Saturday, May 06, 2006

Network Weaving in West Africa

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been in Ghana working with a United Nations project that is bringing together West Africans to weave a regional network.

First, I have to say that Ghana is a wonderful and exciting place. The country is increasingly stable, and entreprenurship is alive along every street, where everything from handcarved beds to toilet paper are being hawked by local--usually very young--entrepreneurs. Reminds me of China when I was there in 1994 for the Womens Conference and saw the first signs of what was to become the China of today.

The people I met were wonderfully friendly and accepting--virtually everyone you pass will make eye contact and give you a greeting and a smile. I can't tell you how good it feels to be surrounded by this all day. If you have a chance, I urge you to visit. Many of the trees are a riot of bloom, and are filled with a chorus of birds trilling delightful melodies.

The challenge of weaving a regional network here is great--West African speak French, English or Portugeuse plus their tribal languages, so communication is difficult. But the potential of regional markets and a regional capacity to solve problems are huge motivators to collaboration.

More later.....

3 comments:

steveg said...

June,
Did you bring a camera? I'd love to see pictures posted.
Steve

Jack said...

This is a good example of how we cannot authentically help people grow networks unless we love the people themselves.

SteveHabibRose said...

Let's do it!

Looking forward to weaving some of our "African Connections" together with your initiatives. To start with, please visit and consider joining The African Connection at http://www.africanconnection.biz If you're comfortable introducing yourself to Larry Osei-Kwaku, please do so. Otherwise, I'll be happy to make an introduction.

A friend and associate named Sala lives in Seattle, but was with the Peace Corps in Ghana. She is starting a nonprofit called Okyeame to foster sustainable business development in Ghana. Okyeame is a Twi word that refers to somebody who makes connections on behalf of a chief or a village etc.

She has introduced me to several people who may be interested in participating in various ways -- including a man named Agyeman who is the communications director for World Vision for central Ghana (Kumasi area). A friend of hers runs an organization called Village Volunteers which is launching a project in Ghana. And, my guess is that Sala herself would be thrilled about the opportunity to weave her work together with yours.

There are a whole bunch of other connections already. I introduced Sala to a man named Walter Deffor, who lives in London, but is originally from Ghana. His company specializes in fostering telecommunications related businesses. And, he wants to "give something back" to the mother country. People from the African Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest may be interested in getting involved etc.

Looking forward to weaving with you folks...

This is so exciting :-)