Review

Richard Bekyi Receives High Performance Recognition

We have said time and time over that outstanding is not the same as normal—in fact they are opposites. This is actually a tautology of a sort. But often even those who think they understand end up confusing the idea. They have managed to convince themselves that different means getting out of line or perhaps start heading in the very opposite direction. You are different of course when you do that but different is not always useful. In a situation where everyone wants to live those commit suicide can also claim to be different. Those who rip off their clothes in public too are different of course but only because most of us want to keep our clothes on.


To address this conundrum we must first postulate a direction or perhaps a destination that will define progress for the larger society. When this is done, being outstanding will then mean you lead the pack in the set direction towards the destination. When you lead, you are different because the majority of people tend to hover around the middle bracket doing what it called normal, average or good enough. When they cook, you can eat it because it is ok. It has just about enough salt and pepper to give a fair taste. Those who are outstanding cook something that you can eat too, except you are left with a strong urge to indulge in infantile art of finger licking. It is just too damn good. Such persons are rare and we have found they are driven by a performance conscious mindset. Ripping off your clothes and heading in the regressive direction is the easy way out to different—way of the miscreant. Real performance takes more.


Mr. Richard Bekyi, a recipient of the SPID-UP® Performance Recognition Awards is one of such personalities who give you that strong urge to lick your fingers. He does this through graphic designing and printing. Richard’s customers are not ordinary folks either. They have a consuming appetite for outstanding. If you are normal you will have a tough time understanding this man. As one customer told us;

“I thought this guy was weird… I was sure he did not understand what we wanted and he won’t even compromise. He is very stubborn about quality and you cannot persuade him to do simple things. In the end I realized I really did not understand where he was coming from. You really have to stop thinking and let him lead the way because he wants to take you to new level”


Mr. Bekyi and his team at Iseeworks Limited craft some life-transforming designs and they are not going to sit around and let some printer make a mess of it. He controls the process from start to finish making sure their customer get exactly what he promised them if not more. It is easy to confuse his work with something that was crafted a Hollywood design studio. But that is not all there is to this man and his team. Anyone who knows anything about the printing business will tell you that it’s major plague in not only quality of work. There is also a severe case of untimely delivery and Richard Bekyi seems to have developed an antidote for this blight.


For us at SPiD-UP® that is hope. We are capable as a people to produce high quality only if we decide to and one of our many examples is Mr. Richard Bekyi. We hope he is inspires you to be performance conscious enough to give your best. Regardless of what you do, you ought to activate the urge to indulge in the art of finger licking in your patrons. Mr. Beckyi will be speaking at the Upcoming SPiD-UP® workshop on performance where he will share some thoughts on the importance of performance. We look forward to seeing you there. #spidup 

THE 7 LAWS OF SHATTA WALE




Shatta Wale is a household name. No debating that. Before you start a long argument about your position on his brand and influence, pause and read what these thinkers/professional speakers Bernard Kelvin Clive and Jeremiah Buabeng have to say about the phenomenon that is Shatta Wale. 

1. The Law of Controversy: if I can stir a controversy at every unique point in time, I can keep my name on the lips of the Ghanaian on the street and therefore sustain my name recognition and my relevance. That’s it! The Shatta brand thrives on controversy. And he doesn’t fail to deliver one every now and then for our entertainment and for his profit. 

2. The Law of Anti-Establishment: Wale is not unaware of growing public sentiment against institutions such as Charterhouse. He takes advantage of it by calling them out for a duel every now and then and posturing as the victim. Does it work? You bet! 

3.  The Law of Disruptive marketing: he, unlike, other artistes always knows how to start top of mind and get the media to keep talking about him. In that way he thrives. He uses his cunning disrupting ways to break the news about his music and movements. Thinking about the fake Adidas move? Yeah! You have got the drift now! A savvy business man, he is! 

4. The Law of the Rebrand: When the first brand isn’t working, rebrand! Wale strategically and successfully rebranded from the then ‘Bandana’ brand that failed to attract him the needed clout to the much widely revered brand “Shatta Wale”.  His rebranding is arguably the most successful by any contemporary artist. It has worked wonders and still thriving. He didn’t only secure a name rebrand, but also devised a strategy to annex his genre of music – dancehall. 



5.  The Law of the Tribe: he has built an enormous tribe – The Shatta Movement (SM), something most brands, his predecessors and even peers couldn’t build or manage. He has a raving fan base that has become his core tool to push his brand to the masses and consequently to the top. A strategy emerging artistes must learn and adopt but of course one that takes genius to execute. 

6. The Law of Unconventional: it’s the 21st century, folks, and you can’t capture people’s imagination if you are doing what everybody does. So Shatta’s response to this is: be unconventional! Break the rules! Challenge everything the people are used to seeing and hearing. Some will hate you but that hate will still fuel your fame and keep you on top of your game! It’s a formidable Shatta law and it works!!!

7.  The Law of the Ghetto: Shatta is popular for the same PRINCIPLE that made Peace FM worked; he reaches out to the masses, the people on the street, the ghetto. If you a Harvard-schooled prim and proper person, Shatta will likely not be your man. Unfortunately, for you, people like you are in the minority. The majority are on the street. He identifies with hustlers; people who have no strategy to succeed and are counting on their street smarts and aggressiveness to push them to the top. 

So there they are, the 7 laws of Shatta Wale. Now, let the controversy begin. 

David Sakyi Recognized for High Performance


Since we announced our search for high performing individuals i.e. ordinary people doing ordinary things in extra-ordinary ways, we have received all kinds of nominations. The initial list was overwhelmingly long and the truth is that were not prepared for it. It took a while to go through it all. The very necessary assessment was another task in itself. We had to visit nominees at their locations to be sure they are what nominators say they are.

