A Day in the Life of the Fellows
Written by Balloon Ghana Fellows Efua and Laura
5 – 7am:
5am in Cape Coast and a few of the more energetic Fellows are following the Ghanaian example and starting their day early: the Gym Bunnies are doing circuit training in the courtyard before the heat of the day sets in; those who think they have the moves are setting off for a traditional dance and drumming class; meanwhile our resident sailor is on his way to help the local fisherman bring in their catch.
7 – 9am:
As the rest of the Fellows begin to emerge from their slumbers for breakfasts of eggs, pancakes and fresh fruit (and to bemoan the lack of fresh coffee), talk turns to the day ahead. Each team of 2 or 3 Fellows is typically responsible for 5 entrepreneurs and breakfast time is a good opportunity to share yesterday’s triumphs and to consider today’s challenges with the rest of the Fellows. In a group of such multi-faceted and talented people, it shouldn’t be surprising to find that one of the other Fellows can often provide the solution to any issue: whether that be through a new perspective garnered from different experience, or through revelation of an unsuspected talent — “I used to do fashion photography – I’ll take those photos”, “I have a degree in graphic design – that logo will take me no time”.
9 – 12am:
The Fellows are off to ‘work’ – taking shared taxis and tro-tros in order to meet their entrepreneurs at their homes or work places. It is important that in the early stages of the process the Fellows can understand as much as possible about their entrepreneur’s backgrounds, ambitions, skill sets and other potential resources. Often the entrepreneurs undervalue themselves as a crucial asset in the business, and it is key for the Fellows to begin to instil a sense of confidence. Innocent’s Story is a fantastic example.
12 – 2pm:
Lunch-time provides an opportunity to sample some local delicacies. Whether that be a health-giving Moringa and Pineapple juice from BaoBab, the local Vegetarian restaurant; some of Janet’s notorious, spicy noodles from her street kiosk; or some freshly made fufu and groundnut soup. Anyone too busy to sit down might grab a bag of plantain or kelewele from a roadside vendor, and those with a sweet tooth will listen out for the distinctive honk that heralds the approach of a FanMilk vendor.
2 – 5pm:
Once the business idea has been established and the initial business model considered, the Fellows encourage the entrepreneurs to test their idea at as early stage as possible. The ideal is to generate real interest in the product in the form of actual sales – this is incontrovertible proof of the existence of a market. ‘Testing’ can involve anything; trying to sell a product off the street, speaking with local business owners, experimenting with different product variations, or trialling different advertising methods and branding. If one test fails, try something new.
This is arguably the most engaging and exciting part of the process for the Fellows. It is the opportunity to engage face-to-face with the local people and ‘market’, and to see ideas begin to come to fruition. This is the part of the process during which often the greatest breakthroughs are made.
5 – 7pm:
The Fellows begin to return from their various activities for a shower (or rather, a bucket of cold water that is surprisingly appealing after a day in the 35-degree heat) and a couple of sundowners on the terrace. Some of the more conscientious Fellows are beginning to work on the pitch documents and presentations for the final week pitches on behalf of their entrepreneurs. Others are working on personal projects, reading, writing and Skyping home. The Social Committee settle in for a ‘meeting’ (Read: a drink and a chit chat). Upcoming weekend trips are top of the agenda with both ‘Big Millie’s Backyard’ (a beach resort and party destination) and a visit to the Kakum National Park, with one of the world’s highest tree-line walks, to look forward to.
7 – 9pm:
After a quick dinner together, the Events Committee heads off to set up for tonight’s networking event. Fellows, entrepreneurs and other members of the local community gather together for a few drinks and games in order to share ideas, resources and contacts. This doesn’t feel like work, and the Footballing Fellows soon forget that they are missing the Chelsea game…