Last week, we enjoyed an intensive four days with of all of the entrepreneurs from the participating companies. During the sessions, Stanford professors taught classes on Operations and Strategy, and we broke into small groups to discuss cases (e.g. how to run triage at a refuge camp and how to look out for the “bottleneck” in a production facility). These small groups were just like Business School. Each entrepreneur also developed his or her own ‘Business Model Canvas’ and the coaches were able to assist and guide as needed. It was very productive and lots of fun.
Jan had a chance to organize a dinner for the ladies in the group. Needless to say, the men were jealous!
Also, one evening, the Nigerians brought a cake and sang the Nigerian anthem as a tribute to their national holiday.
We “bookended” this interesting week with other activities as well: Right before the intensive session, we volunteered as photographers for the Accra international Marathon. When we signed up, we didn’t realize that this would mean getting up at 4 am to be able to “shoot” the runners at the start.
We made it to the start line in the nick of time, and then drove the route in a car, taking photos out the window along the way.
In true Ghanaian style, drummers created a pulsating beat at the start and at the finish line.
By 9 am, we were pooped, so we returned to our apartment and went back to bed to get ready for the SEED session, which started at 4 pm.
After the sessions were over, we spent Saturday on a day trip to the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River. This large dam, built in 1965, created the largest man-made lake on the planet. It has since been passed by the lake created by the Three Gorges Dam in China and others, but it is still huge—covering 8,502 square kilometers (3,283 sq mi), which is 3.6% of Ghana's land area!
And, on Sunday, we hosted a barbeque for a very international crowd. We noticed that our neighbor from the Saudi embassy, Sultan, has a barbeque, so we asked him if he’d let us use the barbeque for a party, as long as he would attend! He readily agreed and also offered the services of Hussein, his “cookerman”, who was an expert at the grill!
We originally planned to host the barbeque at the pool area, but right before the party was to begin, Sultan, our new friend, suggested the roof top deck on the top of his building. This turned out to be a great idea, since the views were fantastic and there was a combination of shade and sun. Ed posted a sign at the pool, and we could wave to anyone coming into the apartment complex from the 7th floor deck. When the party started, we had no idea how many would attend, but we ended up with over 20 people, which was a perfect number.
In attendance, were guests from many countries – Russia, India, Singapore, Ghana, US, etc. Most had founded companies or are currently in the process of founding a company. Interesting!
Now we’re back to work – we’re off to Nigeria tomorrow to see our companies there. It’s nice that we’ll be able to fly together, share the driver, and stay at the hotel together. We continue to feel blessed to have the opportunity to share this experience with so many interesting people.