Get to know Manny Addo. He is the founder of True Shea, a skincare brand making waves in the United States. Originally from Ghana, Addo started his business as a side hustle in 2016 while working in corporate America.
From a humble beginning, Addo worked on his products on nights and weekends and sold them in churches and flea markets before landing a small account at Jungle Jim’s International Market.
Today, True Shea is in over 1,200 Kroger stores; Kroger is America’s largest operator of traditional supermarkets. Addo’s client list also includes Target, Walmart and Amazon. His initial rollout at Kroger included 335 locations, according to Cincinnati Business Courier.
Addo said he ventured into shea because of the high demand for it in the USA. He noted that raw shea nuts are plentiful in his country of birth, adding that he has been importing raw shea from his country since the beginning of his business.
Prior to launching his shea business, Addo worked as a senior financial analyst for General Electric, Fifth Third Bank, Duke Energy, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and JP Morgan Chase. Now a relationship manager at the Economic Community and Development Institute, Addo recently tendered his resignation to focus on his skincare business. The decision is largely due to the growth in sales of the business. Cincinnati Business Courier notes that sales have grown from $10,000 in the first year to $100,000 in the second year to $500,000 in 2022.
Addo reinvested part of the profit in the Ghanaian village of Gnani. In 2022, he partnered with Kroger to invest in a water project in the village. Providing drinking water well in the village, he noted that clean water is often taken for granted in the United States. According to him, he saw children of school going age walking miles to access water while he was living in the village, depicting the challenges the people in Gnani in Ghana’s northern region face in getting clean water.
Addo is scheduled to commission another water project by the end of 2023. “I’m not just donating to any cause. I’ve spent time with these people. They were my neighbors,” he told Cincinnati Business Courier. “I want to do something to change the course. It’s a big part of our mission and our story.”
Addo first arrived in the U.S. from Ghana some 20 years ago with just $600 in his pocket. His mission was to complete his masters at Xavier University. He soon found himself sleeping on floors and almost got dropped from the university due to a lack of funds.
However, perseverance and grace saw him through his challenges. And his entrepreneurial spirit led to the start of True Shea. His product is used for stretch marks, diaper rash, eczema, dry skin, and dermatitis.