While some were a difficult decision to make, others made it very easy. One of the easy decisions was Mr. David Kwaku Sakyi; a well-known radio and TV personality who also runs the famous Kwaku David Photography here in Accra. Most people do not know that he also serves as a minister with the Lighthouse Chapel International. He is also a passionate speaker and has been featured on many frontline events like TEDx and PESC. He’s also been hosted on the KSM show.


But it is not his Jack-of-all-tradeness that fascinated us the most. It is more how he does what he does when he chooses something to do. Without training in radio, he very quickly became the main voice of Hebert Mensah’s Xfm when he hosted the Xpress Breakfast Show for almost 2 years. His outstanding voice and depth of knowledge won him a large following that is still growing with everything new thing he does. When he decided to move to TV, he was invited to host Capital TV’s morning show almost immediately after he had been guest on the show which was then hosted by Kwame Danso (E-nice) of Echo fame.


After leaving Capital TV, David was swooped up by TV Africa to co-host the flagship show Media Today. At the end of his tenure, David decided to concentrate on his photography business but was soon called into action by the Citifm’s breakfast show team. He had previously been a regular on Jessica’s drive time show, Traffic Avenue.


I have personally seen Kwaku David as he is affectionately called at work in his photography hat. What he does with a camera is astounding. He literally talks to the camera and makes it do the most amazing things. He talks passionately about unusual angles and going the extra mile to get shots that will bring memories to life. He puts a lot of time and energy training and retraining his team very regularly because he wants to make say they are always on point. But that is just the thing with people who go the extra mile. They always have some unusual idea in their head that needs to materialize. It is not the same with a person who shows up, points and shoots. He and his team travel regularly around the country and the continent taking pictures in the most unusual of places.




As an astute businessman, he has recently evolved his operation into what is now the KD Group where all his many hats have been brought together under one roof. Mr. Sakyi might be a jack of many trades but the various trades are not too far apart and he demonstrates passion in every one of them. Upon our assessment, it was easy to recognize him as a high performing individual who is also very likely to make the SPiD-UP® Fellowship status in the very near future. If we learnt something from Mr. Sakyi, it is passion for what you do and the ever elusive high performance mindset. 


Look around you; there are high performing people everywhere; working, pushing, fixing, growing, impacting and doing above-average things. You can brighten your little corner too by simply nominating them into the SPiD-UP® Performance Recognition Program to show your appreciation and contribute towards a better Africa. Most importantly, let Mr. David Sakyi inspire you to give your best wherever you find yourself. He will be speaking at our workshops in the very near future. Be sure to join us then. #SPiD-UP®

Dr. Adjimani Recognized – SPiD-UP® Performance Recognition Program

It appears there are people who have no other interests besides making this world a better place. Such people seem to give their best purposefully regardless of where they find themselves. They do it so effortlessly it is almost as if they do not think about it. Dr. Jonathan Adjamini of the Department of Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Faculty of science —University of Ghana is one of such personalities.

We showed up in his office unexpectedly to present him with the recognition award. It was surprise visit of a sort. Nobody had mentioned it to him of course. From the moment we walked into his office it was evident that he was a high impact individual. He was in the middle of a private tutorial with a student. We will soon learn that he keeps a list of non-performing students for special attention. Now that must sound like a simple thing to do until you see the size of the biochemistry class and the host of other things clamoring for his at attention. If you know anything about Ghanaian lecturers, you know he is not the norm.


He gives meaning to high performance. The interesting thing is that he has a whole philosophy to what he does and you know that interests me a great deal. He has decided that in spite of the myriad of challenges he still has an opportunity to brighten his little corner. If you think that sounds like something you hear every day, rest assured; the majority of people who profess this idea do not even come near practice. This man lives the idea.


He pointed out; “I do not need a huge platform or fame to make impact. I can do that here. I believe that if I can come this far, these children can go even further because they have more opportunities than I did. Besides, many of them are actually very intelligent without knowing it. I do what I can to bring it out of them and the result is exciting”. We were told in confidence by some students that it is not unusual for Dr. Adjimani to go out of his way to do things that sometimes puts his hard-earned reputation on the line. He doesn’t just teach, he builds lives.


In the middle of our conversation he dashed to his desk, spent 5 or so minutes looking for a document which he eventually printed out. “Let me show you something” — he handed me what looked like an article from a website. The heading read; Prof. Ada Yonath Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2009; for the studies of the Structure and Function of the Ribosome. I do not know what ribosomes are and I frankly have no plans of googling it—these science things give me headaches. But this one was exciting; apparently the good Prof. Yamoth and his team made 25,000 attempts just to make this discovery. You might have heard about Edison and his famously worn-out 999 light bulb attempts. You have my permission to laugh at the difference. These people are on a whole other level; 24 steps up. You have to be out of your mind to want to attempt something 25, 000 times. Prof. Yanoth is clearly not a normal person and they do say like attracts like. I am especially fascinated that Dr. Adjimani was excited about this enough to take time and print out the article for me. It is a demonstration of his performance consciousness. High performance things excite him.  I learnt something new—if it excites you, share it.


I still have the article and it is going into a frame that will sit on my desk. Not because I plan to google the ribosome thing but more because I want to see it every time I sit down to work. To say I am inspired will be an understatement. There are those just want to do their best; they are different from those who do it because they want fame and money. Dr. Adjamani of the biochemistry department of the University of Ghana is of the former breed and I was honored to have met him. I rejoice in the fact that there are still men of his kind working in our institutions. Such men and women give me hope by keeping the dream of a better continent alive.


