Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook, visited the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana on Wednesday this week to meet with Ghanaian entrepreneurs and see how they are working to build sustainable technology businesses. Later in the day he witnessed the force of Ghana’s creative talent in an event at ANO Gallery, which was co-hosted by ANO Gallery and Bless the Mic.
Chris’s visit is part of a week-long trip to Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal where Chris is keen to understand how creatives, developers and entrepreneurs are using mobile technology to create services, content and businesses that address local needs.
(TOP: Chris Cox – seated, right; Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Director of Strategic Partnerships – standing, middle; Emeka Afigbo – standing, left; Jorn Lyseggen, Meltwater CEO and Founder of MEST – standing, right – and Kate Sarro, Managing Director of Meltwater – seated, left. BELOW: MEST’s Edwin Tsatsu Selormey, Julius Odai and Edmond Mensah).
Says Cox: “With Facebook and its family of apps, we aim to give people around the world the ability to connect with each other, grow their businesses and tell their own stories. I am excited to see how Ghana’s entrepreneurs are using mobile, video and other technologies to build products and services that empower the community and that address local needs or solve local problems in innovative ways.”
The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology and the MEST Incubator program provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs with the goal of creating globally successful companies that create wealth and jobs locally in Africa. Each year top graduates from Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa are selected to receive comprehensive training across the spectrum of skills required to build successful tech businesses, including computer programming, software development and product management.
Jorn Lyseggen, CEO of Meltwater and Founder of MEST, says: “We’re excited to host Facebook at MEST and to share how we can work together to drive innovation in Africa. Mobile technology is giving people in Africa new opportunities to become entrepreneurs and content creators – and we were proud to show the Facebook team how young companies and entrepreneurs on our programme are making a difference.”
Nana Opoku Agyeman-Prempeh, CEO, Asoriba, says: “Churches are one of the oldest and most powerful forms of social networking. Platforms such as Asoriba and Facebook help them give their congregations access to more information and stay in touch with churches and congregation members worldwide, especially in the diaspora.”
Edwin Tsatsu Selormey, CEO, Devless, says: “Thanks to the cloud, African startups can get to market with solutions tailored to the needs of their own territories as well as target a global customer base. We are pleased that companies such as Facebook are investing in and supporting Africa’s growing technology industry.”
Cox later attended an event at the ANO Gallery where he was part of a panel discussion with art, music, food and fashion design entrepreneurs, discussing how they use the Facebook and Instagram to tell powerful and engaging stories to audiences in Ghana and beyond.
Director of ANO Institute of Contemporary Arts Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, says: “I was very happy to introduce some of Ghana’s talented artists to the team at Facebook. I am passionate about showcasing Ghana’s art and cultural narratives to the world and platforms like Facebook offer powerful new ways do that.”
The event brought together a host of local talent including Bless the Mic, a platform for local and international artists to showcase their talent in Ghana. Bless the Mic began in 2006 where they organised weekly small scale open-mic nights in bars and pubs across Accra for young poets and hip hop artists to rhyme and battle. In 2017 things are now on a larger scale, Bless The Mic has graduated to big concert events whilst helping to launch the careers of many of Ghana’s now leading musicians.
PY Addo-Boateng Creative Director of Bless The Mic said: “Facebook and Instagram have given music fans new ways to interact with their favourite artists and bands – from behind the scenes photos to LIVE videos from gigs. For Bless the Mic it’s been one of the ways we’ve been able to to take Ghanian music to people across the world. But more than that, it has enabled us to be part of a global community that is truly passionate about creativity and music.”
Ghanaian musician M.anifest appeared on the panel and said, “We have some really compelling stories to share in Ghana, not just with other Ghanaians but with audiences around the world. The remarkable thing about Facebook is that it gives us cutting-edge and exciting new ways to connect with people and to tell our stories ourselves and in our own way.”
Chris Cox said: “Stories matter, whether it’s the stories of our lives or the story of Africa’s growth and ascendance. We want Ghana’s storytellers — the musicians, the filmmakers, the bloggers — to take their stories to the rest of the world. I’ve been honoured to meet some of Ghana’s top talent today and hear how they are using technology to share their stories and perspectives within Ghana and around the globe.”