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Samuel Opoku | Ghana | Provide Value!

My journey begun with volunteering both as a junior consultant and Team Lead for a UK based management consulting firm, Challenges Group, delivering a DFID funded project aimed at growing SMEs in Ghana for 6 months. Through this program I was exposed to the SME/startup world. I went on to work part time and eventually full time with this organization for up to 2 and half years. I worked directly and indirectly with over 200 tech and non-tech SMEs/startups in a space of 3 years by providing internal management, business growth, investment readiness and other SME focused support. This is where I grew my love for working with startups and SMEs across Africa. I then moved on to work with the Delegation of German industry and Commerce in Ghana, where I led an access to market project for tech startups implemented by the tech initiative Make-IT in Africa under the German Development Corporation (GIZ). I built a strong competence and network in the tech ecosystems across West Africa through my role. I currently run my own startup, Start.Up Lounge Africa. We are building an online platform called Kutana Africa to allow startups/SMEs to be visible, connect with one another and access shared resources and tools for business operations and growth.

What books are you currently reading?

The Lean Startup- Eric Ries

Making Futures: Young entrepreneurs in a dynamic Africa- Sangu Delle, The Promised Land- President Barack Obama.

Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your pursuits?

Yes, I did. During my volunteering days my parents didn’t understand exactly what my work was about, especially why I was not earning income or why my social security was not being paid. I had just completed my first degree by then. My Dad (may his soul rest in peace), encouraged me to enroll in the military as that could provide me with a stable income, he said. And I sometimes did really consider it when things got hard.

How did you handle it?

I don’t think I handled it, but I guess I was quite stubborn and refused to give in to their encouragement, even though I knew they did it out of love. The fact that I was not living in my parent’s house during these times also helped me to avoid the constant nagging, which could have been the case.

What would you do differently in hindsight?

Put myself out there faster, taking much more risks, accepting failure as nothing more than a phase I must go through. I would have explored my abilities to do a lot of extracurricular activities, either in school or in the journey of life. Denzel Washington puts it best “fail forward”.

What would you say was the single most influential factor in your success?

First, I wouldn’t call myself successful yet, I am still reaching for it and doing the best that I can. But the key factor for me has always been this: “People make the world go round, not money”. Which means providing value for people and building successful networks is all it takes to be successful. And I am learning how to do that every day.

What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?

It would be being able to internalize things: consistency is key, and perfection takes time.

What advice would you give to an upcoming youth or talents locally and internationally?

Provide value to people then you will be on your way to a life of abundance, whatever that looks like for you. Setting up a good profile and interacting with your target audience on a place like LinkedIn would be a good practical first step.

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