (Kimberly and Priscilla) who wanted to show that quality chocolate can be made in Ghana. 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 became an independent country, but it was 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. From 1957 onwards, the country saw a massive boom in its industrial infrastructure and products. Ghanaians were creating and developing their own industries and products. Ghana’s independence in 1957 led to the creation of industries like Wenchi Tomato Factory, Akosombo Textiles Limited, and Bolgatanga Rice Mills etc. The name ‘57 is meant to inspire a reawakening of Ghana’s 1957 “can do spirit”. It is a call to action 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 highest value.
"‘57 Chocolate aims to inspire the people of Ghana, especially the youth to create and develop made in Ghana products of highest value."
What inspired you to start your company?
Having spent time living in Geneva, Switzerland, 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. We saw 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 all of 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.
Why should anyone use your service or product?
At ‘57 Chocolate we take dried cocoa beans and process them into luxurious chocolate and confections. Most importantly, our chocolate is handmade in small batches, rich in cocoa, and made without any artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. As part of the process of ensuring that our chocolate is of high quality, cocoa is always the first and main ingredient in our dark and milk chocolates, as opposed to sugar which is listed first in many other brands. Our chocolate challenges the status quo of luxury chocolate being only a product of Europe. What’s most unique about our business is that we produce chocolate that is a reflection of Ghanaian art and culture, particularly through our Adinkra bars. These bite sized bars are beautifully engraved with symbols, with each symbol having a unique meaning We must emphasize that ‘57 Chocolate is not just about the chocolate or cocoa products. It is about patriotism and value addition. Our vision is to start local and ultimately make our products available world-wide. Over time, we aspire to create an internationally recognized chocolate brand based in Ghana with world-wide distributors.
Currently, we have 5 signature flavors: 73 percent dark chocolate, 55 percent milk, white, mocha latte (coffee flavor) and bissap (hibiscus flavor). We pair our chocolates with various ingredients like coconut and sea salt. For a complete list of our products, please visit our website. Other services we provide include customized chocolate favors for social and corporate events and chocolate pairings/tastings for groups.
"Ghana is the second largest producer of cocoa but produces very little chocolate itself. We saw a vast need for manufacturing chocolate in Ghana and across the continent of Africa."
Tell us a little about your team
We currently employ 7 people, mostly young women. We hope to continue to expand our team as the business grows. Please find the bios of the Co-Founders Kimberly and Priscilla below.
Kimberly Addison, Co-Founder of ‘57 Chocolate is a graduate of Boston College’s arts and sciences program located in the United States. At Boston College she obtained a Bachelors of Arts in French and International Studies, with a concentration in Social Justice. At ’57 Chocolate she oversees production, quality control, and leads recipe development.
Priscilla Addison, Co-Founder ‘57 Chocolate is a graduate of New York University’s (NYU) Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, where she obtained a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) with a specialization in International Development. Not only does she serve as co-chef, she brings her marketing and communications expertise to this venture.
Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
We started the company before we even had a name for it. We began pursuing the idea of chocolate manufacturing in 2014. 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. We reached out to people already working in the industry to seek advice. Our first batch of chocolate was produced in 2016.
We do have entrepreneurial roots in our family. Our grandparents owned businesses and our mom started her own business in Ghana when she was just 18 years old.
Left: Kimberley Addison pitches '57 Chocolate at Lionesses of Africa's 'Start-up Night! Africa' event in London, April 2018.
"Our chocolate challenges the status quo of luxury chocolate being only a product of Europe."
"What’s most unique about our business is that we produce chocolate that is a reflection of Ghanaian art and culture, particularly through our Adinkra bars."
What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?
Over the long-term, we aim to create an African chocolate brand that is known world-wide, but most importantly one that surpasses our lifetime. We are working towards having our chocolate sold across the continent of Africa and around the globe. We hope for our chocolate to continue to reflect and build upon the unique traditions and culture that makes us call Ghana and the African continent, home! We hope that ‘57 Chocolate inspires people from Ghana, and across the continent especially the youth, to create, develop, and consume made in Africa products.
What gives you the most satisfaction being an entrepreneur?
We love seeing the joy our chocolate brings to our clients, knowing that we are adding value to a unique resource right at home. Many people thought this would be impossible to achieve. What is also most satisfying is 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. We hope to begin exporting our chocolate soon.
Our chocolate is well traveled. Our amazing customers have taken our chocolates to countries such as, Japan, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, Brazil, France, South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Hong Kong, Ukraine, Russia, the United States and many others.
"We hope that ‘57 Chocolate inspires people from Ghana, and across the continent especially the youth, to create, develop, and consume made in Africa products."
What's the biggest piece of advice you can give to other women looking to start-up?
It is important to know and understand the factors that can either benefit or hurt the operations of your business. There is a saying that goes: knowing your customer is paramount for business success. While this is true, we also believe knowing the environment where you work is of equal importance.
We believe it is a great time to be an African. Africans and Africans in the Diaspora are showing the world that the continent has an incredible amount of potential, worth and creativity. Entrepreneurs, change makers, and bloggers are writing a positive narrative for the continent—contrary to how the global media normally portrays the continent, with typical depictions of abject poverty and civil war. We encourage the African youth to actively participate in contributing to this positive narrative.
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Why LoA loves it…..
If Africa is going to positively change its economic future for the better, it needs to harness the power of its natural resources and process world class products that celebrate those resources, and which can be enjoyed on the continent and globally. Kim and Priscilla Addison are two pioneering entrepreneurs who understand this philosophy and who are bringing a solution to the table through their chocolate manufacturing business, taking a bean to bar approach to ensure that everyone along the value chain benefits. They are an inspiration to others who aspire to follow in their footsteps and build proudly African chocolate brands for the world to enjoy. --- Melanie Hawken, founder and editor-in-chief of Lionesses of Africa