Monday, January 26, 2009

Data Commons; Why Now

Good Afternoon,

A young and energetic Ghanaian set out six months ago to follow his
heart and build for Ghanaians an online service, one like never done
before, he was going to pay attention to detail, he was going to make
sure the user interface said loads about the service and was not going
to compromise on anything.

So month in, month out he started his building the idea and
researching. He realised that his service will need other services to
run and make sense. Say someones needs to buy wines should the service
tell him he could get one in Accra or Kumasi, of course the one
closest to him, hmm where does he stay: by the main mosque top floor,
now that will be almost impossible right. His dream was dying.

Should this young and energetic guy go out there and now build an
addressing system, catalogue all points of interests and feed data
into Google Maps before he starts his actual service? That's well
known as yak-shaving.

Any ideas?

Alas came BarCampGhana 08 in Accra on the 22nd of December last year,
Emmanuel Okyere was talking data commons in a break-out session and
there, just at that moment he fell in love with the idea. Other people
had made mention of the lack of data but this guy actually had a
solution. His idea was to start and gather as much as he can from the
internet then to apply structure to it and then build on it and the
sweetest part make it open. That sounds like our own google of data
all about Ghana.

Now why is this all so important and why the long story I'm spinning.
Three scenarios:

The HipGuy:
On his mobile phone hipguy wants to find the closest non-visa ATM to
Accra Mall and the fastest route based on current traffic readings to
this place. With a little addition he can text the location to his
friends who look it up via GMaps on phone or PC and Meet up.
Emma's idea is to build the data of such locations and make it
available for third party to build the applications

Where The Heat At:
So this time HipGuy has some AmeriGhanaians visiting and wants to know
which Hotel, Bar, Restaurants or Joint is open till late, or check out
Cinemas and showtimes just a good for place his friends with good
taste and oh kelewele.

Ready To Settle:
Ever attempted to look for a home: buying or renting or some serviced
plots. Google that and you'll get flats in brooklyn and where my man
at, yankee. So to add a little twist to that, what are the schools in
the area like and what kind of people stay in the neighbourhood,
crime, shops and malls.

The scenarios and benefits are endless. Most of the ideas I picked
from my short interaction at BarCampGhana 08. I believe this is the
time for all these ideas and projects and platforms and like Okyere
let's build the data and we'll know what to do with it.

Internet is getting cheaper and cheaper and soon Ghanaians will be
looking for data, at least they'll start from the internet and I think
we should be there.

So for the young and energetic entrepreneurs that is an opportunity;
an opportunity to build the data or to use the data.

The Power Is Yours (if you have the information)

Sent from my mobile device

The World On The Blackberry-2009

This is actually a test post from the BlackBerry. Have had this phone
for about a week now, have played with, read all about it and even
sometimes got dissappointed by it.
But since this will be new baby and will be with me whereever I'll be
I thought I must just as well try to blog from it.
So I've setup a special email in blogger to be receiving my post from
the mail directly sent from the phone via gmail for blackberry. Now
that's something else right.
Well Ghana is definetly going places. With Zain soon to start their
own BlackBerry service (from their Customer Service Personnel) and
most of the networks rolling out 3G services I think the internet is
now coming to Ghana.
If anyone plans to go WEB2.0 for Ghana now is the time.
So let's see if this post gets delivered at all.

Sent from my mobile device

Thursday, December 25, 2008

BarCamp Ghana'08 - The Unconference

For over a year, I have been asking for community for IT and Entrepreneurs, a place to network and share ideas, to get the needed publicity about your products and solutions and a place to feel comfortable knowing there are others just like you or even better ready to help.

BarCamp Ghana '08 was the answer, with over a hundred brains present in one room, it felt like a room full of clusters (klustrs) of a Super Computer Network. We started off a bit late but by the time we were done everyone felt satisfied.

Can't help but share the entire experience with you guys out there. I will walk you through the journey in the next posts.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back After A 59 week Academic Calenda: Africa

For those of you who might be following our blog and probably stopped after a while, well I'll be back soon, with all I've thought about and researched but have no time to put it up.

Well soon my first professional exam as they call it will be over and I'll free again to assume my entrepreneurial and ICT live. To set the ball rolling there was a heated argument as to the reasons African are poor and the need or otherwise of forming an economic partnership amongst African States with an interesting Kofi Opuni Asiama.

These are my thoughts..........

The Origin.

I belief in as much as a lot can be attributed to poor management of our resources and numerous military rulers, that has very little to do with the state of most countries and states in Africa in the next 10-20 years.

Yes our resources were not channeled properly but the current state of most African states and the citizens being poor has more to do with applying state resources and loans to projects aimed at what they think the people need and what the voters want. This might please voters and in some cases target some problems but in the long run might be obsolete in terms of current economic dynamics and the global village.

