Just days before our pre-planned trip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, news broke about a cocoa company from the western African nation of Ghana opening a processing plant in Franklin, Wisconsin that would be the largest food and beverage investment by an Africa-based company in the U.S. and the largest foreign direct investment from Ghana in Wisconsin.
Being that this trip was the first time I’d ever been to WI, I didn’t know how far Franklin was from Milwaukee, but it didn’t matter. I told my husband that on the way back home from our trip, we would pass by the location to see it for ourselves, and in some way, capture this historical moment in time with the children. This was an opportunity to dig deeper into the Niche Cocoa story to learn how Mr. Edmund Poku was able to big a well respected and leading cocoa production company.
In all our trips to new places, we scout possible partnerships with restaurants and retailers, do research on the plant-based brands in the area and so much more. But, this added pit stop hit differently.
Why? Good question; I’m glad you asked.
Growing up Ghanaian-American, there were two very distinct sentiments about Africa as a whole. Typically, among my fellow first and second generation Africans living in America or anywhere abroad, we’ve felt that it was a hidden gem that has kept us grounded and excited about life because of our unique and beautiful cultures. We’ve always looked forward to holidays back home. The other sentiment has been the complete opposite of emotions. For many, whose Africa was only by way of media depictions of impoverished villages and children walking on dirt roads without footwear, it was a land where animals roamed wild. I can’t tell you how many questions I got growing up inquiring only about the safari’s in Africa and if I saw lions and giraffes in my backyard.
To hear about a story in mainstream media about what would be the “largest food and beverage investment by an African-based company” coming out of Ghana, West Africa touched my spirit in ways only taking the time to go to the location with my children could express my gratitude.
For me personally, it felt like a breathe of fresh air. This is the power and potential I’ve known about Africa, about Ghana. This is the kind of U.S.-Africa relationship I want to engage in and want my children to respect and understand. This is the narrative about Africa that people should highlight, discuss and pursue, rather than ignorant conversations centered on just safari’s and impoverished communities plaguing the region. While there are evident challenges that still need attention and issues that are still being worked out, it’s important to lead with these kinds of possibilities.
As a food manufacturer based in Detroit, MI, this announcement is inspirational on so many levels. The idea of building a food company that can help foster economic development in two countries is the goal, it’s the dream worth living for daily.
We have a long way to go at The Mushroom Angel Company, but Mr. Poku has shown us that it is possible. For that, we took the time to visit and gather a bit of inspiration to help us on our journey.
The in-person site visit in Franklin, WI was the icing on the cake. Our days are full of non-stop emails, phone calls, business planning, team building, marketing and the list goes on. Whether in our home office or car-office, because everybody knows emails and work does not stop when in the car, it was great to see what’s possible when you persevere through the highs and lows of building a family business.