I had to do my very best not to take too much of his time as there were students waiting outside. I really wanted to stay and talk for a while. Dr. Adjamini was nominated into the SPiD-UP® Performance Recognition Program by a former student who is now a practicing dietitian. She thought it was a good way to express her heartfelt gratitude to this seemingly ordinary man doing extra ordinary things in the lives of young people. She told us, “at a point it didn’t look like I was going to make the grades until Dr. Adjimani stepped in to do a little more than he is paid for”. Our conversation with other past and current students revealed that they have all been impacted positively by him and are in fact very fond of him. No one had mentioned this to him until the surprise visit of team SPiD-UP®. Among his many achievements is the authoring of three books in his field that are used in universities across the country. With another book under construction, I could not think of a better way to extend one’s impact.

He epitomizes high performance. For that we celebrate him and his work as well as the institution that thought it was a good idea to hire him. There are people out there doing wonderful work and not getting recognized. At SPiD-UP® we consider this an injustice. Like Dr. Adjimani, they may not be chasing fame and as such, will not indulge in the lobbying and the bribery that many do to gain recognition. This is because such people are selfless—they give without expecting anything in return. Performance theorists have taught us, that such persons are often high performers and Dr. Adjimani exudes the traits.  In fact you will find such traits with the likes of Einstein and Tesla.



It is imperative to recognize and celebrate such persons—it is our way of brightening our little corner and making our continent more performance conscious. Look around you; they are everywhere; working, pushing, fixing, growing, impacting and doing above-average things. You can brighten your little corner too by simply nominating them into the SPiD-UP® Performance Recognition Program to show your appreciation. Just like the person who nominated him. Most importantly, let Dr. Adjimani inspire you to give your best wherever you find yourself. He will be speaking at our workshops in the very near future. Be sure to join us then. #SPiD-UP®

Sharkmellon and his 59 stories



Shakiru Akinyemi alias Sharkmellon alias Shark is a Poet, Writer and emerging Business Leader. His Poems ‘Ekurase’ ‘Street Children’ ‘Ivory Horn of Africa’ have been published by Poetry Foundation of Ghana. Two others, ‘Rascals and Good Morning’ have been published by Kalahari Review and ‘The Traveller’s Song’ has been published by the Lunaris Review.

Shakiru has been featured on CitiFM Writer’s Project of Ghana and remains favorite performer at Leadership and Governance Events. His deep thoughts, unique voice and dramatic persona help to wow his audience. His much listened Piece ‘This I Put to You’ has been played on Unique FM of Ghana and West Africa Democracy Radio in Senegal.

He has performed alongside Rhymesonny at Google hangout and also performed at ALEWA, a poetry event organized by the People of Equal Thoughts and Spirits (POETS) and occasionally at Ehalakasa. In 2009, Shakiru was Guest Poet to an audience of about 2,000 people at Maiden Stage Productions ‘His Birth in the 2stCentury’ and ‘His Death in the 21st Century’ organized by J-Nissi Productions.

Unlike Poetry, he has for a long time kept his collection of short stories in his archives but when some friends sighted the works, they implored him to make them public saying “Shakiru, why are you keeping these beautiful stories to yourself?”, thus, the reason for hosting ‘The Storyteller, 59stories FOR 59pesewas’ on 12th March, 2016 in commemoration of Ghana’s 59thYear of Independence. Shakiru blogs at Sharkmellon@blogspot.com, tweets at @sharkmellon1, instagrams at @ceo_shakiru  and facebooks at Shakiru Akinyemi. He lives in Accra.

The Roverman Clockwork works


I have a reputation for being hard to please. I do not feel flattered by it and I can assure you of that—it is not very positive is it? I like to think of myself more as a person with high expectations. I just feel people can always do better no matter how good they are. On a continent where corner-cutting is the standard, I might be more of a blessing in disguise than a necessary evil depending on how you think as a person. Take your pick but at the end of the day; you want the best you can get and I just happen to be the guy who thinks you are entitled to it.  This is the reason we created the SPiD-UP® recognition program—so we can recognize people for their efforts when they do manage to put in the effort. You must like that somehow.

Over the holidays, I was literally blindfolded into the national theater in the name of surprise. Apparently this has become necessary because I spend “too much time” on my laptop and phone. I don’t get out much and consequently, I have not seen any of the famous Ebo White plays. Ordinarily, I would have thought it not a big deal. I didn’t see Luciano perform when he came to Ghana and I am still alive. After all, I have listened to uncle Ebo on radio and as far as I know, his thing is marriage. Not my terrain at all and you can ask the women who have suffered my…never mind. I was in for the surprise of my life and not many things surprise me beyond my continuous painful endurance of the lack of integrity and common sense that is ever present around me.


The first thing that struck me was that; the place was filling up really fast. Really, do people like plays in Ghana like this? Our tickets were reserved and the attendant had no trouble whatsoever producing the tickets as another steward ushered us in with utmost politeness. I became very suspicious; were we being set up for something. So you can imagine the alarm bells going off in my head when we were offered free ice cream from Fan Ice. Ok now I was ready to walk out of the place, I have had enough nice treatment for one evening. Something just wasn’t right. Then I was asked to fill a survey form before I got my Ice Cream—I knew it; there had to be a catch.

 


As we approached the entrance to the main hall, two stewards gestured us to come this way. We found the perfect seats after my usual mucking about what is the perfect seat for me without any interruption at all from the stewards. Really? They let me do what I like? Amazingly the play started exactly when they said it will. Not one second late. Wait! how does anyone get anything to start on time to in Ghana? I was honestly mystified at that point. I was in for a shock. From cast to costume to plot, this play was something out of this world. I never expected to laugh from start to finish and learn very valuable lessons about politics and human conduct and its influence on his environment at the same time. Nobody warned me about the humor especially. I guess I did not know this Uncle Ebo like I thought I did. To say I had the time of my life and regret missing all the previous plays will be an understatement of the worse kind. But not to worry, he has something called the festival of plays where you can see a lot him in a week or so.