I'm thinking an example will best explain this. Let’s look at Ghana. As we are now, we cannot, to a huge extent, blame past governments (not even NDC for our economic state). We have the chance to move ahead soundly with the right policies. A few years ago we were OK, cruising, nearing single digit inflation, oil find, HIPC, things were just cool, so what did we do, we gave the people and Ghana something back, stadiums, more roads, over heads, dual carriageways, presidential palace and jets.

Immediately and still during some of these advancements, as if to say Hey! Watch it, the rains fail to drop, Akosombo falls, energy woes, oil rises, food prices rise, Ghana Telecom is dying. Then Ghanaians remember that we are not alone. Now let me ask the Question were the NPP mismanaging funds, did we need a stadium or a farm in the North or perhaps a School, University and maybe a better Teaching Hospital to serve the North? A quick guess...YES YES. But be careful this is the main point everybody in Africa uses to point out bad governance and failing to realise as one economic power we could have better adjusted to these shocks, we could have done an expensive feasibility analysis and research into rainfall patterns and changes and maybe invested in a Nuclear Plant earlier without Ghanaians crying foul. But hey there are schools to build, a lil stadium here and there, some beautiful roads, just to stay in power and make the people smile. So if Ghana Telecom or the economy as a whole is bad today or tomorrow please do not blame, NPP or NDC or Rawlings or even Nkrumah and think Nduom or Mahama will do otherwise. Look at the bigger picture. There's more to do with global changes than we know or even think. With the find of oil and had the economic problems been nonexistent I'm sure we would have built a start of the arts Museum in Kumasi to showcase the rich history and culture of Ghana our motherland.

Relax and think, look at the broad picture. Now not yesterday matters, and tomorrow maybe oil will drop and we'll forget all this.

Upcoming Post.............(Themes)

Global Influences

Resources and So What

The African Business Mind

Where Do We Fit in

Africa, An Economic Superpower!!!

Ghanaians or Africans

India and China, one size can never fit all.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Characteristics of a Successful Entrepreneur

Been a while. I'm being inspired to post this blog because Kobby and I are in the planing phase of our new baby business idea. We hope we'll be able let you all know what happens to our business as we move from planing to implementation.

So this post is about finding within yourself whether you are an Entrepreneur. The following is what i came across in my reading.

Guts: Guts means you must have an entrepreneurial instinct, which is an overwhelming desire to have your own business. You must have the guts and dedication to be completely devoted to your goal. Incidentally, devotion to your goal is much more likely if you have a love for your intended business. Life is too short to start a business that doesn't give you satisfaction and joy. And, through good times and bad times, you will stick with something you love.

Brains: While appropriate educational credentials are important, entrepreneurial "brains" means more than scholastic achievements. To become a successful entrepreneur, you must have a working knowledge about the business you plan to start before you start it. Common sense combined with appropriate experience is the necessary brainpower. Prudence, follow through and attention to detail are very important.

Capital: You will need seed money of your own plus sufficient cash to maintain a positive cash flow for at least the first year. In a future session you will learn how to forecast future cash requirements through cash flow control. Many businesses can be started on a very small scale with a small investment. Then, as the business grows and you gain experience, cash flow from your business can be used for growth. In some cases you don't need starting capital to hire other people because you might start by doing everything yourself. The "do it yourself" start is a good way to learn everything about your business and also makes you better qualified to delegate work to others later on. You can control your risk by placing a limit on how much you invest in your business.

These three will get you going. If you are someone you always has an idea to make things better, then try putting one of them on the drawing board.

An advice, read, read all you can and everything you come across.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Introducing Ghana Business Code

The Ghana Business Code is introduced against the background of trade liberalization, globalization and challenges and opportunities associated with it.

Ghana business, by this initiative, appreciates increased international attention on Corporate Responsibilities (CR) and the 'triple bottom line' that emphasizes performance measurement of corporate, social, environmental and economic responsibilities.

The Code represents three Ps in another sense; a unique Process, a unique Product and unique Possibilities.

The Code is the product concerted effort by multiple stakeholders ranging from large businesses, state enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses, business schools, trade and business associations, unions, financial institutions, consumer and other relevant organizations in both the public and private sectors.

What is the Ghana Business Code?

The Ghana Business Code is a series of prescriptions based on the universal principles referred to in the UN Global Compact 10 Principles, relating to human rights, labour standards, the environment, and anti-corruption.

Compliance with code of conduct is increasingly becoming a requirement in supply chain management, business match-making, business mentoring schemes, financing, national and international procurement.

