As a child, I was good with fixing puzzles. My greatest challenge was to fix a 2000-pieces puzzle in a week, and this was done only after returning home from school. This achievement was one of the inspired moments that led my adventurous lifestyle; taking risk, always trying new things, putting things together to lead a change whenever there was an opportunity.
One day, I had this strong conviction that, I will be in contact with a movement or an organization that would give me the opportunity to transform the lives of many Africans, especially the youth in West Africa, and behold a dream comes true. The shadow of the big picture (The Big Puzzle) started when a cousin of mine who lived in the UK spoke to me one day while we were chatting on a social media about a friend’s friend (Alieu Fofonah, CEO of GoGetters) who intends to visit Africa for an entrepreneurship project. After going through the project charter, I agreed to help but after finally meeting with Alieu, my willingness and passion to support him grew more. I was later introduced to some of the founding members of GoGetters in UK via electronic medium. A UK-Ghana team was then setup to coordinate the activities that would be organized in Ghana. There were several online meetings on how the project would also be carried out in other part of Africa.
Finally the UK team agreed on having a one-day workshop in one of the universities in Accra (capital city of Ghana) and a Six-week stay to better understand the ecosystem and business dynamics in Ghana. This was going to be the first ever GoGetter’s workshop organized. My initial fear with this plan was how I was going to organize activities on the ground; making enquiries and meeting key speakers for the event. This was so because I was highly engaged in multi-national company that required 100% concentration at work. Also on the negative perception that, people in Africa do not take things seriously and that, no matter how much time and money is being spent on a project, things are likely to go wrong. I could not just entertain those thoughts, so I quickly spoke to some few friends I knew who could complement my deficiencies and close some of the gaps I identified. Fortunately, some few friends agreed to assist me on the journey.
There were 5 major tasks needed to complete to have a successful workshop:
- Getting a venue for the event
- Securing food for refreshment
- Shooting the GoGetter’s documentary
- Securing sponsorship
- Securing speakers / panelists to grace the occasion
The first task needed was to acquire a venue. After weighing options, we agreed to hold the workshop at the University of Ghana, Legon, and so we sent in some proposals to the school authorities and the student leaders hoping to get a confirmation from them. Upon several interactions with them, we realized it may not be possible to have University of Ghana as the venue. With the help of one of our partner, Dr. Kweku Asare, we were advised to try another institution, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA). GIMPA is one of the well-known professional institutions in Ghana. This time, we decided to focus more on the Students Representative Council (SRC) to help get the venue for free or for half price because the event was going to be for free (this many people did not agree). After all requirements were met, the SRC decided to join as partners to help us organize the event since they also believed in empowering people especially their students. On the 15th of October, the venue was locked in and the workshop was to take place on the 14 of December, 2013. Task 1 is down…
Then comes task 2 (securing food for refreshment). By then, the UK team had arrived in Ghana. We had an invoice quote from GIMPA for the food but it was more than we estimated. We tried as much as we can to get the price down, yet, not much progress was made. This almost changed our decision of making the event free but as GoGetters, we managed to come up with a new plan which surely worked for us at the end. We were able to get the food and enough snacks with drinks that, anyone who wanted more had something to enjoy.
On task 3 (shooting of a GoGetters documentary), after communicating clearly in our letters that we were going to have a documentary as part of our milestones, we could not just abandon it. We made a lot of enquiries from a few media guys but the feedback was not satisfying enough. At a point, we felt like eliminating the documentary part of the trip because the cost too high, but something inside us still wanted the documentary. To us, it was not just for credibility but also the great opportunities we would miss in the future. A member of GoGetters in UK informed us of a guy from Nigeria who would come to Ghana to capture the documentary. We were happy about the news but still had a lot of questions unanswered. What it meant was that, the plan was not the best option for us. Still fighting on, we finally had one of our media partners proposing to cover the documentary but by some miracle from God, we also had a video guy who was willing to take care of the documentary. We had a huge discount from GHc 7000 (about $3500) to finally nothing for the documentary. It was one of the significant signs that GoGetters were on the right track and God was on our side. We had the documentary as planned…
Now on task 4 (seeking for sponsorship), we had a feel of how difficult it is to raise funds at the last minutes. After going through our brainstorming session on where and how to get funds, we decided to visit some few companies or institutions that may be willing to help us with some funds. We started with one of the major telecommunication companies, nothing worked out. We tried some few financial institutions also, yet, no progress. The sun, the hot weather, dealing with taxi drivers and the traffic on the roads were the factors that really made this quest adventurous. Finally, we had a suggestion to meet a lady at Acumen Fund. This lady helped us with lots professional advice and also in getting a key speaker for the event. Through her, we were able to get our first GoGetters in-cash sponsorship in Ghana. From that time on, we were motivated to push harder. We did our very best to get a few in-kind sponsorships for the workshop and we really thank God for all the few support that we had.
Final on task 5 (securing guest speakers or panelists for the occasion), the event was scheduled for the 14 of December and the venue was acquired on the 15 of October (2 months to the workshop). After the numerous struggles trying to raise sponsorship with little success, the next big challenge was to get good key speakers whose presence would also promote participation. The Big question was how do you invite a key personality to an event 2 months to the event and knowing that, the month of the event was December? This month is a very busy period of the year; many events like Christmas, end of year celebrations, home coming events, corporate gatherings, etc. would take the attention of many key people. Even though, we had done some ground works for the speakers initially, we could not push forward because the venue had not been confirmed by then. We started sending mails and making personal visits to few institutions and offices in which we were asked to provide some documents. These movements presented very interesting experiences for the UK team (Alieu Fofanah CEO of GoGetters and Tola James, Co-Founder and CEO of Kokoriah), challenging transportation system with a different weather conditions to manage. We usually met at one of the malls in Accra, (Accra Mall) to review strategies and marketing plans. Because of the way things were going, we were advised by the GIMPA SRC President to change the date of the event to 21 December (one week further) since it will not be a good time for the GIMPA students to attend. By attending other entrepreneurship events and speaking to some few individuals, we came across some interesting speakers. We were honoured to have Anita Erskine, who is a multi-talented TV Presenter, Producer, Oral Narrator and a Communications Entrepreneur, Alex Adjei Bram co-founded SMSGH and Kena Amoah, currently the CEO and Co-Founder of Nevahold. By the help of Dr. Kweku Asare, we had a notification that, the Minister of State at the presidency in charge of Financial and Allied Institutions, Hon. Fifi Kwetey would wish to be part of the event but is yet to confirm.