He quit a well-paying job in the United States with the objective of creating African-inspired snacks. That’s what brought the Ghanaian-born American, Jamie Saleeby, to his home country in West Africa. He had the burning desire to create snacks that represented the Black food culture.
After saving his seed capital as an executive assistant at a personal care products company, he returned to Ghana in 2017 to establish Sankofa Snacks, an entity that retails assorted plantain chips.
He is optimistic about selling his brand of plantain chips on the American market using e-commerce platforms like Amazon. For now, he believes his business has created a disruption in the sub-region with a boost in sales for his snacks.
His business strategy is inspired by producing snacks that tell an African story of authenticity, Saleeby recounted in one of his media interviews on his success story.
His target market is the diaspora, particularly, the Black community. According to him, he is anticipating putting his products up with big retailers like Target and Whole Foods in the U.S. after making a breakthrough in the diaspora community.
“We intend approaching the big retail centers. We want these African-inspired snacks to be embraced in the underrepresented areas in the U.S.,” he said.
The Sankofa Foods boss said they acquire their raw materials from smallholder farmers in Ghana. According to him, their strong distribution network enables them to export their six varieties of plantain chips to countries in the sub-region.
His brand essence is selling organic African products. His challenge however is the irregular supply of plantain in the lean season. He said the company has to keep the price of the product at what the consumers are used to even when smallholder farmers increase the cost of their produce because of scarcity in the dry season.
Saleeby explained that he covers the losses when there is a spike in the cost of raw materials with savings from the rainy days when plantain is in abundance. He said the way out for Sankofa Snacks is to diversify into small commercial farms to sustain a regular supply of plantains.
He fears his business model will be threatened if he has to rely on smallholder farmers for produce in the lean season.
He has also set his target of taking his product to wider markets in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire as his sales increase by the day.