Tag: technology

Ghanaian women at the heart of social enterprise


This post was first published on ‘Africa on the Blog’ website in honour of Ghana’s 60th year of independence. In celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m re-posting here. Enjoy!

It’s not business as usual in Ghana. The rise of social enterprises is becoming a major player in Ghana’s economic environment, and Ghanaian women are boldly navigating their own routes, through this landscape.

Gone are the days when being an entrepreneur was only about making profit. Over many years, the ‘social entrepreneur’ has shifted the prism, through which we interpret business success. Using business acumen to drive social and environmental change, the social entrepreneur empowers communities exponentially while re-investing the majority of profits back into the business.

In October 2016, the British Council published the results of an Overseas Development Institute (ODI) survey on the impact and growth of social enterprises in Ghana. Particularly, the study found how the rise of social enterprises is empowering women across the country. Of the thousands of social enterprises believed to exist in Ghana 98 were surveyed. However, the results were still interesting, mirroring what’s been shown in mainstream media.

The tubular grass plant, Bamboo is said to be one of the fastest growing plants in the world and does so abundantly in Ghana. While the idea of making bikes out of bamboo has been around for over 100 years, the socio-ecological enterprise, Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative (GBBI) has been riding the wave of international acclaim since its conception in 2009.

Founder, Bernice Dapaah was invited to join the World Economic Forum’s community of Young Global Leaders in 2014, after winning the International Women Alliance World of Difference Award the previous year.

Ghana Bamb bikes 1 .jpg

Photo credit: Ghanabamboobikes.org

Already securing United Nations (UN) funding, GBBI aims to address some of the problems with climate change, poverty, rural-urban migration and high unemployment amongst young people in Ghana. Locals, many without previous training in the manufacturing of bamboo bikes are taught specialist skills; with the workforce being majority women. GBBI provides employment opportunities for (un)skilled workers, while having a direct impact on reducing poverty in rural areas.

Ghana Bamboo bikes 2

Photo credit: Ghanabamboobikes.org

The ODI study, also found that around 40% of social enterprise leaders in Ghana are women. Many have ambitious growth plans, but admit securing funding is one of their biggest barriers. Educational social enterprises are most prevalent and clustered in the capital, Accra. Followed closely by agricultural social enterprises, which tend to be in northern Ghana. However, there are enterprises operating in the manufacturing and service industries. Social enterprises are becoming a staple component of Ghana’s business sector.

ghana Code Club 3

Photo credit: ghanacodeclub.org

 

There’s no doubt we live in a digital world, whether you like technology or not, it’s part of our daily lives. Founded by Ernestina Appiah (pictured below), the Ghana Code Club (GCC), an after-school computing club, runs in 13 schools across the country. It aims to empower children to embrace and thrive in this digital age. The Phoenix Project was set up in collaboration with iSpace Foundation Ghana, in summer 2016 to encourage children (especially girls) to use technology as a form of fun self-expression.

ghana Code Club 4.png

Photo credit: ghanacodeclub.org

Technology plays a crucial role in the development of any country but it needs to be understood, before it can be implemented and used to provide families with any financial security. While leaning basic computer skills, children attending GCC also learn how to create their own websites, games and animations. These transferable skills will be invaluable to them and their communities, as they become future entrepreneurs, analysts, problem-solvers, engineers or scientists. A few days ago, GCC hosted a hackathon competition, which saw more than twenty schools compete against each other. The wining program was a piano application designed using Scratch programming software. The NPP manifesto acknowledged the importance of computer technology education. The party pledged to provide free WiFi in some educational intuitions and support computer programs for students who want to pursue a career in the sector.

Of course, children are the future, but all sections of Ghana’s society need to play a role in the country’s development. Ghana’s ‘women who code’ network provides women with tech skills to become economically independent. On 6th March 2017, Ghana celebrates 60 years of independence. While the new president stated that Ghana is “open for business” from international investors, Ghanaians are collaborating with each other, carving out their own future.

