The Managing Director of AA Food and Beverages in Ghana, Pearl Naheema Hanson, is a 2005 graduate of University of Manchester with a Bachelor of Science [Honours] in Chemistry, with Business and Management.
Her wish has always been to start her own business back in Ghana, and so she visited home often to assist her mother in her wholesale and retail business in cosmetics, ladies’ handbags and suitcases in Accra.
She finally returned to Ghana in 2016 after training in distilling alcohol in Liverpool.
“My partners and I wanted to produce premium spirits to match those produced in the UK for a good price, at a time the government wanted to help young entrepreneurs to start their own businesses,” Pearl stated.
With a modest beginning, Pearl set up her own laboratory at home at East Legon in Accra, to produce all the ingredients needed to start two products – the pouched 250 ml Spice Rum, which is an upgrade of the local gin in the market, and the bottled Sahara Solace, a butterscotch schnapps flavoured liqueur.
In 2017, AA Food and Beverages took off in earnest with Pearl in control. Before long, one of the company’s products, Sahara Solace, was adjudged the ‘New Beverage of the Year’ at the Ghana Beverage Awards in Ghana.
The company was among the exhibitors at the Ghana Investments and Opportunities Summit held in London in January 2020 and most recently in Lagos, Nigeria.
“Already, the future for our business, locally and internationally looks so bright and we will soon introduce other products,” she said.
She admits that her success story did not come on a platter of gold, the single mother of two is very proud of her hometown Kwahu-Akwasiho and always proud to tell anyone that cares to listen that she was born into a family of entrepreneurs.
Pearl comes from a strong lineage of entrepreneurs; her mother is a smart businesswoman with decades of experience as the owner of Vidal Bags at Georgina Stores in Accra; grandmother was a big-time trader at Makola at the Central Business District and her grand uncle, Joshua Siaw, was a former Managing Director of Tata Brewery.
‘’So, it runs in the family, and I am thankful to my mother for supporting all my business endeavours’’.
This awareness has enabled Pearl to play her roles well as a mother and an industrialist.
She noted that the acceptability of her products have paved the way for more investment opportunities as her company; AA Food and Beverages is registered with the Association of Ghana Industries [AGI] and Ghana Export Promotion Authority [GEPA]; and they are export ready; as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA], to take advantage of the single market across Africa.
Sahara Solace Butterscotch Schnapps Liqueur and Spice Rum are excellently packaged to clearly distinguish them from other products in the market and have all become the choice of guests at cocktails, funerals, weddings, and other social gatherings across Ghana.
Pearl is also hopeful that her products will one day find their way into West Africa and other African markets where they will be options in both quality and variety.