Legal framework, corporate law, employee contract, work permits, and brand protection; these were the phrases that were frequently heard at the conference room of the University of Ghana Alumni Centre. It was the 15th day of December, and the programme was the Legal Seminar organised by Challenges Worldwide Ghana for Q6 enterprise owners.
The speaker for the seminar was Mr Korieh Duodu of Bentsi-Enchill and Letsa, the legal partner for Challenges Worldwide, Ghana. Most of the owners of the enterprises for the autumn programme were in attendance, with some being represented by their volunteers. Some staff members of Challenges Ghana and some team leaders for the cycle were also present to help with facilitation.
The seminar began at 5 pm with opening remarks from Mr Kelly Anyomitse and Mr Alex Barnes, both Programme Coordinators for Challenges Worldwide in Accra. Mr Duodu then took the enterprise owners through the legal aspects of doing business in Ghana. His session touched on issues concerning the legal framework of the Ghanaian business environment, the Ghanaian corporate law, corruption, business registration and permits, employee contracts and so on. The enterprise owners got the chance to ask questions bordering foreign participation, trademarks and patents, shipping regulations, taxes and much more. Mr Duodu notably stated concerning corruption, that every business should strive to do the right thing and stay away from corrupt practices, especially if they intend to someday partner with foreign investors.
At the close of the seminar, the enterprise owners expressed satisfaction at the whole Challenges Worldwide ICS programme. They may not have had answers to all their legal concerns, but they at least were further enlightened and put on the right pedestal to deal with the legal aspects of doing business in Ghana.
Jack Hamilton Fellows, took part in Challenges Worldwide ICS placement as a Business Support Associate, delivering a consultancy process to a business in Accra, Ghana during summer 2016.
Since his placement in Ghana ended, Jack has gone on to work for a startup in Hong Kong, supporting them with their digital marketing and has founded The Social Mercenary, a brand and website that’s mission is to inspire a community of change makers.
We caught up with Jack to see how The Social Mercenary has evolved over the past few months and what his plans are for 2017.
Hi Jack, thanks for your time today, it’s great to see The Social Mercenary taking off, could you tell us why you decided to found The Social Mercenary?
I want people to see what’s possible and how they can make the most of their lives. So I hit on 3 key areas:
1) Volunteering (for those that haven’t done it it’s so rewarding)
2) Travelling (something everyone wants to do and ts great it really helps bring an open mind set– and it is possible to do cheaply!)
3) Health and wellness (it’s an area I’ve always found interesting plus it’s so important to keep fit and healthy to live the best life possible).
That’s great to hear that you are continuing to display the Challenges Worldwide ICS ethos. We notice that on your website you now have a shop section. Could you tell us about your plans for the shop?
The Social Mercenary has a range of apparel. We currently have 90 bags from Ghana in Hong Kong ready for a Christmas fair at the Conrad (A 5 star) Hotel. The ultimate aim of this platform is to give grass root entrepreneurs in developing countries access to a worldwide market. We essentially help market their product but in the long term, we hope we can invest in the businesses to help support any growth that comes with supplying a world market so that the entrepreneur can have continued success.
So how did this all come about?
I created the blog to capture the Challenges Worldwide ICS placement in Ghana. The title “The Social Mercenary” is a complex juxtaposition that on the surface was supposed to indicate economic empowerment via entrepreneurship. At the time I thought that by helping a business grow and to then become profitable it would then have subsequent social values. This ties into the Challenges Worldwide ethos that was embedded during my placement in Accra.
How do you think your Challenges Worldwide ICS placement helped prepare you to be a “Social Mercenary”?
First I want to point out that this is a community and so if you have a passion for making the world a better place then you should certainly get involved! Going back to my Challenges Worldwide ICS placement the skills and experiences I gained were incredible. I worked with a company that sold smoked fish which on the face of it doesn’t sound too inspiring. However, it opened up a lot of lateral thinking that has helped me out to date. For instance, I had to understand the domestic market for which there has not been that much market research as such I calculated the market size (which was huge) and with the business we thought about a revolutionary strategy to bring hygienic smoked fish, economically to the masses.
Challenges Worldwide give you a great deal of responsibility during your placement and so not only did I develop skills in market research, I also gained a great understanding of the operating procedures and the financial recording requirements that are vital to a business.
Finally, and probably most importantly, the placement gave me confidence in my own ability because I felt I had a personal impact on helping this business. After my placement, I knew I could set my own business up no matter where I was in the world and so whilst in Hong Kong, I have seen the opportunity to take The Social Mercenary from a personal blog to a collaborative community of change makers.
