Welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview with Kofi Maafo, a visionary entrepreneur, and co-founder of Bloom Bar in Accra, Ghana. In this compelling conversation, we delve into Kofi’s extraordinary journey, which began with the establishment of Bloom Bar in 2017, and has since evolved into a cultural phenomenon with a dedicated following and numerous accolades.
Kofi, alongside his lifelong friend and business partner Keith Edem Aweke, embarked on a mission to elevate the nightlife experience in Ghana while simultaneously creating opportunities for careers in the industry.
Their story is not just about drinks and entertainment; it’s a testament to their unwavering commitment to contributing to Ghana’s business development. Kofi’s background spans various industries, from agriculture to fitness, and now, the thriving hospitality scene. This interview provides a unique insight into Kofi’s experiences, educational journey, and the profound impact Bloom Bar has had on Ghana’s nightlife.
Join us as we uncover the insights, challenges, and ambitions of a dynamic entrepreneur whose journey from Accra to the United States is set to shape the future of the hospitality industry.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Kofi Maafo: As one of the founders of Bloom Bar in Accra, Ghana, I, Kofi Adjei Maafo, have been a part of an extraordinary journey since our establishment in 2017. My lifelong friend and business partner, Keith Edem Aweke, and I envisioned a hospitality experience that would not only elevate the nightlife in Ghana but also create opportunities for careers in the industry.
With my background in entrepreneurship and a commitment to contributing to Ghana’s business development, I’ve ventured across various industries, including agriculture, fitness, and hospitality. My educational journey, from obtaining an Executive MBA from the University of Ghana to my upcoming enrollment in Cornell University for an Executive Masters in Hospitality Management, reflects my relentless pursuit of excellence.
Alongside Keith, whose expertise in mixology and culinary management complements my passion for experiential creative direction, we set out to create a bar that would draw upon our global experiences while embracing the rich spirit and culture of Accra. We aimed to make a lasting impact on our customers, employees, and the industry as a whole.
Today, Bloom Bar stands as a cultural phenomenon with a dedicated following and numerous accolades. We’ve not only redefined nightlife but also inspired the next generation of Ghanaian entrepreneurs to embrace the idea that a bar is not just about drinks but about making a positive impact.
We are proud of our nominations at the GEM Hospitality Awards, where we received recognition for “Best Night Life” and “Best Game Changer.” We’re also excited to announce our plans to open a new location in the U.S. as we continue to grow and evolve.
In the past year, what is the greatest business achievement you’d like to celebrate with your team? Please share the details of that success.
Kofi Maafo: If you know Ghana very well then you should know that in 2017, Ghana did not have a lot of young business owners venturing in the space of hospitality – precisely food and beverage. This was mainly due to a stigma of the industry not being prestigious.
A graduate who wants to own a bar or restaurant was not the most respected or esteemed entrepreneurial pathway. But this was due to lack or understanding of the potential of this space. I am extremely proud today because we changed that entire landscape in the country.
Although we weren’t the first young people to try this, we did it with so much planning and precision that it worked out. A few years ago, huge brands like UBER, Mastercard, Telecommunications and even the banking sectors would never consider partnerships with a bar.
We changed that so much that we were on their map as businesses to approach to meet their target audience to sell their products. That is a massive accomplishment because since Bloom Bar, the country has seen the rise of many young people following in the footsteps to setup up bars and create jobs for many.
Bloom Bar played one of the most major roles in what we call Dirty December in Accra Nightlife by giving patrons from all over the world that visited Ghana, the most unforgettable Afro Nightlife experience.
What advice do you wish you had received when you started your business journey and what do you intend on improving in the next quarter?
Kofi Maafo: Surround yourself with professionals and invest in building the right relationships with people who can correlate to your vision for your business growth.
Unfortunately, a lot of mistakes were made because we weren’t surrounded with hospitality professionals. We made a lot of mistakes on the go and in some cases, we made humongous losses on investments that could have been avoided.
In the next quarter we wish to expand into the United States to help us access a pool of professionals who can be brought onboard to make more strategic business decisions.
We also hope to tap into their expertise and create training programs to help elevate Ghanaian business standards while creating a solid career program within the organization.
Here is a two-fold question: What is the book that influenced you the most and how? Please share some life lessons you learned. Now what book have you gifted the most and why?
Kofi Maafo: Curtis Jackson (50 Cent) – Hustle Hard, Hustle Smarter influenced me the most because it spoke to me directly in my journey as an entrepreneur. The author highlights two personalities in this book which apply to me, the street mindset and the educated professional.
Being able to approach business by knowing when to draw each character
out to make decisions is very crucial and that has always been my approach. However, this book enlightened me more as it touched on having a lot of people around you during successful times but being extremely mindful why everyone is around you.
My industry can easily make you feel like having a lot of people around you mean you are doing things right but I’ve experienced the highs and the lows and it’s amazing how people come and go. The more successful you are, the more people find you useful so they tend to draw closer to you.
This book really teaches you have to be mindful of people and manage everyone within your immediate circle.
Business is all about overcoming obstacles and creating opportunities for growth. What do you see as THE real challenge right now?
Kofi Maafo: Breaking through in the American hospitality market. I believe we have a solid business concept and we have done our research. We aren’t just a bar at this point, Bloom Bar became a destination.
The ability to brand and create a space where people view us, as a destination within America that embodies a unique concept of a modern afro-nightlife experiences in itself is a challenge.
The additional challenge is the uniqueness of each state and how they function quite differently. So, with the hope to scale up, once we have some stability and level of success from our first location.
There is a huge challenge of answering questions such as; do we maintain a similar model and hope it works in all states or do we modify the concept for each state.
2020, 2021, and 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Kofi Maafo: 2020 was a special kind of test for every business owner. My greatest lesson from the past as a business owner has been to have a very strategic diversified business portfolio.
I invest across completely different industries taking into consideration how another epidemic can affect my business portfolio. I’m very deeply invested into hospitality but I have my also invested into agriculture and sports.
What does “success” in 2023 mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Kofi Maafo: 2023 truly has been one of the toughest moments in my life as a business man. The economy in Ghana has completely changed the landscape of the Food and Beverage space for the worse. Success for me in 2023 was my ability to predict this economic situation almost two years ago and then I started laying the foundation to open a business in the States.
The idea was one thing but the ability to draw a convincing plan, find the perfect location, meeting the perfect investors, starting construction in a new terrain, researching and drawing strategic plans to break-through and actually seeing all of this happen is more than a success story to me. We made a play that has been extremely tough to execute the timing and the outcome is just perfect.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Kofi Maafo for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Kofi Maafo or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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