Ibrahima by Ginjan Bros

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My brother came to the States at 13 years of age to stay with a host family in Atlanta and get a shot at a better education than he would otherwise get back home in Guinea. However, things did not workout so well. To their surprise, our father was not the wealthy man they thought he was, and since he could not send them more money than what they originally agreed on to take care of him, they decided to kick my brother out of the house at the age of 16. He luckily found his way to another family friend’s home in New Hampshire and finished high school there. He since moved to New York City and alternated work and school for over 8 years to finally get a degree in Business Administration from Mercy College. He did whatever he could to survive, including working for less than minimum wage under the table, working at a carwash, as a security officer, a cab driver, paralegal, translator, etc…

As hard as it was, all these jobs gave him the ability to relate to people from all walks of life, which becomes very handy for any management Team.

I joined him in the the States in 2001, not knowing the ordeal of his previous 4 years. I was 15. I ended up attempting to go to Canada to seek legal status there, due to the relatively easier immigration process of the Canadian government. I however ended up being stopped by U.S border patrol and sent back into the States –– I often joke that I’m the only person I know of that got stopped for wanting to LEAVE the U.S 🙂 –– I think they must have known that I would be a beverage mogul 😉

I spent about a year in a juvenile detention center in Reading, PA while going through immigration courts. It was one of the hardest years’ of my life. I went from living in comfort with my family the year before, to being locked up; my only crime was being born in a different country. This turned out being one of the most formative years of my life. I got to live with folks from every corner of the planet, hear their struggles, get an understanding of their cultures and ways of life, and most importantly, get an appreciation for my place in the world.

I ended up being released into the custody of a wonderful family in Michigan while the court proceedings continued. I finished high school in Michigan and went on to get a degree in Materials Science and engineering with a biomaterials option from Michigan State University. Then went to grad school in Germany and France for a Master’s in Energy related materials, specifically fuel cells. I came back to the States in August 2014.

Bringing us to present day. Having lived through our respective stories to start a business that allows us to share our traditional foods and beverages — the same way many immigrants have done in the past to give us the America we have today — is a story only possible in this country. We feel blessed!