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Tropical delights.

Kwaku Kwateng knows his roots. As founder and president of Gold Coast Food Products Inc., a distributor of tropical foods to 17 Pathmark stores in New York and Long Island, Kwateng never forgot where he came from.

Raised on a small commercial farm in Ashanti, Ghana, at the end of the Depression, the 58-year-old Kwateng says that he owes his strong work ethic to his mother. Watching her sell lumber, he recalls, taught him how businesses were run and gave him the entrepreneurial bug.

Now Kwateng, who immigrated to New York in 1960, runs a 6-year-old company that sells more than 16 vegetable and fruit products from different countries in the Caribbean and Central America. The Westbury, N. Y., company imports, among other things, fresh plantains, sweet potatoes, hot peppers and June plums.

Kwateng, a former medical researcher, got into the food business in 1986 when a friend recommended that he speak with a representative of the NAACP's Economic Development Program in East Orange, N.J. (In 1981, the NAACP started The Fair Share Program, which called upon major corporations to reevaluate their commitment to doing business with minority-owned firms.) One phone call later and Kwateng learned that Pathmark had signed on with the NAACP program. To start Gold Coast, Kwateng took out a second mortgage on his house and used $50,000 in personal savings.

Kwateng also works closely with his wife, Jean, the company's bookkeeper and supervises a team of six part-time workers who assist in making deliveries from a Manhattan warehouse. He watched Gold Coast gross $270,000 in sales last year. He expects that number to double this year.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Golden Coast Food Products Inc.
Author:Ward, B.A.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Aug 1, 1992
Words:273
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