Challenges Worldwide still have places for you to work with high growth/ high impact businesses in Ghana, Uganda and Zambia in 2017. Apply today to take part in a UK Government funded Challenges Worldwide ICS placement and challenge yourself to change your world!
Liberty Powers Footwear is a business run by a young entrepreneur Amos Osomi, who specialises in high-quality hand-made leather footwear, for both male, and female customers. Liberty Powers also offer apprenticeship schemes for young people local community to learn footwear production.
The enterprise is located at Dan Wright, Mamprobi, Banana Inn Road in Accra. From here, they hope to expand their market share and to continue to have a positive impact on the local area and larger communities through the apprenticeship scheme. Established in 2014, Liberty Powers Footwear has risen from selling shoes from a table-top to owning a shop front with machinery for footwear production. The company holds an excellent reputation for the quality build of the various designs of leather footwear and experiences many repeat customers from the local community.
Established in 2014, Liberty Powers Footwear has risen from selling shoes from a table-top to owning a shop front with machinery for footwear production. The company holds an excellent reputation for a quality build and a range of various designs of leather footwear and because of their reputation they experience many repeat customers.
Although a small enterprise, Amos is always looking to expand the personal skills of local youth who are eager to develop their skills. He accommodates their education and only asks for them to come into the company when it is outside off school hours. Currently, two female apprentices have completed the training and now have successful shoemaking enterprises of their own. The owner enjoys helping others to succeed and wants to promote ideals such as equal opportunities, gender equality, education, and a positive working ethics.
Atto Tetteh is a menswear brand, founded in October 2014, and is based in Accra, Ghana.
At Atto Tetteh, they believe Africa has a story yet to be told. The African man, bold, strong and courageous has always been fashionable. Colour, warmth, energy, sophistication and sartorial elegance are their description of this fashion sense.
As a young luxurious brand, Atto Tetteh aims to provide men all over the world with quality and trendy clothes with a touch of African appeal. With a very careful selection of fabrics and immense attention to detail, they make clothes that fit and make the Atto Tetteh ‘man’ exquisite.
George Tetteh, a young men’s wear designer, is the Creative Director and founder at Atto Tetteh. The enterprise employs six other people. Atto, as he’s popularly called, has a strong design aesthetic and is largely inspired by his African culture and environment. He passionately tells the African story through the making of elegant and sophisticated clothing, carefully and meticulously constructed for the Atto Tetteh client.
Find out more:
In a cosmopolitan city like Accra, city dwellers often satisfy their quest for news and daily trends by listening to the radio; while in the shower, while taking breakfast or while stuck in traffic on the way to work. With the multiplicity of radio stations in Ghana, one doesn’t have to go through much stress finding a suitable frequency. In fact, it seems wherever one tunes to has one show or another going on each morning.
Having noticed this potential exposure to a mass audience, the Communications Committee thought it a great chance to showcase the opportunities available to youth and enterprises to a bigger part of the population.
For other NGOs, getting on the radio is a recipe to flaunt their achievements but for Challenges Worldwide, we sought an opportunity to widen our scope of impact, reaching out to people whose lives we can influence but haven’t yet because of our restrained reach.
Listen to the recording of the show
The Radio Show
At 7.30am on Monday, representatives of the committee were at the studio of Radio Universe, the official radio station of the University of Ghana with a great coverage and reach to a lot of young people in the metropolis.
The discussion was a ten-minute session as part of the daily morning show which was strategic because nobody misses the morning shows in Ghana. We started off by introducing ourselves and the organization Challenges Worldwide. We talked about businesses we work with and how the programme impacts their growth and development. Emmanuel, who is part of the committee elaborated on his business and the role he and his counterpart are playing to bolster growth and the progress they’ve made so far.
Jack got to talk about his experience as a UK volunteer, working in a different environment, the challenges and benefits of cross-cultural interaction and his enthusiasm to champion change in a fledging business that needs his help.
Challenge yourself to change your world
We went through the processes of becoming a part of the programme as either a volunteer or Team Leader and also how enterprises could get involved. Particularly, we emphasized the role of Challenges Worldwide in building a more productive young workforce which would play an active role in building the nation and the economy through empowering businesses. We summed up the talk by inviting listeners to be part of the programme through all our media platforms.
It was a wonderful time sharing our beliefs, introspection into the impact we’ve made and improvements of our lives these few weeks. We’re changing the world!
Days after arriving in Ghana, the exciting task of volunteers choosing which enterprise they would like to be placed in for the course of the program arrived! I was very lucky to be placed in my first choice enterprise, ‘Froyurt Yoghurt’.
