CAPE COAST — Shaibu Zikiru, an agricultural entrepreneur in the making, walked into a University of Cape Coast lecture hall early on a Saturday morning, with a black notebook, a few copies of his business plan and a goal of networking with like-minded visionaries. At this month’s BarCamp Cape Coast, he said he found exactly what he’d hoped for.
Zikiru’s experience is just one in a movement happening all across Ghana. With an abundance of vim, every month more than one hundred twenty-something young Ghanaians come together to break out of their comfort zones, build new connections and discover new ideas they say they hope will change the future of Ghana. This most recent event was the fifth bar camp in the capital city of Ghana’s Central region and the 49th in the series led by the GhanaThink Foundation, under the BarCamp Ghana project.
Plan Today, Results Tomorrow
The bar camp team at Cape Coast set out with the theme, ‘equipping the youth to plan their future today’. The morning got off to a quick start with campers dissecting what it means to ‘equip’ the youth,
“The youth of today are not aware of what they are capable of doing. Those who say they can do anything, can do nothing.”— Emanuella Godlove Osei, (linkedin)
A journalist with the GBC, Emanuella Godlove Osei dusted the sugar off it all. She said, for young people to be ‘equipped’ first requires some self-searching. She said individuals have to make time to identify what they’re good at and then be confident in that.
Tara Squire, a Sales and Marketing Director with Tigo, also challenged those in attendance to look within themselves before starting off on their path to entrepreneurship,
“Until you sort out who you want to be, you’ll have issues. No amount of education can fix that.”— Tara Squire, (@niiobodaisquire)
While Zikiru, may have come to bar camp with a plan in place, Basharat Said appeared to arrive nervously to her first bar camp and only after receiving encouragement to attend from BarCamp Ghana team lead, Kofi Yeboah (@kofiemeritus). But soon after arriving, Said’s tenacious spirit began to emerge. Bash, as she prefers to be called, said she’s always had an eye for fashion and after completing high school, knew that was the field she wanted to be in. But she said, it was not what her family wanted for her,
“It was really hard. My parents were not sure about it but I had to make some outfits to show them that I could really do it.”— Bash Said
Now, in her first year at the university, Said is majoring in Clothing & Textiles and said the bar camp sessions have inspired her. She said she’s now planning to help diversify the Ghanaian fashion industry with an environmentally-conscious clothing and accessories brand.
“Today, I was part of the recycling breakout session and it made me think about all the things I can do as someone who is into design and fashion. There is so much plastic waste in our communities. We can take it and make bags out of it. And in the Upper West, where I come from originally, there is a lot of bamboo. The women there weave the bamboo to make chairs but I also want to help them learn how to make something nice for themselves, like accessories, using the same bamboo and beautiful textiles.”— Bash Said
Passion with a Purpose Plus Brings Success
While Said gained some needed confidence from her participation in the camp’s sessions, the sense of purpose Osei and Squire said is critical to achieving success came more naturally to Zikiru,
“After I wrote my high school BECE exams in Agriculture, my results came in and I did well and that’s when I knew I had the potential in me somewhere.”— Shaibu Zikiru, (@DhikrAlZikir)
Since then, Zikiru said he has faithfully followed this path. He is an active member of Deep Thinkers, an agribusiness club on campus and said the group’s goal is to make organic produce available to students using advanced machinery and new technology. Zikiru described the group’s latest project preparing to launch,
“There are a lot of guys who sell coconut on campus. They make a lot of money. But sometimes using the cutlass to cut the shell open is not always easy or clean. We have researched and found a machine that can drill a hole in the shell so that people can get their coconut quicker and just drink out of a straw.”
For Zikiru, improving the lives of students on campus is just a beginning. Although far from his hometown of Koforidua, the 22-year-old said he knows there is no better place for him to use his talents. Once he returns home, Zikiru said he would like to start a chain of abattoirs that use efficient machinery and follow safer laborer practices and sanitation processes. Squire said Zikiru is what he calls a “creator” rather than a “consumer”, someone who has identified a need in their community with a goal of making an impact locally.
Whether or not participants come with any goals at the start, the expectation of the bar camp team is that everyone leaves “educated”, said Herbert Acheampong, Marketing Coordinator for BarCamp Takoradi.
“ We look to ignite the passion of people to help society and develop it in their own small way.”— Herbert Acheampong, (@akyherb)
By developing a strong network of mentors and innovative collaborators, BarCamp Ghana is helping its participants realize their visions for a successful future as entrepreneurs. With more events scheduled in the coming months, the BarCamp team said their goal is to continue to equip Ghanaians with actionable information and access to more resources that will lead them on pathways to future success.
Looking for more info on BarCamp Ghana or interested in starting your own ‘un-conference’? check out our, “10 Things to Know: Running a BarCamp”