Nowadays there is a lot of talk about brands and experiences. I myself am an adherent of the experience idea and I chant it every opportunity I get. The Roverman team has mastered the art of crafting life changing, perception shifting and hope building experiences. If I have seen high performance anywhere, this will be it. The play; women on fire, its writer, its production team, the company behind it and its leader all deserve a standing ovation. This is the reason whey I and the team at SPiD-UP® in our quest to engender high performance consciousness, have recognized Roverman Production as a high performance organization. We insist; If you are looking for great entertainment and an opportunity to learn something about society whiles laughing your lungs out, an Ebo white play is your best option. As for me and my household, we are converts for life. #SPiD-UP.  visit them here http://rovermanproductions.com/global/


Atiemo’s 5-in-1 book

I was once informed about a young lady who said she did not read Ghanaian authors. As a writer and Ghanaian myself, this didn’t go down too well with me. But I am also a pragmatist and that means I face facts. This lady is not that different from any typical Ghanaian. For us anything made in Ghana or by Ghanaian is not good enough. She will choose Paulo Coelho over Albert Ocran any day as perhaps she will choose Stacy Adams over Doris Okraku– nothing unusual there.


I am not a promoter of affirmative action. If you are at a disadvantage it is an opportunity to surprise everyone. If you can’t bring the element of surprise (the only advantage you have under the circumstances) with you, you are normal and that is simply not good enough. But a person who makes such blanket statements is also saying that she has read most Ghanaian authors and has found them not worthy of her precious reading time. I do not believe this is the case with our lady friend and clearly her wrong judgment has done nothing but deny her the life transforming experience possible when you read an author who understands your setting. Whiles I could mention many young Ghanaian authors my focus in this review is Sam Zeph Atiemo’s Embracing You Inner Courage.


I met Sam Zeph Atiemo recently at the Ghana’s premier university where we were both facilitators of a seminar on Agri-prenuership. Nothing prepared me for the surprises that awaited. He spoke extemporously with a firm grip on what was clearly a passion and a life mission. He had an idea; conscious entrepreneurship.   After his presentation, I could not wait to review his book; Embracing Your Inner Courage.



No book I have read in a long time is this packed. It has 5 parts, 31 chapters and 220 pages. As the author himself put it, “this books is five books in one. It inspires me every time I read it so I know it will inspire others”. With countless anecdotes from the author’s own experience as a successful entrepreneur in three countries and two continents, the book can fairly be described as semi-biographic.


The first part treats Passion, Planning, Massive action, Commitment and fulfillment n that order. The book literally captures the whole spectrum of personal development with its 31 chapters establishing it as a natural route to entrepreneurship. Having established the basis for entrepreneurship as a means to eliminate poverty, something he called an indictment on the continent due to her many natural resources, he makes an outstanding case for the establishment of his own Business Factor Initiative For Africa where he provides consultancy among other services for entrepreneurs.


Passion is a highly efficient fuel for performance regardless of your field and this book starts first by igniting it within the reader. This is a useful technique because with passion one can achieve anything. It achieves this through the many probing questions that seem to pop out of nowhere while reading the book. Answer the questions and you begin to see a new you emerge.


The great thing about the author is that he is a practicing entrepreneur with years of experience and several ventures under his belt. He understands the Ghanaian experience and interprets them with astounding accuracy. 

The Spousal Influence on existence

A lot has been said about the spousal influence on the possibility of the maximization of existence. This is a natural course of reasoning if one premises that everything we prefix with the “MY” is either an asset or liability—something that either aids or sabotages the cause. If this is the case, then the choice is of great importance as spouses are to be life partners. Perhaps the single most important decision after purpose is that of the partner with which the mission must be accomplished. As we all know, two heads are better than one and two people pushing the same cart in one direction provides an overall better output than one person. But this is only if they are in agreement of course.


From the man’s perspective, the woman is to be a helper (as far as Christian thought goes). But does that imply that the woman must not have aspirations of her own? Why then will God give the woman dreams too? So lets face it; the questions have not all been answered. People are often more attracted to the things of little value considering their own aspirations. Let me clarify that quickly before I send you on a trajectory of confusion. Some people have said that men are attracted to what they see, so they tend to want the most beautiful woman around and they may not be the best choice. Now if this is the case, then we have a problem. Even the most beautiful flower withers at some point. Women in this sense then become useless when they loose their glamour. Luckily beauty has also been said to lie in the eyes of the beholder. Is this really true that what is beautiful to one person may not be beautiful to another? This is also another problem to solve? Are the proponents saying that you and I can’t booth look at a Rolls Royce Phantom and agree on it’s beauty? Or is there a possibility that we can disagree on Joslyn Dumas’ hips as an outstanding work of God?


There are many more questions that need to be resolved in spite of the many we think we already have answers to. A friend told me recently that his idea of a good woman is one who is capable of taking initiatives. He gave 25% for looks, 25% for character and 50% for intellect. I thought that was interesting given my friend is a minister in training and hence very active in the church. But control my big mouth I did. Minutes later he came back with “well she also has to be spiritual” without stating what percentage that was to be. You may start worrying for his wife to be at this point. The truth is that we don’t always know what we want any more than what is good for us. A lot of the things men accuse women of are really human problems more than women problems. As a man I know from experience that my male friends have deserted me when I was down quicker than my female friends. The case is true the other way around. Perhaps instead of looking at the world through gender-filtered eyes we are better of looking at it through moral-filtered eyes. There are good people and not so good people—simple.


