In case you purchase by our hyperlinks, we might earn cash from affiliate companions. Learn more.
Kwamena Cudjoe immigrated to the US from Ghana within the 1970s; he was later joined by his spouse, Penelope Cudjoe. Kwamena spent most of his profession working as a college professor after which as a world relations officer for the federal authorities.
When he first began working within the US, he did not know a lot concerning the types of retirement plans he might get by his employer. As an immigrant, lots of the monetary methods within the US have been far completely different from these of his residence nation. He needed to find out about ideas associated to retirement planning and insurance coverage insurance policies by trial and error and from his colleagues.
“Making contributions to your individual pension fund, I did not perceive it. I did not have an concept that that is what is going on. Some colleagues, mates, professors began educating me, giving me some concepts on the best way to contribute to that,” Kwamena informed Insider.
Kwamena ultimately heard a couple of tax-advantaged retirement account called a Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) that was provided by his employer. The account is similar to a 401(k) however for federal staff and uniformed service personnel. He thought it could be an effective way for him to economize in order that he might construct a house in Ghana sometime. The primary 12 months, he started by contributing 7% of his salary to the fund. By the third 12 months, he was maxing out his contributions.
What he did not notice was that in the future, in 2015, that fund would assist him and his spouse flip their love of cooking West African meals into an organization of their retirement years. At present, they personal Amac Foods, which sells packaged jollof rice. The model might be discovered on Amazon and at some Entire Meals areas.
“My complete thought of contributing to the TSP was to save lots of sufficient to go and construct a home in Ghana. Now that I am right here, my pondering was if I construct a enterprise and the enterprise turns into profitable, I can construct the home I would like in Ghana,” Kwamena mentioned.
Under, the couple shares how they dealt with cash throughout retirement and the way Kwamena’s TSP helped them begin a brand new journey into entrepreneurship.
A retirement fund meant getting access to money
The couple did not wish to take out any loans from a financial institution or owe a provider any cash. Having a lump sum of money that Kwamena thought of his personal made him really feel snug sufficient to take the preliminary steps to fund the enterprise.
By the identical token, the couple knew they have been taking a threat with their very own cash, in order that they needed to scale their enterprise slowly and steadily with out over spending.
They began with $3,000 from their financial savings account
Step one was a take a look at section, and it needed to be accomplished utilizing a finances they may afford to spend out of pocket. They positioned a producer who might produce their recipe and package deal their product at an affordable worth. As soon as they have been assured with the provider, they proceeded to withdraw $3,000 from their financial savings account, in line with paperwork seen by Insider.
They began with 500 kilos of rice for every recipe, which was the minimal the provider would settle for. Altogether, they’d three recipes totaling 1,500 kilos. They allotted the rest of the cash for printing posters, flyers, and promoting supplies for the product launch.
Then, they regarded free of charge methods to market their product. The couple took their rice to native farmer’s markets, neighborhood occasions, and African grocery shops within the Washington, DC space. Inside three months, they’d offered their first batch.
As soon as they bought the hold of it, they have been snug sufficient to dig into their retirement fund
When the demand for his or her rice started to select up, they wanted to make an enormous order that required extra funds. Kwamena was in a position to withdraw over $30,000 from his TSP, in line with monetary data seen by Insider. The cash allowed them to provide 10,000 kilos of their jollof rice recipe.
They have been now additionally in a position to spend on style exams, which they arrange at particular person shops. They printed extra flyers and will pay for the price of transportation from the manufacturing unit, in addition to deliveries of their product to shops.
As a result of they both had Social Security, and Penelope additionally had a 401(okay) from her years of employment, the couple felt snug utilizing a few of Kwamena’s funds as start-up cash.
“I’m blissful that I did it. Simply contribute [to your retirement fund] as a result of that may power you to have the self-discipline to save lots of. That, I’ll at all times advise any immigrant or any native particular person,” Kwamena mentioned.
They grew their model by tapping into free sources
There have been alternatives alongside the best way the place they may have paid extra cash to promote their product or get it into extra grocery shops, however they determined towards it. Kwamena and Penelope continued to push their product by phrase of mouth and native shops.
They ultimately got here throughout Market 7, a assist useful resource for Black-owned companies within the Washington, DC space. The group assisted them with getting their product in entrance of Entire Meals, freed from cost. This chance helped them land a deal to provide their jollof rice to among the chain’s areas.
“We’re working like we’re younger. We’re working like we simply began life. So there is not any age for anyone to see their desires,” Penelope mentioned. “We had a household of six children; that was a part of the explanation why we needed to put a cease or [didn’t] have cash to spend. It is one of many the reason why we could not go forward with the dream, children and faculty and all the things. In retirement, we’re empty nested; that is our child.”