The Code is intended to present best practices by adding requirement beyond core labour rights. Although, not all human rights are covered, there will be a continues process of updating and refining the Code, which will include annual revisions. The Code does not substitute sound legislation protecting the interests of employees, customers, or shareholders.

Who is it for?

The Ghana Business Code is the first code ever formulated to apply to all segments of the national business community. Continuous strong collaboration between the stakeholders is crucial for the code to become a vehicle for improved business practice to the benefit of the people of Ghana; the stakeholders are committed to establishing awards and other enforcement mechanisms.

Will the Code add value?

The Code may serve to give guidance internally in a company and it may also serve to describe to the outside world how a business as an entity behaves.

The Ghana Business Code may add value to your business in terms of:
  1. Branding opportunity to attract foreign business operations and investment into Ghana;
  2. Potential of replacing costly individual supply chain management system;
  3. Increasing your ability to attract and retain the highest qualified employees;
  4. Increasing employee motivation and loyalty and thereby productivity;
  5. Creating brand value of 'best business practice' towards consumers
It is exopected that all business comply with the laws of Ghana; where laws or specific industry codes provide for additional protection to the one prescribed by the Ghana Business Code, such as protection shall also be ensured.

Download The Code

What are your views........

source: Ghana Business Code

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

My First Experience

This is my first post in a while and it was actually inspired by an essay I wrote for an application. It reminded me of my first hands-on experience in ‘doing business’ the startup way.

This occurred during September 2006, two months after graduating form the university and was an exciting and sobering experience of how together with a couple of friends we decided to actual try out one of our ideas to see what it feels like to be an entrepreneur.

Since we were fresh out of school and habits die hard, it involved organizing a movie show for freshmen during their first four weekends on KNUST campus. The planning for this venture started in a small restaurant on campus as all the guys involved (including my co-author Justin) resided on or around the campus. The ‘meetings’ resulted in three objectives; obtain funds, organize logistics and market the shows.

To raise funds we decided to self-fund a portion of the budget and to collects loans from close friends with a promise of paying one-and-a-half times the amount collected, a decision stemmed from our ‘sciences’ background since none of us had a business majored in business. Funds secured we split into a three teams of two people each.

We defined logistics as seating, electronic equipment, printing and distribution of tickets. Although we capped attendance at 300 (we just chose the number), we booked 350 chairs, the extra 50 being a contingency. We ordered 350 tickets and obtained the electronic equipment by hiring some and borrowing from friends where available. We even had our own custom made speakers from another ‘entrepreneur’ who makes sound devices as a hobby.

Marketing of the show involved use of mono-chrome posters on all public notice boards and more extensively door to door or direct sales methods.

The venue, the most important of all the requirements proved the most difficult, as ‘entertainment’ is usually deemed as a distraction by university authorities and we were refused use of numerous ideal locations. We finally managed to secure the ‘multi-purpose’ Dining Halls of one of the Halls of Residence, with its attendant problems. We were granted access on condition the Hall Students Council were given a part of the profit, an agreement reached only in consensus with the Entertainment Head of the Council, another decision lacking of business sense.

We quickly gathered momentum since our perceived greatest obstacle had been overcome. The first day of the show arrived and we quickly setup seating and the electronic equipment, where quickly means 3 hours or thereabout. With morale at the highest, we decided to sell tickets door to door and use it as last minute publicity. We found a scheme where we went to the rooms of friends of freshmen who had already bought tickets and used their friends purchase as a sales pitch, which worked well. We didn’t have any generating equipment which meant in the event of a power failure, we would be left trying to power 1100Watt projector on sheer willpower. The time advertised arrived and only a handful of people were at the venue, panic slowly started to creep in and tempers rose, each identifying a possible source for the lack of attendance. Luckily it was only the lateness syndrome of students. We quickly started the show and though the attendance did not meet expectation the show went without any major hitches and so ended day one. On the second day things went on a similar note, but we had realized the pre-movie show of popular TV series increased the likely of people coming in and then staying for the show, so we started these 2 hours before the show and it increased the numbers on the second day.

We however encountered a problem where the rest of the council and the Hall Master decided it was against SRC regulations to allow a monopoly for concurrent use of the venue every Saturday and Sunday for 4 weeks and abrogated the agreement. We would only be allowed to do so every 4 weeks. We decided to take the lessons learned from the venture as such and quit the venture since our National Service postings would be in at the next available time for the venue.

The venture helped us experience hands on the problems associated with entrepreneurial pursuits especially where no formal or practical management skills exist among all the proponents of the venture.

In this case we were managed to break even but we realized it was due in part to luck. We paid back what we owed without the rate of return promised but what is a few cedis between friends!

Next Post: Last Minute Syndrome