So lets admit it, we haven’t got all figured out. Not even us ministers. One thing is for sure, the person you choose to carry out your quest for maximization of your existence with must help your cause or you can forget it. I don’t know what whether it is beauty or intellect you need and I am willing to wager that you don’t either. Whether you are male or female won’t matter much if you threw in the idea of shared aspirations. Partners at home and partners at work? Well…the term is life partner and life encapsulates all aspects of your existence. I believe this is the working model but what do I know, many times I failed to get it right myself. I can tell you one thing for sure, people change.


A lady friend who was desperately looking for marriage at some point, later described herself as a single mom by choice. Many women are resorting to having children for men they have no intention of marrying. Others think, they are safer sharing another woman’s husband. Hopefully, like me these issues confuse you enough to want to hear what mentor and seasoned counsellor C J Buckman and his team has to say at the WHY AM I STILL SINGLE summit on the 6th and 7th of November 2015/ The event is supported by Joy FM, Hitz FM and SPiD-UP.COM and you my friend, are invited.

African billionaire Elumelu, Kim, others meet in Ghana to End Poverty

I am not certain if the World Bank chose the University of Ghana as its venue for the ‘Shared Prosperity Forum’ or it’s the other way round, that the University of Ghana invited the World Bank to host its #EndPoverty Campaign on its soil. Does that really matter? Yes?

I arrived at the Great Hall of the University of Ghana at 2:50pm on Friday 16th October 2015. The Program was billed to begin at 3:45pm and end at 5:45pm, a push ahead of October 17, which is ‘End Poverty Day’ a commemorative day observed by the United Nations.

As i sat, waiting for the program to commence, soulful Jazz rocked, just then, some questions flooded my mental space, one of which recurred over and over:

‘Can we end poverty?’


We were seated inside the Great Hall of Ghana’s Premier Higher Institution of Learning; the University of Ghana, being in the front lines, training people to solve problems. Graphically, poverty resembles that monster with weapons and ammunitions, ravishing homes and causing untold frustrations in alarming proportions. To this end, an army had gathered. A commander from South Korea with Generals from Nigeria, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal. Let the war begin!!!

Pre-commencement

Participants filed into the Auditorium. I spotted some high level opinion leaders, Diplomats and Students.  Slowly, it was getting filled but just about thirty minutes to the commencement, more people, especially students galloped in. Media houses kept busy positioning and repositioning equipment. Joy News, Live Fm, FTV et al.


At 3:44, I took another full scan of the Great Hall and it was filled to capacity with overflows outside. Mind you, this was a rare opportunity for anybody to listen to great minds and capture historic photos of Dr. Jim Yong Kim and his crusaders.

Banner

The mounted banner stretched from one end of the stage to the other, on it was printed the ‘End Poverty’ logo, interspersed with two globes. The ‘End Poverty’ logo was in different colours, which I believe signifies the fight to end poverty was happening in every continent.  I was at the right place at the right time.

 Commencement
At exactly 4pm, Nhyira Addo alias the ‘rainmaker’; Host of Joy fm Morning show mounted the podium. ‘This aeroplane is air-borne’ I said to myself. ‘Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the World Bank Shared Prosperity Forum…..’  His delivery was impeccable; voice? Lively and musical, even finer than what one often heard on radio. Perhaps, radio waves steals some savoury in one’s voice. Maybe?

Nhyira Addo paused for half a second, took a half breathe, scanned the audience and delivered another powerful introduction. This time, It was to invite 2015 Ghana New Artiste of the Year, MsVee; the Natural Girl Dancehall Queen. MzVee is spotted in one of the ‘End Poverty’ T-shirts.


Opening her performance with Bob Marley’s ‘No wo man No cry’, she switched to her ‘Borkor Borkor’, ‘Natural Girl’, ‘Dancehall Queen’  tracks. Me? Was I dancing? (laughs) I had to restrain myself as the temptation to slalom on stage was high, rather, I nodded as she effortlessly cruised from one song to another. It was like one long song with many parts. While she was at it, the dignitaries filed in.

First, Professor Jane Naane Opoku-Agyemang, the Ghanaian Minister of Education at 4pm. Then, Dr. Jim Yong Kim and his Officials at the World Bank, Mr. Makhtar Diop, Vice President of World Bank Africa Region followed almost immediately. Dr. Kim was all smiles, nodding as MsVee performed. Oh such a bubbly man.


Next to arrive was one of Africa’s wealthiest Entrepreneurs and Philanthropists, Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu. Yes, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, The United Bank of Africa, Transcorp, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation and one of 20 Most Powerful People in Africa according to Forbes. He wore a grey Suit with a red necktie and red socks to match. A minute later, the Prime minister of Democratic Republic of Congo was ushered in. Finally came, Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of African Development Bank.


Akwaaba (Welcome)

As expected, the Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ernest Aryeetey had the honour of giving the first words and rightly so as head of the University. He walked onto the stage with such pride and urgency, offering his appreciation to all for coming. He could have chosen to hijack the stage to talk about himself and the university and what-not from the birth of Adam till the death of Jesus. He chose not to. In fact, His welcome address inspired hope yet did not last more than 120 seconds. Kudos Mr. Vice Chancellor.

Mr. Makhtar Diop was next on the bill. His task was to give an introductory remark. He was quick to express his delights at the strides being made by the University of Ghana in developing leaders for the world stage. The Senegalese Diplomat gave us more than we asked for. How? ‘That the Democratic republic of Congo was a shining example of an African country fighting poverty tooth and nails.

He quickly nailed down the fact that the Democratic Republic of Congo under the leadership of Matata Ponyo Mapon had kept inflation at 1% since 2013, which was at a staggering 53% in 2009, despite the fragility of the country’s economy. Who is this Matata Poyon Mapon?

