Local entrepreneur pays homage to her heritage.
Tashie George is in the business of finding solutions. The Liberian-born, New York-raised Plymouth resident has created change in each of her communities through IFRI LLC. Her ever-evolving company looks to bridge the gap between Africa and the African diaspora in the U.S. and empower both communities. “It’s not often that we see folks that look like us going beyond, achieving things that are thought of as unachievable,” George says. “It’s important to be strong. It’s important to be consistent and persistent to show our community that you can do it.”
George’s actions back up her stance. In the wake of the Ebola epidemic and her father’s death, her online platform, IFRI-Mart, supported the distribution of African food products in Liberia, helping people in the diaspora to support loved ones through food deliveries. When larger companies came in to offer the same service, George pivoted and began to distribute African products in the U.S.
She soon realized that many of the companies she was supporting and marketing were profiting off of a community they did not give back to. George immediately shut down her website. “I said, ‘I’m going to break the cycle, I’m going to break this chain … I’m going to create my own line of products made in Africa,’” she says. After returning to Liberia in 2020 for the first time since childhood, she discovered her path in a beverage beloved by her family and community: ginger beer.
George’s Mandingo-Grebo ginger beer will be available in both alcoholic and nonalcoholic varieties. The name is an homage to her parents’ tribes; her father’s, the Mandingo of Guinea, and her mother’s, the Grebo of Liberia. “That’s the make-up of me. That’s who I am,” George says. “The logo is a cartoon character of my face, but the eye is the connection of the map of Guinea and the map of Liberia, which is my parents connecting me together, giving me the vision to see further.”
When she’s not working on Mandingo-Grebo, George spends her time mentoring others in her community. Her initiative IFRI-TRYV supports women entrepreneurs in Liberia through business incubator training and grants. She hosts the annual BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) Business Expo in Minneapolis, manages the Hennepin County Elevate Business program and was appointed by governor Tim Walz to the State of Minnesota Emerging Entrepreneur Board in August 2022. “I feel like if you can make a difference in one person’s life everyday, for me, I’ve served my purpose on this earth,” George says.
Of all her efforts, George says her greatest joy comes from being a mother to her 16-year-old daughter. “Raising a kid that has the courage to run for student senate in the 10th grade, because she wants to ensure that her peers are living with integrity and responsibility and respect, I think that’s what I’m most proud of,” George says. “I feel like I’ve made a positive contribution to society through my child, and the more I see her flourish and grow, that’s when I feel like I’m doing something right.”
Mandingo-Grebo is set to hit the market in early 2023. For more details on availability and to find Mandingo-Grebo at a location near you, visit ifrillc.com.
- 1/2 cup sugar, for rim
- 1 lime, sliced into rounds
- 4 oz. vodka
- 4 oz. Mandingo-Grebo ginger beer
- 4 oz. Champagne
- 2 oz. pineapple juice
Rim two glasses with a slice of lime and dip in sugar. Mix vodka, ginger beer, Champagne and pineapple juice into a pitcher, pour and enjoy.