I have often shied away from calling myself an entrepreneur since I have not had any real success stories since I stumbled into entrepreneurship. I say I “stumbled” for a reason, as I will try to explain in a bit.
Before joining the MEST program and being tagged an E.I.T (Entrepreneur In Training) for a while, I had always considered myself a creative who happens to love problem-solving. I express creativity through writing, photography, cooking and programming. But, for me, creativity is the joy of creating something out of nothing and perhaps, in the process, solving a real problem.
It was this desire to solve a problem that made me stumble into entrepreneurship. It started during the first semester of my first year at the University of Cape Coast. I was majoring in computer science, and I supplemented my studies with online courses. However, whilst taking these online courses, I soon discovered that our introduction to computing was not at par with these online courses. I concluded that perhaps it’s because, in other countries, computing was introduced to students at an earlier stage. So I decided to start a social enterprise where I would teach professionals computing and use the proceeds to teach children in deprived communities about computing. My goal was to kickstart a revolution, hoping that by the time these individuals got to the University, they would learn more advanced things because they had already had fundamentals thought to them.
The strategy was simple; I would start a club in my alma mater and eventually grow it across the country. Since building multiple computer labs was expensive, I would have mobile computer labs (a bus with computers set up), which would be easier to move around. I, however, lacked the resources to do this, so I started the club with two other friends during my summer vacation(or long vacation as we called it in Ghana). Unfortunately, it was a considerable struggle coming to Accra from Cape Coast each week to teach the children, which led to the club eventually failing.
This failure led to the birth of something new; I realized the need to interact with the I.T community in Ghana to get the support I needed for my social enterprise. I, therefore, started a digital magazine I called “geekWorld”, hoping to get in touch with I.T professionals whom I would interview for my magazine. But this was even more challenging than running the social enterprise, which I started as a club. The major challenge was getting tech news and finding information about I.T companies in Ghana. I was sure I could solve the later challenge by building an online directory for I.T companies in Ghana. That also failed.
I can go on and on and try to explain the various things I did that failed, but I choose to focus on the positives. With each failure came a new opportunity and new lessons. But the most crucial takeaway for me is my first investor, Ebenezer Acquaye (My Dad or, as I like to call him, Mr Acquaye). I read somewhere that the first investor in any company comes from the three F’s – Family, Friends and Fools. So perhaps that’s why my Dad invested in me. I always took money from him concerning my entrepreneurial stuff. But the most significant one was a loan I took when I wanted to create the I.T directorate. I needed to register a domain, get an official email etc. Interestingly I never paid him back, and sadly, I’ll never get the chance to do that.
It is said that investors don’t invest in products or ideas; they often invest in teams and people. My Dad never invested in any idea I had; he invested in me. Hopefully, one day, that investment will pay off.
PS. I always admired Steve Jobs as an entrepreneur, and since it’s been a decade since his passing, I wanted to share my entrepreneurial journey so far. A short tribute to jobs :).