Enters: His Excellency Matata Ponyo Mapon

Those who did not see the average-height man when he entered the Hall, due largely to the numbers around him (Understandable for the First Gentlemen of every country) waited patiently for this opportunity. Rounds of applause slapped the insides of the Hall as he made his way to the podium. Mr. Matata Ponyo Mapon speaking for almost half an hour explained that his government continues to implement tough economic reforms in fighting poverty and creating wealth. He backed his points with one statistic after the other.

‘Two roads diverged in the wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference’

Robert Frost (The road not taken)

Referring to the above, Mr. Matata Ponyo Mapon shared his motivation in all he did. Hey, Big ups to all lovers of Poetry in Africa!

Enters: Lerato

Lerato Mbele, the South Africa Journalist who works with the British Broadcasting Corporation had been billed to moderate the Panel discussions davos style. She invited the Panellists, Dr. Kim, Mr, Adesina,  Professor Opoku-Agyeman and Mr. Elumelu.

Lerato laid grounds rules. Panellists were encouraged to give short straight-forward answers. Participants were urged to clap in solidarity with opinions from the panellists and to keep a ‘straight face’ when they disagreed with panellists.

Professor Opoku-Agyemang

Lerato punched the Ghanaian minister with the first question ‘What do you understand by poverty and who are the most vulnerable to poverty?’ The Minister in response believed women and children were most vulnerable. She reminded us of Kwegyir –Aggrey in 1923, who said that ‘If you educate a woman, you educate a family’.

Dr. Jim Yong Kim

Dr. Kim who heads the World Bank Group; a Physician and Anthropoligist by training, is such an exceptional brain. His economic insights and ability to speak in a clear understandable manner is enviable. On which groups of people were more vulnerable to poverty, he said:

‘I think it’s the poor child living in and around rural areas between the ages of 0-5’

‘It’s the height of unfairness to relegate children under age five to never being able to learn’

‘Children have to be able to learn anything and quickly we have to dedicate a huge portion of our operations to the achievement of this objective.

Addressing students, Dr. Kim said ‘This is the most important thing i can tell you, the Korea of 1959 is now the Africa of 2015, we talk about Africa Rising but in quiet conversations we hear all kinds of talk about impossible, you know what we hear from the prime minister about DRC lots of people were saying that’s impossible, don’t ever believe and certainly don’t believe it by yourselves’

Mr. Akinwumi Adesina

Mr. Adesina, was more concerned about the essence of agriculture, arguing that, agribusiness and technology is Africa’s best bet at reducing poverty. We were all thrown into laughter when he joked that even doctors advised patients to take their medication after meals, hence the unavoidability of agriculture.

‘65% percent of all the arable lands in the world are not in Asia, Latin America, right here in Africa, great sunshine, great water, cheap labour, you thrown anything up, it comes down, it grows’.

‘Today, Africa, Ghana, Liberia, Cote d’ivoire, Cameroon produce 75% of all the cocoa in the world but we get only 3% of a hundred billion dollar market. I went to Belgium one day and I went to a store and picked up a chocolate, and it was written on it, manufacturers, we’ve been in business since 1863. So I asked the person, do you want to know what i really think, Africa has been doing the wrong thing since 1863’

Mr. Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu

Easy talking Mr. Elumelu agreed that agriculture and agribusiness was the way forward adding. Lerato sought to suggest that young people had less interest in agriculture. Tony disagreed and posited that actual statistics proved otherwise. He then advanced that thirty percent of applicants to the Tony Elumelu Foundation entrepreneurship Program actually needed support to grow their agribusinesses.

‘In recent times, African investments in Africa have now surpassed foreign investments in Africa’

Lerato and Tony

Lerato: How did you get out of poverty to wealth? Five factors?

Tony: Hard work, enabling environment. Discipline, Culture of saving, Long term thinking, Align with people with similar perspectives. And it is the combination of these and more that accounts for my success

Trust me; it’s very difficult, almost impossible to limit the likes of Elumelu.


6pm

The night had been largely a mastermind sharing of ideas. Lerato had hinted by her line of questioning that she was drawing the curtains down. The Ghanaian Minister, being the only woman panellist knew how to make her presence felt when the question fell in her area of expertise; education. She took the bull by the horn when Lerato asked her about a child who doesn’t want to study mathematics because he prefers to be an Artist and still make a great contribution, throwing her fellow panellists and audience into rapturous rounds of applause


She argued that the manner in which science and mathematics has been taught has been the challenge, adding that it formed the foundation, adding the language uses to instruct students have been another barrier.


‘It is those who have taught it who have not taught it well and let me tell you that my ministry has since 2013 retrained almost 2000 science and mathematics teachers across the country’ …

‘let me use a very practical example, of a child whose mum processes palm oil, from the farm to the oil, if this is not science, then I don’t know what science is’


(Audience charge, giving rounds after rounds of applause) She continued:


‘Take the seamstress who sews for example, she uses a scissors. The scissors is a scientific instrument and the way she cuts her materials is mathematics. If this is not mathematics, then I don’t know what it is’.


(The Hall becomes smaller as the cheers intensify. Dr. Kim and his colleagues can’t hide their excitement)


‘Nothing stopped Korea from using their language, by using their language; it didn’t stop them from making the fridges and phones that we import, because Koreans were taught in a language they understood, the equation picked up. Because we are teaching our children in a language they can’t even follow, we are drawing them back’


*Sweat profusely*—*Wipes brow*—*Drinks water*

Conclusion

The Ghanaian Minister better be ready to answer more questions because the local media landscape and social media will gruel her ideas the hardest way they can, pass it through the magnifying glass and test its strength. Is her proposition on local language as medium of instruction of learning feasible? Now or Later?


As for Lerato, she knew she had reached the climax and that there was no better time to end the conversation than now. Lady and gentlemen, your final comments on how we can end poverty?

