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Archive for the ‘Believe Begin Become (Technoserve)’ Category

Entrepreneurs pitch their businesses

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Posted by Rachel Payne, Program Manager, Google.org blog

Last fall, a dozen Google employees served as lecturers, one-on-one consultants, and business plan evaluators for entrepreneurs participating in the Believe Begin Become business plan competition in Tanzania and Ghana. They were very impressed by the participants and winners, and they recognized that entrepreneurs in developing countries rarely get the chance to directly interact with investors to get the funding and support they need for their businesses. Together with TechnoServe, and using FlipVideo cameras, the volunteers filmed the entrepreneurs. Our video production team helped us quickly assemble the videos that now appear on the recently launched Believe Begin Become TechnoServe Channel on You Tube.

On the channel, you will find an inspiring group of entrepreneurs talking about the opportunities and challenges they face running their businesses. In Tanzania, the enterprises that we work with range from selling carbon credits to rebuilding a local high school and running a radio station — businesses that you will have the opportunity to view firsthand on the channel. Perhaps you will be as inspired as we are. People who want to do more to support these small and medium-sized (SME) businesses in Africa and elsewhere, can contribute directly from the You Tube Channel by using the Google Checkout payment option. We hope that sharing these stories will raise awareness of SMEs, provide firsthand accounts of the experiences of entrepreneurs in Africa, and create a direct channel for helping these businesses grow and thrive.

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Written by aheavens

January 16, 2008 at 11:20 am

Continuing to Believe, Begin, Become

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Posted by Stacy Brown-Philpot, Director, Finance – Online Sales, Google – Google.org blog

In partnership with Google.org, Technoserve recently completed the second Believe Begin Become program in Ghana, identifying 10 new winners of its annual business plan competition. As a Google volunteer, I had an opportunity to interact with this year’s participants by teaching a class on presentation skills, judging the final round of the competition, and conducting one on one consulting sessions. I also visited the growing operations of 3 winners from last year and saw firsthand how the Believe Begin Become program has contributed to the success of their business.

I was both impressed and humbled by every entrepreneur I met. They all exhibited a level of energy, passion and enthusiasm that was overwhelmingly contagious. Operating in an environment where sound infrastructure is not a given, poverty is a reality, and health issues abound, they are seeking to create and build sustainable businesses that will change their community and their country for the better.

This year’s top winner of the overall business plan competition, Sheila Ocansey (pictured below, left, with me, right), embodies this energy and passion. With FrutyFresh, she plans to package and distribute quality fresh fruit to local Ghanaian professionals, families, and children. Sheila was thoughtful enough to bring a sample of her product to her oral presentation, something that impressed all of the judges. I craved FrutyFresh fruit for its freshness, quality, and taste throughout the rest of my stay in Ghana. The other top winners include: Darko Abednego, Stanley Adjei, Yaw Agyei-Henaku, Joseph Brenyah, Savior Deikumah, Nikoe Gavu, Mary Koranteng, Daniel Oduro, and Joseph Tettey.

I observed firsthand the promise of what is possible for this year’s winners through visits with three winners from last year. Nicholas Vordzgbe of City Wash launched his mobile car wash service using a highly profitable, environmentally friendly approach to a common activity. City Wash is capable of washing an SUV with just 2 liters of water! His next move includes opening a point of service location and expanding his mobile activities. Isaac Bohulu launched Natural Scientific Pharmaceuticals in a style characteristic of Silicon Valley. In a room that should have been his master bedroom, he is running a government approved production facility for his flagship product, Neemfresh Herbal Mouthwash, made from completely natural ingredients. Finally, last year’s overall winner, Joseph Tackie of MeatyFoods, showed us how a shift in his marketing strategy allowed him to quintuple his revenues in one month. While we sampled the butcher’s spicy sausage, he told us of his plans to open his second store.

The Believe Begin Become program was launched with the hope that we would create an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, investors, customers, and employees that contribute to the growth and economic development of Ghana. Participating in the judging process, seeing the operations in action, and spending time with the entrepreneurs provided evidence that this is exactly what is happening. Participants from last year have become customers and/or suppliers of each other. Last year’s winner was a mentor to at least 3 of the winners from this year. The judges and potential investors have high standards; not only are they funding these businesses, but they are personally engaged and interested in their success. The program creates employment opportunities and causes capital to flow back into communities. With 120 alumni in the Believe Begin Become program, the newly-created alumni association will help fuel and expand on the already growing ecosystem that has been created.

Written by aheavens

October 15, 2007 at 11:26 am

Meet Joseph Tackie

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Posted by Daniel Conrad, Senior Business Analyst, Google on Google.org blog

Joseph Tackie is the CEO of Meaty Foods Limited, a high-end butcher in Ghana. He’s also the winner of last year’s Believe Begin Become (BBB) business plan competition (run by TechnoServe and sponsored by Google.org), and the elected president of the BBB Ghana Alumni Association.

I had a chance to meet with Joseph a few weeks ago in Accra, when Google.org sent me to join this year’s BBB class at their graduation. He told me about the progress of his business one year since his graduation.

DC: I heard that you quintupled sales in one month after winning seed capital from BBB last year. How on earth?

JT: See, the difficulty of our environment is that no investor will give you money for basic things. They expect you to have already made it, to have already become successful before they invest. They are not going to finance your marketing. With the seed capital from BBB, I was able to create a very good billboard. That’s all it took. People would see the billboard and come in and want to see what it was that we were doing. And our sales quintupled in just one month.

Three weeks ago I got my certification from the Ghanaian Standards Board. It cost a lot of money, and this is the type of thing that nobody will finance because they see you as a start-up. Now I can sell to any supermarket in Ghana.When you are a start-up, none of the banks wants to do business with you. But with a little success, now they are chasing you to do business with them.

DC: What are your future plans for your business?

JT: First, we are developing our outlets. We have one store now, we are renovating two more in middle class areas in Accra. We also have a request to set up a similar processing facility in Mali. They have lots of beef in Mali but no high-end processing.

DC: What did you learn from the BBB program?

JT: What really made the difference with the program was the networking. Because the program is organized by entrepreneurs it is very practical. They are like role models. Your anxieties are things they have experienced, so you can share with them.

Working with entrepreneurs breaks down the fears and anxieties. Issues to do with risks are minimized. You are exposed to success. A lot of people are afraid to venture because of the losses they have dealt with. But working with other entrepreneurs enables you to look forward. The obstacles will always be there, but you will be equipped to go around them.

There have been a lot of people saying foreign aid is bad. But this is different. It is like you are teaching me to fish. This BBB program empowered me.

Written by aheavens

September 10, 2007 at 10:33 am