Hannah Frimpong has always loved baking and being at the center of the art and organisation of events, but when she was about to head over to university for her undergraduate studies, she wasn’t sure what to pursue. Her dad convinced her to study law, for the versatility it offers, so law it was. After graduating and fulfilling her National Service duties, Hannah got a job that she lasted at for only a week, because the entrepreneur in her just wanted to get started with the ideas she had been holding within her. Swoon Confectionery was the first of those ideas.
Did you feel any pressures from your family when you decided to start out on an entrepreneurial path right after national service?
Oh yeah — a lot! In the beginning, they weren’t happy with it at all. My dad used to tell me a whole bunch of stuff at the beginning — he obviously wasn’t happy with the decision. His major concern was job security. I had to convince him and everyone else for a while, and they eventually understood my reasons. I don’t think there is a going back at this point.
Was that big jump your first step into entrepreneurship?
Well, baking was a hobby for me when I was in school, which ended up becoming a side gig, bringing in some extra income. I used to bake with my mum when I was much younger, so when I decided to revisit it in school, I purchased a small toaster oven and got some baking equipment to help me start out with making cupcakes. I figured Valentine’s Day would be a good time to launch out, so I informed people I knew and made some cupcakes to sell. That turned out pretty well. I kept juggling the cake business along with school work till I graduated. I did have some on and off seasons though.
Did the ecosystem at KNUST influence your desire to become an entrepreneur?
Honestly, I was kind of oblivious to entrepreneurship as a concept while I was in KNUST. All my pursuits were purely born out of the desires and passions I had, not necessarily with a focus on entrepreneurship as a concept. But I do have some other entrepreneurs who I got to meet from KNUST who have inspired me over the years. I would mention Fiifi Quaye of Rex Associates and Nii Quansah of CedarCoco. They both have their unique strengths and qualities.
Fiifi is very determined, and his determination forges me on to be more determined. He started with entrepreneurship very early. After graduating with a degree in actuarial science, he decided to put aside working towards a career path in that sector to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams. I find a lot of inspiration whenever I look at what he has achieved by far.
Nii Quansah’s CedarCoco focuses on making coconut milk, but he has put a nice twist on his style of entrepreneurship ensuring that he doesn’t only focus on his company, but also on how he can impact other young entrepreneurs. He looks past what his business is for and goes out of his way to offer value that impacts lives. He always reminds me that there’s something bigger to strive for.
Do you think Ghana’s startup policies are favourable for young entrepreneurs?
To be very honest, I have no idea about the startup policies in Ghana. Sometimes, some of these things make me feel I am not a real entrepreneur. Should I be looking at these things? Hahaha… Maybe I should be looking more closely at those.
How do you find what you are doing adding up to innovation in the industry you are operating within?
For the cake industry, I find that there is a lot of copying. I am not sure whether that comes from when people go and study from a school and then pick up the style and art from that school. I am to a large extent self-taught, so that has helped me niche out my own style. I have particular designs that I want to pursue, and ideas that I experiment with. If every caterer or baker could stay true to themselves, there would be much less monotony, especially with the design of cakes.
Have you had any mentors or advisors in your journey?
Not so many, but I would mention Gloria Buckman — I met her at an event and what she taught me has helped me greatly in running my business.
Do you have any final words?
Chasing your dreams can be expensive. The entrepreneurial spirit is very strong and once you have it, you don’t want to leave it. But you need to know that it is expensive and at the end gets to be rewarding. I haven’t been on this journey for so long, but I can tell that it will be rewarding at the end. Definitely, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It is a fad now, but it honestly isn’t for everyone. Find and know what you were made for and follow that track.
Stay true to yourself — once you do that, everything will line up for you.
Nominate one person for me to interview.