Dr. Adesina: ‘Just end it’

Mr. Elumelu: ‘create employment and embrace local value industrial activities

Dr. Kim: ‘Listen to young people and listen to the women’ Smart Kim. (Audience erupt again)
Honourable Opoku-Agyemang: Focus on quality education delivered in the right medium.


Announcement
Diplomats are guarded out
Photography and Exchange of pleasantries
Refreshment


I stepped out, hopped on a bus and returned home. Thank you for your time. #spidup

The Comedian And Platinum Entrepreneurial Solutions Conference 15 : Was It A Success?

There is no doubt that we have entered a new era in Africa; the era of entrepreneurship. A clear indication that people are beginning to take the bull by the horns and blast their way into the next phase of Africa’s prosperity.


Week after week we hear of entrepreneurship conferences happening at one corner of town or the other. Week after week, new businesses are born. Week after week, global leaders emerge. Akosua Konadu Owusu, Platinum Exposure and the Knutsford Fraternity will not be left out of the game changers revolution. Theirs is the Platinum Entrepreneurial Solutions Conference (PESC 15) held at Knutsford University College on 22nd October, 2015. The conference was billed to begin at 10am.


Knutsford University College is located on Bamako road behind Mensvic Grand Hotel. The University is hidden in the crevice of plush East Legon with a design like one of England’s Old Cathedrals. Painted colour white including the generator that sat at the entrance.


Inside the auditorium; I was amazed by the number of roll-up stands mounted. Akosua’s team had managed to secure sponsorship from Tigo Ghana, ASN Financial Services, Surfline, Kwaku David, Invents, First Capital Plus, America Cola, Rush energy Drink, FiestaGH, Ende, Roots, Indomie, Minimie, T-Best among others. This is by far the largest pool of sponsors I have witnessed for an event of this kind this year. Event organisers will help themselves by seeing Akosua for some tips.


Foster Romanus is in the building!!! The rising Ghanaian comedian hovered around. Initially, I assumed he was billed as one of the mentors for the day; perhaps, there are those who desire to make a living by ‘fooling’ themselves left right centre. I was wrong. He was to be the Master of Ceremony. Akosua paaaa!!! Hahahahahahaha


Mentoring Session

Ato Ulzen Appiah of Ghana Think Foundation; the face behind Bar Camps, Adu Amani of Adu Amani Clothing and Paul Agbai of Invents drove participants through this segment. Ato Ulzen molested his mentoring class with questions, such that when you answered, another was waiting. He’s got some amazing perspectives to raising capital and about understanding your Customer. Ultimately, he advised, ‘start small’ and ‘if your application for sponsorship is rejected, still invite the individual or organization to attend your event.’


We did not have to wait for long before the crème de la crème issue surfaced like in all entrepreneurship gatherings: ‘How to raise capital’. Ato surely knew what was coming. He asked,‘For instance, if we gave you three thousand Ghana Cedis for your business, how will you use it?’ People’s eyes widened and they became ever alert. A middle-aged man answering said, ‘Ah! This money is too small for my business.’


Like seriously? I almost burst with laughter. There were some pretty answers though. Ato capped the session by sharing how his organization secured funding for the maiden Bar camp. Do contact Ato for details.


Akosua’s Birthday

Foster Romanus then ‘forced’ us to sing happy birthday song for the Lead Coordinator Akosua Konadu Owusu. Foster, fascinated by cute Adu Amani insisted she led the birthday song for Akosua. Ah! Singing too be force? (laughs).  Please come closer, I need to whisper what I’m just about to say.


(Earlier, in introducing Adu Amani, Foster Romanus said ‘Let’s welcome with a round of applause Mr. Adu Amani’. Like seriously? Ms Oyoo Quartey was the other victim of his overdose comedy. ‘Let’s welcome Ms. Oyoo Quartey, Co-founder of Story Foundry).How? Foster? How? It’s Store Foundry ok. Meanwhile, his eyes fixated curiously on the writings in the programme leaflet from which he read. Well?

Keynote Address by Mr. Kwabena Essel; Founder of Knutsford University College

‘By the 18th century, the whole world moved to the use of machines to do what man earlier did with their hands. Those who took advantage today are called industrialized countries.’ Mr. Essel punched. He spoke at length weaving in and out of history, business, Ages, Psychology, Economic Outlook, Students, Entrepreneurs and the future.


‘See opportunities and think outside the box in solving problems’ was how Mr. Essel brought his train to a halt. The Visionary had spoken for close to an hour admonishing participants. Naa Oyoo Quartey’s task was to be more difficult. How? She needed to win back the attention of those students who felt they had just been subjected to a ‘boring’ doctoral lecture, lengthy? Yes, but any aspiring entrepreneur cannot ignore the admonishing of a successful entrepreneur in the person of Mr. Kwabena Essel who founded the University. What have you founded?


Oyoo Quartey Releases The Brakes and Accelerates

As first speaker of the day, Oyoo Quartey, Co-founder of Store Foundry and a Social Media Enthusiast knew that she had the unenviable task of setting the pace and energy that would mark the event’s success or otherwise. She released the brakes by opting to descend the podium and rather talk with participants. Her point was unmistakable. She had not come to preach.


‘How many of you are doing what you really love to do?’ Oyoo asked. She didn’t expect an immediate answer but to provoke participant’s thought process. Participants adjusted their bottoms in the red couches and sat upright in order to grasp the core of her message . She continued.  


‘We have to learn to kill mediocrity, we have to kill it.’Oyoo challenged. I mused, ‘eeeii Oyoo, It seems like you have come paaa’. Clearly, she was levelling mental strongholds. Me? Lying? Alright, let me prove it. Oyoo asks two students who the founder of Facebook was. They had no idea. These are university students for God’s sake. She knew she could hit harder and score the goal. Their minds were fertile.


