Your business structure can make a significant difference in how your company grows over the years. Abena Boamah-Acheampong, winner of our first $10,000 Grant and Mentorship opportunity, is learning that as she converts her body care company, Hanahana Beauty, to a B Corporation.
What is a B Corporation? It’s a company that operates as for-profit, but has a social mission. “Right now we’re a corporation and our social impact is a big push for us,” says Boamah-Acheampong.
Hanahana Beauty, which gets its name from a Twi slang word that means “malleable and smooth.” Twi is spoken in Ghana, the homeland of Boamah-Acheampong’s parents. When she launched the company in 2017, the goal was to provide customers with products made from high-quality shea butter. But then the entrepreneur went to Ghana, where she became acquainted with the Katariga Women's Shea Cooperative.
Though the women work to source shea for other, larger companies, it’s unlikely that anyone else is looking after their well-being quite like Boamah-Acheampong. She created the Hanahana Circle of Care to help healthcare and education for the women. On their first healthcare day, they serviced 90 women. On the second, 300 women and their children got help.
That makes Hanahana a solid contender to qualify as a B Corporation. “Our business plan is about creating access and doing things that a nonprofit would do,” Boamah-Acheampong explains. “As much importance is put on making profit as on making impact. We want to create more profit to impact more people.”
In becoming a B Corporation, Hanahana will have to change its legal governing documents to require its board of directors to balance profit and mission. Why do it? According to this article by Richard Stammer, the senior executive vice president of Cabot Creamery Cooperative, letting customers know about your environmental and social responsibility can be a huge boon for business.
And Boamah-Acheampong is dedicated to growing. She started Hanahana while she was both teaching full-time and in grad school. The company launched as an online store that also did small events, but quickly became her full-time focus. Now she sells her sustainably made body balms, scrubs, and exfoliating bars wholesale, too.
Events have expanded as well. Now they include Yoga + Chill and Beauty + Chill gatherings that allow people to gather for feel-good activities from Brooklyn to London to Accra, Ghana. Sessions simply called Conversations are “like a Ted Talk, but better, bringing women together for discussions on identity and culture.”
Formerly based in Chicago, Boamah-Acheampong now splits her time between the Windy City and Ghana. She’ll trade Chicago for New York City soon.
Like many entrepreneurs, Boamah-Acheampong says that her greatest challenge has been funding. That’s where Hello Alice enters the story. Last month, Hanahana Beauty was chosen from a pool of more than 650 businesses as the winner of our first $10,000 Grant and Mentorship opportunity.
“I am still brimming with inspiration from reviewing hundreds of applications for Alice’s first grant. We looked for purpose, scale and leadership,” Hello Alice co-founder Elizabeth Gore said at the time. “Hanahana Beauty is on the cusp of changing the way we look at beauty and personal care. Abena’s passion for the triple bottom of people, planet, and profit pulled her to the top of the pile. We are honored to welcome her to the Alice family.”
Boamah-Acheampong wasn’t new to Alice. “We started using Hello Alice last year as just a place to find different funding opportunities,” she recalls. “I would say that the newsletter is one of the few newsletters that I actually click.” She goes on to say that Hello Alice has helped to show her how to be an entrepreneur without having a business background.
“It would literally be any topic you’re looking for you, type it in and it’s there. I always share with other entrepreneurs, ‘I think you should look at this.’ People come to me online and say, ‘How did you build your business?’ I don’t have time to tell them. I send them to Hello Alice guides.”
So what does she plan to do with her new funding? Much of it is going toward the accreditation and certification that will help her to prove her case to make Hanahana a B Corporation. “Also, it’s pushing toward our sales strategy and getting actual office space,” she adds. That will allow her and her staff of interns, plus a part-time social media manager, to have a place to call home for Hanahana.
The goal for the next stage of growth for the company will be to get Hanahana's products into 25 stores in four different cities. But Boamah-Acheampong has no plans to stop there. She sees Hanahana as one day going beyond skincare to a full body care business, helping customers with “not just what we put on our body but in our body.” And when the company becomes a household name, you can be sure that its social mission will continue to be front and center.