Tuesday, February 27, 2024

‘That sense of togetherness is what is needed.’ Northeastern entrepreneur from Ghana builds his restaurant business on African hospitality

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Ramzi Yamusah, an ambitious entrepreneur from Ghana, is on a mission to become “the king of African hospitality.”

His company, Lifestyle Experiences Holdings, owns three restaurants in Accra, the capital of Ghana, but Yamusah does not wish to limit himself to the restaurant business or to one continent.

The 2014 Northeastern University graduate wants to better connect the rest of the world to Africa and its more than 1.4 billion people by creating outstanding, memorable experiences both for visitors to the continent and outside of it.

“That sense of togetherness is what is needed [in the world] to really drive collective progress,” he says. “And there’s no better way to share ideas, talk about collaborations, bring positive energy in conversations than over good food and drinks.”

African people find strong grounding in where they’ve built their culture, Yamusah says, in the meaning of their heritage and community.

Ramzi Yamusah, a Northeastern graduate who is building his restaurant and experience business around African hospitality, at a construction site in Ghana. Courtesy Photo

“Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, said ‘I think therefore I am.’ Africans are more about ‘I am because we are,’ or ‘I am related therefore I am,’” Yamusah says. “That philosophy is something that we want to push and spread all around the world where people really see that hospitality is about community.” 

Yamusah says he gets his drive and ambition from his father.

“He has really shown me that it’s not where you start from, but it’s really where you want to see yourself and how you make that happen,” he says.

He also has a close relationship with his mother, who helps him maintain strong values in business, he says.

“When it comes to who you are, how you do business, how you relate to people, maintaining a high level of integrity is very important. And how important your reputation is,” Yamusah says. “It’s things that I really don’t joke with.”

Yamusah, 32, was born in Ghana and attended high school there, but his family also lived for some time in Düsseldorf, Germany, where his father worked for Ghana Airways. He says his upbringing in Germany helped shape him as a person.

“That German culture of discipline is real,” he says, smiling. “African culture of doing business requires a bit more flexibility when it comes to timelines and other things.”

When Yamusah was looking to attend a university in the United States, Northeastern emerged as the clear choice because of its location and signature co-op program. He enrolled in 2010.

“I discovered this love for the city and that really narrowed down my choices,” he says. “Northeastern co-op program was very much the reason why I really wanted to go there and selected it, because it gave me not only the book knowledge, but also practical experience.”

Majoring in biology and minoring in business, Yamusah did his co-op at The Wyss Institute at Harvard University, which develops innovative technologies based on how nature builds things and accelerates their translation into commercial products.

In addition to a top-notch education, he says, Northeastern also helped him connect with people from around the world who he met as a student and continues to do business with.

“You don’t just graduate with a degree, but you graduate with tools that allow you to actually succeed,” he says.

After graduation, Yamusah decided to go into business instead of going to medical school, which was his original plan. He launched a tech startup in Boston offering on-demand valet parking, learned how to fly helicopters and received his commercial pilot license. 

At that point, he had to make another decision—go to med school, work as a commercial helicopter pilot or “upskill” himself to be a better businessman. 

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