In his first state of the nation address on February 21st 2017, the newly elected Nana Akufo-Addo, stated that Ghana’s economy has serious problems. Targets of loan repayments to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) urgent fiscal intervention in 2014 have not been met and high youth unemployment plagues the country. Continuing in his address to parliament, Akufo-Addo stated, “if I were to ask you to tell me what the number one problem was in your constituency, I suspect there would be a uniform answer: JOBS.” Promises were also made to “unleash the suppressed potential” of the Ghanaian economy, so that Ghanaian entrepreneurship can flourish. It’s unfortunate the words of Ghana’s first president, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah who (along with others) fought for independence from British rule, are still pertinent to Ghana’s development today. Despite some positive gains, there is still a lot of work to be done.

Countrymen, the task ahead is great indeed, and heavy is the responsibility; and yet it is a noble and glorious challenge – a challenge which calls for the courage to dream, the courage to believe, the courage to dare, the courage to do, the courage to envision, the courage to fight, the courage to work, the courage to achieve”.

Ghana’s prosperity lies not in the hands of the government alone but in the hands of her own people too. It looks like Ghanaian women are courageously taking on the responsibility in a sustainable way and ready for the challenge ahead.

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UK Black Tech is ready to shake up the industry


I love Twitter! Along with funny memes, it’s become a platform where I consume a lot of my news and find out about cool events. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across the Launch of UK Black Tech, hosted at the very impressive Bloomberg London offices.

The occasion was fitting of the venue.

uk-black-tech-booklet
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I didn’t know what to expect, but listened attentively to the UK Black Tech team as they laid out their 100 Year Plan building an inclusive tech economy and unlocking cultural diversity. The aim is to have a burgeoning online space, where tech individuals and digital business are given tools they need to thrive, in one of the most dynamic industries in the world.

For most of us, seeing someone we can relate to can be a catalyst for igniting a passion within, that could otherwise stay dormant. The UK Black Teach team, have carved out their own careers within the tech industry and are keen to lend a helping hand to others.

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An extension of this ethos is the #FacesLikeMe campaign, encouraging black tech professionals to use the hashtag stating their tech occupation. This increased visibility along with the support UK Black Tech offers to digital entrepreneurs and tech professionals, aims to diversify the UK tech industry socially and economically.

It was an inspiring evening where young (8–16 year-olds) entrepreneurs gave the audience insight into their startups. We heard how Chocoria is taking her chocolate spread to South Africa, FinTech platforms helping teenagers manage money and improve their financial literacy and Roadman Central, a sportswear price comparison site.

uk-black-tech-chocoria
Photo credit: @ukblacktech Instagram

Technology is all about interactivity and UK Black Tech is no different! To understand the needs of those they aim to help, they’ve launched a survey. I’ve already filled it out and you can too, right here. There are also opportunities to get involved and offer your own skills; find out how.

 

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Is buying makeup becoming too techy?


Whether behind the scenes or at the forefront, technology has been used in cosmetics for years. Whether it be skin, dental or body enhancements. But now technology is becoming an integral piece of the customer buying experience, when it comes to every day makeup.

Walking through the makeup counters during Christmas sales in some of London’s department stores, women are still buying makeup in person. Although, as our lives become busier and with the increased use of personal technology devices, it seems nothing can escape the technology age.

I’ve sat in the chair at a beauty counter, where the MUA tries different shades of blush, eye shadow or face powder. It can be a nice feeling, having your own personal MUA whose only aim is to make you (hopefully) look good/feel great (so they can make that all important sale of course!). However, do we really need that human personalised touch or can we just do it ourselves?

loreal-shade-genius
Screenshot credit: L’Oreal website

To name only a couple, L’Oréal’s Shade Genius and No7 Match Made apps, have given consumers the independence to find their own ‘perfect’ makeup match.

I don’t think MUA’s at cosmetics counters will become obsolete from our department stores, but their necessity will diminish, as cosmetic brands embrace technology and put the power in our hands.

 

make up, lipstick, lip gloss
You can try on lipstick virtually to find a shade you like.

Screenshot credit: thelipbar.com

 

Even smaller brands like, The Lip Bar have a section on their website where you can virtually test which lipsticks and glosses suit you, then buy at the click of a button. You’re busy, on the go, don’t have the time to pop into a shop; select the face shade that is closest to yours and voila!

darkskin models
@Ohwaawaa is the model and face of The Lip Bar

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