When a rabbi boarded a plane from Israel to Ghana in 2016, it was a journey that would change the fortunes of an entrepreneur who had set his sights on creating a coconut products company. At the time, Michael Annan-Forson, CEO of Melach Coconut Processing Farm, had advertised coconut oil that was made in his kitchen on the networking website LinkedIn.
A businessman in Jerusalem reached out to the Ghanaian entrepreneur, requesting a sample. Impressed with the quality of the oil, he asked Annan-Forson if he could manufacture six tonnes and send it to Israel.
The entrepreneur, who had only made coconut oil on a small scale, accepted the order and set about figuring out how to ramp up production. He was paid USD 35,000 upfront by the Israeli businessman to fast-track the process.
“The man sent me the whole amount without even knowing if I was authentic or not. I had to pack up everything in my flat in Accra and move to Kumasi in the Ashanti region where I was able to rent a factory space and purchase a small grinding machine,” says Annan-Forson.
He was able to complete the order in only seven days, processing the coconuts quicker than expected. The rabbi was sent to Kumasi to certify if the oil met the kosher standards of the Jewish religion.