Meet Ms Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah, The Founder Of Ghana’s First And Leading Wine Café.
Ms Nadia Takyiwaa-Mensah is a British-born Ghanaian entrepreneur and the founder of Sai Wine Café. At Sai Wine Café, they bring the wine culture to life by delivering wine experiences to their customers, from food pairing to wine educational events to fun sip and paint events. Sai Wine Café has an intentional focus on wine with the most extensive range of both old and new world wines with differing varietals than any other restaurant in Ghana.
According to Ms Nadia, her staff size of 8 are the driving force behind the lifestyle company. She mentioned that their insight and efficient services keep the business growing and adapting to their customers.
Founded in 2015 and operational in Osu, Greater Accra, Ms Nadia was inspired by the growing middle class to set up Sai Wine Café. “They needed something that would add to their changing lifestyle, which caused me to reflect on when I was growing in my career and the corporate world. Wine became a pivotal point for me, and it was an experience that I realised was necessary and allowed me to be conversant in new spaces,” the founder shared.
“You can’t go to most of these expensive fine dining hotels for a meeting or corporate event and ask for a coke. So the idea was there, and God gave me the conviction and confirmation that I would open Sai Wine Café, which would become my second business in Ghana,” she added.
With its fluid business approach, the Café always thinks about the customer experience and implements methods to enhance that experience. Such fluidity earns the business thousands of customers annually.
“We aim to select wines not on the retail shelves because it doesn’t provide our audience with a ‘unique’ wine experience. There are some fantastic wine distribution companies in Ghana that we work with to ensure we are offering our clients something different. We like to be intentional in our wine selection, and we consider the wines’ vintage, country of origin, grape varietal and brand.”
The founder declares that it has been a great experience thus far; “there have been a lot of kinks in the road and many setbacks because I was aiming to grow too fast, my mind was ready, but the business wasn’t. Hospitality, in general, is a tough industry to operate in, so you have to have some real skin in the game to make it successful and keep the business relevant and growing.”
“Because Sai Wine Café is not my only business, I have a very long and busy day. I often start work at 6 am and go to bed around midnight — because I realised that I am most productive before my staff come into work and after they leave.”
Speaking on challenges, Ms Nadia mentioned that financing, positioning, training and retaining human resource were major hurdles the business have had to deal with over the years.
“I had to review the prices we were charging and look at sourcing local goods to help increase our bottom line. I also took on board two investors who injected revenue into the business. We were always meant to serve the Ghanaian middle class primarily, but when we opened, everybody thought it was a new destination for ex-pats and foreign visitors, which was far from the truth. So when we received this insight, we started to strip down some of the fancifulness, which seemed intimidating and started turning up in spaces where our audience were.” Ms Nadia elaborated.
“I have become more intentional now about who we employ. Before, I took anybody in and trained them. But now, I have learned to pause with these things and build the team block by block whilst instilling company culture and giving them some power to make decisions and take responsibility. Presently, I have a good team. Still, I want them to be excellent, and it is a slow journey. I am very passionate about the development of my team, and I would like nothing better than to see them grow. So I often throw new responsibilities outside of waiting for staff to expand their mind and scope. Sometimes it works, and they get it; sometimes it backfires, and it can be frustrating, but we keep moving.”
Ms Nadia shares with DT Africa that ultimately the company will open a wine mansion in Aburi where people can visit, enjoy wines from the world in the mountains, its great food and relax by the pond or on the greens.