A small enterprise that produces probiotic yoghurt with a variety of mouth-watering flavours! The enterprise focuses on giving Ghanaian citizens a healthy yet tasty fresh beverage. The unique range of flavours and consistent quality is what makes Froyurt yoghurt so irresistible to consumers, it goes beyond the usual vanilla and strawberry flavours as the favourites of the company are the yoghurts with fresh coconut and millet (a popular cereal in Ghana) giving a distinct taste to the Froyurt yoghurts!
A family business with joint ownership between ‘Pastor Ophelia’ and her daughter ‘Franklina’. Together, they both deal with every aspect of the business such as: production of the yoghurt, distribution, purchasing raw materials, packaging and so on! Pastor Ophelia, who takes care of production does not use any machinery at all to make the yoghurt, the entire process is completed manually and every batch is just as tasty as the last! The lengthy process lasts between 7 to 8 hours which includes intense labour. Production usually begins at 6am where everything is done in her medium sized kitchen! No factory, no machinery! Hardworking is an understatement at the Froyurt enterprise, indeed Froyurt is small but nonetheless inspiring.
When it comes to taste, undoubtedly Froyurt is one of the best yoghurts I’ve personally tasted, however the ladies have contacted Challenges Worldwide in hope to build brand presence and increase market share in Ghana. They one-day hope to compete with already established probiotic brands in Ghana such as Yomi and Goghurt and more importantly, to see Froyhurt sold in big malls such as Melcom and Shoprite. They believe starting with Challenges Worldwide is the right direction to begin achieving these goals!
M-JAP a small company with huge ambition, dreams of exportation and a revolutionary packaging solution. There’s a lot of potential here but also a lot of recommendations to be implemented but I don’t mind I like the challenge and its satisfying helping such a motivated and enthusiastic business.
So over the past 2 weeks I’ve been working with M-JAP – a business that sells smoked fish, honey and health drinks. Random combination or what?! Unfortunately or fortunately for me the bestselling product was the smoked fish, which made mine and my counterparts Market Research a very smelly business indeed.
So what’s so special about M-JAP?
Well Mr. Samuel Abunyah has come up with a revolutionary product that packages smoked fish into a hygienic primary and secondary packaging which stops fly’s and other insects causing the smoked fish to became insanitary which is a huge problem at these market stalls where the fish is just left out in the open, with fly’s swarming about around it.
It’s been really interesting conducting the fleet of ICS Challenges company and market analysis which has helped us structure and develop a really great insight into M-JAP. For instance looking at the Marketing Mix which Looks at Price, Promotion, Product and Place we discovered that there were issues with how the currently distributing their product. My counterpart and I are currently working on writing a recommendation to implement a new distribution channel to increase the sales of this innovative product.
One thing you should expect over on placement with Challenges Worldwide is to expect the unexpected! I hate the cliché but in terms of financial record-keeping all the businesses vary so much. One company can have no recording keeping what so ever, or like M-JAP they have all the important pieces of information but there are gaps for instance sales for 4 months last year weren’t recorded and on the opposite end of the spectrum you have businesses where they have already prepared things like cash flow statements and projections. And you don’t know till you get over here what sort of business you’re going to get.
As I’m sure you know by now, week 2 of our twelve week journey, is when we finally begin our work for our respective businesses. This is something I have been looking forward to, as the months of anticipation and excitement will finally be over and I can get stuck in and make the impact I know I am capable of delivering. This is how the majority of you will feel, and what the majority will be able to experience instantaneously without an issue, however inevitably there will be an occasion in the programme your high expectations may not be met. Unluckily for me on this occasion, I was let down. Not due to negligence on anyone’s part, but in my case it was more of a ‘just one of those things’.
As my colleagues enjoyed a very exciting first week at work, myself and my counterpart Sam were first stood up on the day we were to begin work, something we both weren’t expecting and were left frustrated due to the preparation, importance and overall significance we had placed on this day. However the following day our business owner had agreed to meet with us. I was full of excitement to get started for J-Nissi Enterprise, a business which specialises in hand cut sugar coated ginger chips, and it had only been running for a year and has ‘space issues’ as the enterprise summary crudely put it. So after the 3 hour journey to our enterprise on the tro tro we were granted permission to visit the business, I was surprised by the scale of the operation, the business was a one man show in which a middle aged woman operates from home, in a tiny dark kitchen with tools more commonly seen in a garage. After being shown the premises we were able to sit down with the owner, and conduct our initial meeting. Her passion and vision for the product were clear, and it was really inspiring to hear her personal story in which she has overcome hardship to trying her hand at business in the form of J-Nissi Enterprise. I came out of the meeting pretty happy overall, the only concern to me at the time being how much she was on the phone and how busy she seemed, but I didn’t think too much of it and began pondering how we can help the business.
