Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(BLACK BRITAIN) From marriage partners to business partners

From marriage partners to business partners - a couple who made African food a commercial success
Lloyd and Adwoa Mensah-Hagan are an inspirational couple who demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit that has motivated many Africans in the UK to set up in business with their ‘other half.’
Deborah Gabriel

The idea for Jollof Pot, a catering company specialising in food from Ghana came about from the fact that both Adwoa and I really enjoy hosting dinner parties.

Lloyd and Adwoa Mensah-Hagan are an inspirational couple who demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit that has motivated many Africans in the UK to set up in business with their ‘other half.’

Aged just 28 and 29, Lloyd and Adwoa, who recently appeared on the BBC2 show The Restaurant are from Romford in East London and run a catering company called The Jollof Pot, in Hackney. The couple, who are enjoying their own wedded bliss cater for weddings, aniversaries, private parties, birthdays and corporate functions. Adwoa is a self-taught chef who started cooking aged eight. She was brought up on traditional Ghanaian food and East African food and lived in Uganda and Kenya for 10 years with her parents when her father was stationed there.

Lloyd was brought up on a mixture of traditional Ghanaian food and English food. He was born in London and would eat English food at school and Ghanaian food at home. A favourite dish is his mum’s ampesi (a mix of boiled yam, plantain and sweet potato) with grilled red snapper and red stew. The couple have catered for some very high profile customers including TV presenter, June Sarpong, Joe Wright, soul singer Alexander O’Neal and DJ Lisa I’Anson, but like most successful businesses, this has culminated from hard work, dedication and destermination.

Lloyd told Black Enterprise: “The idea for Jollof Pot, a catering company specialising in food from Ghana came about from the fact that both Adwoa and I really enjoy hosting dinner parties. Both Adwoa and myself are of Ghanaian descent, so we had the idea of starting the first mainstream Ghanaian restaurant.” However, when the couple realised the costs involved they decided to put the idea aside, until they eventually began with a market stall in Broadway Market, Hackney, where they sold stews served with plain or Jollof rice.

“The early days were quite challenging as Ghanaian food is not particularly popular, so people were quite reluctant to give it a try,” Lloyd explained. “We had to make an extra effort with our marketing - handing out flyers and offering free samples. This eventually got people to try the food.” Fortunately, most people became repeat customers after their first taste of the food. Keeping the business growing was hard work, as both Lloyd and Adwoa were working full time in IT jobs, but they finally took the plunge after deciding that the only way to grow the business was to devote more time to the project. Lloyd quit his job and the couple opened a second stall at Exmouth Market in Islington and then set about looking for commercial premises.

Lloyd told Black Enterprise: “The business has gone from strength to strength and we now have a third site in Portobello Market and a catering business and are now looking forward to opening our restaurant next year.”

Labels: , ,

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home