‘A lot of you waste time on social media just chatting your time away’ her sultry voice sank through; one could literally touch the passion which accompanied her every utterance.



‘We have to kill that thing where people say Made in Ghana goods are not good’ Wow, some rhyming. Good! ‘We have to learn to talk less and do more, Something that cause people pain and you bring the idea, they’ll pay you for it.’ She took some questions. She was done for the day.

Jesse Jets Off

Foster Romanus in introducing the next speaker said ‘When I began my career as a comedian some years back, people thought I was an armed robber. It was this man who encouraged me and ten years down the lane; I look back and say wow’. ‘It is my singular pleasure to invite Mr. Jesse Agyapong, the Marketing Director of Tigo Ghana.’ Foster announced beaming with smiles.

A well groomed young man in his late thirties took the floor. His first statement was a question cum appeal cum instruction. He asked participants who sat at the back to move forward. Their response was snailish. He makes the appeal again and a third time. Still, the response was snailish. Jesse says, ‘If I fail at persuading you to come forward, I might fail at communicating my simple message to you today.’Boom! Period!


Jesse takes off without further camaraderie, as if to say ‘Join the flight or join the flight’. In the most practical of ways, Jesse compresses a marketing degree course into a thirty minute presentation.


Using the case of the lanky student of New Century Training School who wishes to start a business in the energy supply sector, Jesse traversed the terrains of Problem identification and Analysis, Customer Identification and Segmentation, Competitive Advantage, Target Consumer Understanding Tool and Marketing Brand Funnel.


I was amazed at how he brought marketing home and explained the concept of ‘A day in the life of your customer’. People like Jesse are needed in classrooms too. No, he is more needed on the field. And to imagine that Jesse has not branded himself a speaker speaks a ton. If he does explore this area, Tigo Ghana risks losing him to full time speaking in the long run.


‘The greatest joy you have is when the customer moves from consideration to purchase your product’…Jesse Agyapong definitely went beyond the consideration stage in the minds of his listeners.

John Armah grabs the Baton

John Armah, Director of the Ghana Centre for Entrepreneurship, Employment and Innovation received the baton with firmly planted feet. He sprints forth with a talk on the essence of having a Business Plan.


‘I thought a business plan was not important until I went into business, so I refer to it being the document that will guide my thoughts’. John’s delivery is a replica of John the Baptist in the Bible. Though I could hand count the number of people in the auditorium, he spoke as though he were addressing a thousand-seater audience. There are those who get discouraged when the crowd they expect to speak with is less by one. He was not bothered by the numbers.


‘If you have the idea but don’t find the people who are ready to pay for it, then you are not in business. The idea is not the success; the business is the success, Let me tell you, ideas exists already, the difference is in how you structure yours.’  John said.


About funding, he opined that, ‘When you don’t have the wisdom to know where the capital is, how do you access it? I did not have a cedi when I started my business. You said you’ve done graphic designing, you have a laptop and you say you are unemployed, fire burn you!’


Not just these, he possesses a rare skill at posing red-hot questions. He asks questions in a way that stops you in your holy tracks, forcing you to go like ‘I think I can do better.’

I advise you get in touch with John for a chat. I intend to do same. In wrapping up, he quoted 1 Corinthians 3:16: ‘I planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase’. Mr. John Armah, of the Orios Group had planted. Bernard Kelvin Clive was going to water.


Amazon Best Seller Bernard Opens Doors

‘Most of us have lost our true identity. We have lost our identities in the shoes of others. We are in the wrong tracks but we are running very fast. When you look back, beyond your wigs and make-ups, who are you?’, ‘Are you sitting and your heart standing? You are doing one thing but your heart is in another thing’ Bernard asked. ‘I came to resurrect the dead.’ Bernard began with aplomb.


He then took participants through ‘PURPOSE’ which as he defines it mean Passion, Understanding, Resources, Position, Opportunities, Service, and Earn.


Bernard Kelvin Clive plays the ‘Sweeper’ role, a football term for a special kind of midfielder. I can even liken him to the Fernando Torres of Chelsea against Barcelona in 2012 and the Neymar Jnr of Barcelona against Bayern Munich in 2014. At his peak, He is the ‘Zinedine Zidane’ of Branding and Success Coaching.


He operates like the ‘queen’ piece in the game of Chess. He mops up the speech of his colleagues with such mastery that’s been tested of fire, brimstone, water, thunder, lightning and dumsor. No wonder he kept asking participants, ‘When you are naked, when you are naked, when you are naked, who really are you?’ (not physical nakedness though). Bernard is usually the last man to walk off the pitch. He symbolises the embodiment of Consistency and an amalgamation of little things done well.


No wonder he defines himself as ‘the man who opens doors’. He closed the Platinum Entrepreneurial Solutions Conference 2015 but no doubt opened the door of hope for his listeners and friends.


Closing

Yeah! There was a lunch break along the line. I had America Cola drink and 7A unique Pie, while chatting the time away with Adu Amani, Founder of Adu Amani Clothing. (A one-on-one with Adu Amani coming soon and I’m excited already) I used the lunch break to visit the exhibition stands and the items on display were amazing, mostly handcrafts.


The program closed around 4:30pm, only downside being delay in start of event. John Armah according to the programme line-up was to speak at 12:50 but it wasn’t until 3pm before it was his turn. Akosua admitted the delay, apologized and promised to incorporate lessons learnt into their next event.  


I made some new friends including Nana, Laud, Chris and Baaba. Wonderful people trust me. Thank you for staying with us. I hope you enjoyed the read. I’ll love to hear from you and very importantly, your suggestions and feedback. Also, do let us know if you have an event coming up, I’d love to do a special review for you. Spid-up


You can reach me directly at sharkmellon@gmail.com. I blog poetry at sharkmellon.blogspot.com.

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