Despite the initial romance with the enterprise, it became apparent that perhaps the enterprise was not ready for our services at this moment. As occasion after occasion, the owner cancelled on us so much so that we were becoming unable to submit our deliverables because we simply did not know the answers. In this case we were more of a burden to the owner instead of an assistance. It began to become clear to Challenges Worldwide staff that we as volunteers, were having our time wasted and they acted swiftly to transfer us to another business, for which I am grateful. Despite how demoralising this was, we were well prepared for the realities of the programme and the training and guidance we were given really shone through in this situation.
So onwards and upwards onto Seladel Foods, a fish and poultry business who have been operating for 20 years. They operate in a factory, have their own office space, and supply one of the biggest supermarket chains in Africa- Shoprite. This was a huge contrast to our first business we were initially assigned, and began work right away in a lovely air conditioned office. Therefore despite the initial setback, I am sat here with confidence looking forward to the next 10 or so weeks we have left, and optimistic about what we can achieve at Seladel Foods. So in my case this cloud does in fact have a silver lining.
I was initially quite apprehensive about meeting the staff on my first day at the business due to the fact that being Scottish, even some of the Ghanaian students studying English could not understand anything coming out my mouth. Regardless, I still ventured there on day 1.
Being ‘apparently’ the closest business to our host home, myself and Isaac thought it would be a walk in the park. Instead it turned into 3 mile walk along dirt roads and meandering around village houses getting ‘obromi’ yelled at me, which means white man. In all honesty it was a great experience and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Top tip: Do not take suede shoes to Ghana, they will not stay clean for more than two minutes walking on the dust concealed road.
After almost 2 hours we eventually found our way to the workplace. Not what I expected. We were led through the gates of a large house and taken into a very nice, clean furnished room. The company owner was in a rush so we didn’t get much time to talk. Instead we were approached by his younger brother, who was very polite and friendly offering us water and ice on our arrival. This was a great gesture and instantly I felt very comfortable being there. After a quick introduction and discussion about challenges, we were given a tour around the work facility. Most of the production was completed in the back garden of the house, where the four smiley carpenters worked hard as a team. I tried my hardest to speak clearly and not eat my words when introducing myself. My counterpart assured me in confidence that they didn’t understand a word I said. Over the next 10 weeks I hope to give myself some self-taught ‘Scottish mumble’ rehab. From a close observation of the team and their work it was evident that they were all very talented and hard working. The final products that they showed us after were of a very high standard. Before we left myself and Isaac got a photo with the team of carpenters. This was a nice momentum of the first day and helped to ensure a good first impression.
After an exciting week of at the Legon campus in Accra, the real thing is about to begin! After an intense journey and a lot of rushing around to find the right tro tro, here I am, on Tuesday morning with my counterpart Ferdinand, finally meeting Clara, the owner of Norte Drinks. I immediately liked her and I hope she felt the same way about us. After our chat about her enterprise, I was truly impressed by her motivation and forward thinking about her business. Here’s a short summary of what my client is doing and where my counterpart and I will be working for the next three months.
Her name is Clara Norte, owner of Norte Drinks Enterprise in Accra, Ghana. She started her company 2 years ago with her own capital and a little help from her friends. She graduated the University of Ghana in 2012 and since then she had worked in TV Africa for a few years before realising she wanted something different for her future. That’s why she decided to give it a go and start her own enterprise making drinks. Her flagship product is the popular Ghanian drink called Sobolo. For most people reading this, I should expand on what Sobolo is – it is a special drink, something like an ice tea, made of hibiscus plant which is boiled and then different natural flavours are added to it. Norte Drinks makes 3 different flavours – cinnamon, lemon grass and pineapple. Clara’s products are 100% natural and she does not add any preservatives to her drinks, keeping them nice and fresh. She is also bottling and labelling her Sobolo. Apart from Sobolo, Clara prepares fresh fruit juice – orange, pineapple, watermelon and takes it to events where she’s serving – most recently a book launch in Legon Campus but many other events as well. What makes Clara different? She’s the complete one man show. She does everything herself and she does everything from 100% natural products bought locally. Her goal is to promote healthier lifestyle among Ghanians and this is a rare thing to see out here. Her forward thinking will take her places.
Overall, I’m excited to embark on this opportunity and see how things go. This is an amazing opportunity to actually see what a young entrepreneur is going through and help as much as we can. It is still week 1 but I’m positive something exciting is on its way.