This Toronto eyewear entrepreneur's dream of giving back to Ghana is coming into focus

Toronto entrepreneur Nana Boateng Osei spent many years of his childhood living in Ghana, and now he wants help the West African country succeed.

His company, Bôhten Eyewear, uses reclaimed wood from Ghana and he's preparing to hire locals there to make the designer frames. 

"Bôhten Eyewear really is a merge of my ideals of what fashion and nature would be like but also a big part of the brand is about giving back to Ghana."

On Wednesday evening his company is throwing a Kickstarter party to celebrate raising $10,000 for the first phase of setting up a production hub in Sakumono, Ghana.

Osei, who was born in Britain but whose family moved to Ghana when he was five, says the plan is to buy the machines and hire and train five employees in January and and eventually hire a total of 20 staff in Ghana by March. 

By that time, he says, "we'll be able to push about 4,000 units a month."

Bôhten Eyewear

Barklae Zebrawood glasses from the Bôhten Eyewear collection. (Bôhten Eyewear)

Osei said his staff will receive fair wages.

According to figures from 2012 from the World Bank and Global Poverty Working Group,  24 per cent of the Ghana's population is living below or at the poverty line, making less than a $1.90 US a day. 

The minimum wage in Ghana will go up to 9.68 cedis as of January 1 2018, which converts to $2.18 US a day.

Osei said he will pay staff almost double that at $5 US a day, but he is focused on a more significant contribution down the line.

"We want to have an innovation hub for locals. All that the people in Ghana need who have the creative skills and ideas is a platform to be able to innovate and excel with these ideas," he said.

Osei created his company in 2012 and even appeared on CBC's Dragon's Den during its eighth season. He was turned away for not having enough sales.

At the time Kevin O'Leary told him, "look, this isn't going to work. This market is so competitive. Even the segment you're going after is tiny — you are going to zero with this."

Osei proved him wrong and says he continued to find success, estimating that over the last five years his company has made $350,000 in sales.  

His designer glasses have appeared in British GQ and have been worn by Chance the Rapper.

Chance the Rapper

Chance the Rapper tries on a pair of Bôhten designer eyeglasses. (Bôhten Eyewear)

The company's headquarters is in Toronto and has six full-time staff on site.

Osei says, however, the company has not been able to meet the demand and the new production hub will help the company grow. 

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