A women empties a bucket of shea nuts.

Traveling With Purpose: How Abena Boamah Connects With Her Roots


Dec. 17 2023, Published 6:12 p.m. ET

Recently, many black women are venturing into the beauty industry, but few have created products targeting black women. Abena Boamah, a Ghanaian- American business woman is changing this narrative. She is creating beauty products ranging from moisturizing lip bums to exfoliating cleansers targeting black skin.

Abena sources the raw material for her products (Shea Butter) from Ghana, where she also supports the women who produce it. She regularly travels between Ghana and the United States, and her trips have influenced her work and company ethos in different ways.

Empowering The Producers of Shea Butter

During Abena Boamah's travels to Ghana, she regularly checks in with the shea producers. On her first trip to source for Shea, one thing that struck her nerve was how the women producing the raw material were underpaid. To empower them, she offered to double their asking price. Boamah admits that the reason for doing this was to help the women and their cooperatives to grow. By doing so, she was upholding her company's mission to help sustain the people who are sustaining Hanahana beauty.

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The need to ensure women producers get better pay and that they can easily access quality healthcare led her to create the Circle of Care. Under this initiative, Boamah works with over 20 medical professionals who visit the shea-producing communities for medical check-ups. On the first two days of its launch, the team of doctors has helped over 390 women and children.

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A Great Tool For Telling the Brand's Story

While growing up in Ghana, Abena associated cleanliness with being moisturized, as her parents insisted that she moisturizes before going to school. This is part of the reasons that inspired her to venture into the beauty business. While starting the business, she wanted to build it around a story that would stand out, so she placed major emphasis on social responsibility.

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This is evident from the company website's photographs and videos showcasing Abena and the women groups involved in producing shea butter. One of the videos that enhances the brand's authenticity is when Abena was first introduced to the Katariga Women's Shea Cooperative. It details Abena's journey leaving her home to the shea producing region north of the country. In the video, she has conversations with her driver Paa, where she shares with him her vision of telling stories about women making it through her brand.

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Helping to Improve the Quality of Shea Butter

Hanahana Beauty is committed to producing high-quality products, and Abena is sticking to this mission by streamlining the processing of raw materials. When she sourced Shea for the first time, she noticed that the raw material wasn't of high quality. To help speed up the shea-making process and improve its quality, she gave Katargia Cooperative a kneading machine. The machine also helped to alleviate the manual process of shea kneading, allowing the producers to have good health.

Selling A Brand Through Travel Experiences

Abena Boamah's story of using travel to make her brand stand out is quite a unique selling point. But sharing how she has helped women groups double their wages, makes her products attractive to customers. Given the company’s focus on providing quality products to customers, Boamah has ensured that the women groups extract quality shea by providing them with modern equipment.

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