Wrapping up the first week here in Accra, I can already say that I’m super thankful for the opportunity. Working in a foreign country against a different cultural background, as opposed to travelling, can be quite the challenge, but potentially so much more insightful at the same time. I have learned that many Ghanaians have a can do attitude. Instead of overthinking and second guessing their ideas, they simply go for it while learning along the way. Time and punctuality is, as expected, not seen as rigid as in Germany. To many, showing up late is better than never showing up. This requires that you just have to stay more flexible throughout the day and should be open towards cancelling your plans and making new ones, if necessary. Lastly and connected to this, I’ve been told that deadlines should not be kept. Reason being that when an assignment is submitted on time, people tend to feel like the person just rushed it to keep the deadline. If the person, however, is taking a few extra days to complete the task beyond the deadline, it seems that they have given it some extra thought and put more effort into it.
I’ve spent this first week getting to know the status quo of the startup I’m working with. After an assessment of the competitive market, I started to create and visualize some first marketing ideas and put together some dos and don’ts for social media – an area in which the founder specifically asked for support.
Thinking about next week, we’ll in cooperation define the core DNA of the brand. With this foundation, it will be quite easy to inform any marketing decisions and beyond that even sell the brand to potential investors and customers.
I am very much looking forward to diving deeper and will keep an open mind to all the learnings that might come from week two.
My challenge to getting to know the company and the idea behind continued after the first week. After the branding workshop, which went very well, we narrowed down the character of the brand and created a vision for Tukwan. Surprisingly, we immediately agreed on the future vision for the company and its potential and put the vision into a few concise words: “With technology, we make Africa easily and affordably accessible to our customers. Our insights allow for authentic experiences and meeting new people.”
Based on this, it is now our task to implement this vision in the daily work, making sure that every marketing initiative (and even those measures outside of marketing), helps to strive for this goal; while every employee internalizes the vision for themselves to work on one shared belief.
We also showcased, as part of a small gathering, the current status of our work to the involved organizations that helped finance this project. All five fellows were asked to present themselves and their work, and the founders introduced their business and its purpose. Alongside this, there were speeches from the initiator of the aXd-program and the CEO of iSpace, who connected us to the startups in Accra. The atmosphere was very celebratory and it almost felt like some sort of graduation although we fortunately still have two weeks to go.
Aport from this, we continued with the work for social media. A day trip to Cape Coast with the entire group, allowed us to take images and videos, which we’ll again use for the social media accounts of Tukwan. Besides a fun activity, namely going to the jungle at Kakum nation park, we also visited one of the most important historical sights in West Africa, Elmina Castle. From here, for nearly 4 centuries, Africans were being held captive for up to four months and then sold and shipped to the Americas or other parts of the world. Visiting this sight and learning about its history should be done by every African, and POC living in the diaspora, in my opinion.
Looking at my personal state and after having found some sort of routine here by going to the office on a daily basis, I have gained an even greater level of respect for entrepreneurs. Distances in Accra are very long, paired with the partly unbuilt roads and the weather conditions, it can be quite exhausting to get to ones workplace. It is not rare that some people take up to two hours to commute to work daily in the morning. This, of course, makes it quite relatable why punctuality is not as precise. I also feel like my brain functions differently in the Ghanaian heat; I am quite productive in the mornings but after lunch this state quickly changes and I start feeling quite tired. This example reminded me to keep an open mind as it is quite easy to judge something, you personally have not experienced yet.
Our last week in working with the start ups here in Accra has begun. This last week is all about finalizing our work, summarizing the learnings and theoretic examples and handing it all over to the start up founder. What is important to me in this step, is that the work I have created is tangible and understandable, so that Phil, the CEO of Tukwan, can use this as valid info to his business.
I am also starting to grow closer to some people colleagues and co-workers. One of the IT specialists here at iSpace approached me with a business idea of his own, humbly asking for advice. Together, we closely looked at his ideas and pinned down the concrete business concept to make sure the idea is profitable and sound – at least in theory. Now it is on him to test the idea in practice.
It showed me that the people here really appreciate our input and highly value our opinions. It also made me realize that I enjoy sharing with others what I have learned in my professional career, hoping these insights can inspire and uplift someone.
It will take a bit of time to reflect on everything after this month full of new experiences, but I can already say that I will miss working here. The open arms people greet you with, the collaborative atmosphere in the coworking space, the fun everyone brings to work and the feeling that my startup could be the next big thing and me having been a small part of its journey to success.