Born and raised in Ghana, Nana Kwamena Takyi-Micah has long held an interest in business and entrepreneurship. It’s what prompted his move to the United States over a decade ago, setting him on a path to become an entrepreneur himself.
The idea for his business came about when Takyi-Micah was an undergraduate student at Hiram College studying management with a minor in entrepreneurship. He realized early on there was a lack of African food products in the local grocery stores, and he was eager to change that.
“I missed products from home,” he said. “In a small college town I didn’t have the transportation to get to any nearby stores that sold African food products.”
In August of 2011, Takyi-Micah was selected by his professor to participate in the Entrepreneurship Immersion Week at Ashland University.
“That was a lightbulb moment,” he said. “I realized if I launched a business that offered African food products, it would be readily available to anybody.”
Takyi-Micah pitched this business idea at the week-long competition, and although he didn’t win, he was inspired to continue pursuing his idea.
In 2014, Takyi-Micah launched Micah Specialty Foods, which manufactures Ghana Supreme Sauce, a recipe from his mother in Ghana. The sauce is a versatile tomato-based product that can be used as a salsa, a marinara or a cocktail sauce, among other uses.
“It’s something I eat every day,” he said. “You can use it as a marinade or finishing sauce for different types of meat, like chicken or lamb, and sauteing vegetables with the sauce is popular too.”
At first, his sauce was being sold solely in mom-and-pop stores and at farmer’s markets. This changed a little over a year ago, as it made its way onto shelves at Giant Eagle Market District and ACME Fresh Markets in the Northeast Ohio region. Just a few months ago, his sauce also started being sold at Heinen’s Grocery Stores and Dave’s Markets. And it can now be shipped nationally and internationally on Amazon and on the Micah Specialty Foods website.
“Business is growing at this point. We would like to expand and add new product lines,” Takyi-Micah said, noting a line of beverages will be launching soon.
He has received numerous awards for his Ghana Supreme Sauce, including the Small Business Community Champion Award by Citizens Bank in 2022 and the Buckeye’s Best Competition Award by Acme Fresh Market in 2021.
While running Micah Specialty Foods, Takyi-Micah is also an inside sales representative for Progressive Insurance and in the part-time MBA program at Weatherhead School.
“I like the rigorous educational curriculum which provides me with the tools to succeed in the corporate world and also in business,” he said about Weatherhead. “I also like the solid alumni network that helps and supports people.”
Takyi-Micah is expected to graduate from the program in 2024. Upon graduation, he plans to raise enough capital to continue to expand his business and set up a Micah Specialty Foods manufacturing company in Ghana.