I arrived in Accra, Ghana late on Friday night. As I stepped off the plane and we waited for the shuttle to take us to the arrivals lounge, I was immediately greeted by a friendly, smiling runway worker. I soon realised that this type of warm welcome is not uncommon in Ghana. Everywhere I’ve been, people have been so friendly and genuine – I am yet to meet a grumpy Ghanaian!
After getting through security, we were met by our team leader Ami and two Ghanaian ICSE volunteers: Jamal and Collins. We then set off to our home stay in East Legon – a large house that also doubles as a bespoke clothes factory, ‘Jem Afrik’ run by Auntie Tina and Uncle John (in Ghana, it’s customary to use these terms to show respect).
We arrived to a pitch black house with no electricity or running water. On the journey to the airport, Ami explained that power cuts are common in Ghana – this is called load shedding and is locally known as ‘light off’ or ‘Dumsor’ in the local language. We’ve had several of these in the past week, with light off often lasting for 12 hours at a time. This obviously has a huge impact on productivity and cause businesses to lose money, although people do just tend to get on with things here. Despite this, I was delighted to get to the home stay and meet the rest of our Ghanaian counterparts before collapsing into bed – it was a long journey!
After a day exploring Jamestown and a small section of the vast metropolis that is Accra, we commenced our training week. Getting up at 6am on a Sunday is not something I’m used to, but I was so excited to get started it didn’t seem to matter. Everything is so different, from the food (which is delicious) to the way people live and work and yet I don’t feel in the least bit uncomfortable thanks to the hospitality of the people here.
During the training week, we found out more about the businesses which we’ll be working with. I have been partnered up with Collins Agyeman, a graduate of the University of Professional Studies in Accra and originally from the Volta region in the East of the country. Collins shares my passion for Marketing and Business and we’re both really excited to be working with Penta Foods who produce a tasty probiotic yoghurt drink called `Gogurt’. We’ll be tasked with developing the Gogurt brand and marketing strategy as well as producing various marketing collateral to increase the products’ visibility in an increasingly competitive market. “My engagement with ICS has really opened my mind to entrepreneurship. After graduating, I was just looking at applying for jobs but after starting this project I am more confident about running my own business and I believe this scheme will give me the skills I need to make that happen.”
After six days of intense training that involved crash courses in Marketing, Finance & Accounting and Consulting, we all went out as a group to a local hotel to enjoy live music and dancing. Our group is a fantastic, diverse mix of people and it’s a shame we have to pair off into our homestays next week but as I’ve been given the role of Social Committee I’ll be sure to get everyone together for more fun activities after our weekly team meetings.