Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Can A Young Woman Have Older Male Mentors in Ghana?

As many of you know by now, I'm now a full-time entrepreneur. I want to succeed. I want to make some millions. Which is why I was heartened to be in the company of people who have already achieved this level of success in Ghana last week. I was truly inspired by these men. They've spent the last 10, 20 years building their businesses and they seem as energetic as ever.

I was excited to meet them, and excited to see that they seemed genuinely interested in me and what I'm doing and considered me the next generation of Ghanaian entrepreneurs. When they gave me their personal numbers, I remember thinking...wow...only in Ghana do I get to meet the business giants and to have this kind of ready access to them. 

A number of them called to check on me and to invite me to events. It's called networking. So I want to go. People don't do business with people they don't know. Or like. Or trust. How will they know and like, and trust me if they don't spend any time at all with me? If I were a guy, I wouldn't have to think twice about this. I'd just accept their invitations and go. And go again, and sleep over, and travel this country with them and learn from them?

But I'm not a guy. I'm a woman. A woman engaged to be married.

So, how can I take advantage of the benefits of networking with people you want to be like when an overwhelming percentage of them are men? If the businesspeople you know and admire are men, can you still learn from them without ending up in their bed?

Exactly 2 years ago, I wrote an article titled a new kind of relationship in which I raised the same concern. At the time, I was aba fresh, and correspondingly naive. Now I know, it's not that simple. You want to impress these men. You don't want to piss them off. But you also don't want to sleep your way to the top. You want to do this entrepreneurship thing for real. You're not interested in chopping anyone's money. You just want to learn from them. How does one go about establishing that kind of relationship? There's a thin line. If you're too hardcore, they'll just not invite you anywhere. And you won't get to know them.

Someone please tell me me how.


Monday, November 15, 2010

8 New Reasons To Love Ghana's Young Elite

1. We Don't Miss Any Opportunity To Remind You That We're Special

You mean to say you didn't go to CTK? You don't know what CTK stands for?


Or say you meet a new group of boys and they ask..
Boss, den you dey Cape?

Your response: No.




Presec? By this time your smile has faded and all that's left is the
awkward silence ringing loudly in your ears.

Even better...you attend one of these gatherings of over-schooled self-important people, and the first person on the panel starts talking, and she's goes like
Back at HBS....

when you hear this, you die a little inside. And if your husband or boyfriend or bff is around, you turn to look at their expression.


He's already died and come back to life.

Last Sunday in Church, when the first time visitors were asked to introduce themselves, one woman got up. Very confidently...My name is Araba Mensima-Mends. I am here with my husband....Dr. Paa Kwesi Mends. We live at Trassaco. And even though we don't really like dogs, we have 6 rottweilers and 4 dobbermans hehe.

Okay, I made up the dogs and Trassaco bit but you get the idea. I was sitting next to one of my loveables (another name for good friend coined in the Cleland household....see how i just reminded you i'm special?) and he looked at me, and shook his head and I smiled.

We get it. You have a husband and he's a doctor. lovely. Now I wish I had a doctor for a husband too

2. We Love Talking About Starting A Business
Besides our education and our doctor husbands, another of our favorite topics is business ideas. Everyone is registering some business or other. Especially when we're aba fresh (tr: newly arrived). Our small world is abuzz with talk about this business or that business or some deal or other they're trying to broker.

3.We Love Talking About Traveling.
We want you to know that we're traveling. But we don't exactly know how to come out and tell you point blank that we are one of those lucky ones who can up and leave this sorry country behind whenever we want. We love it even more when the trip is only for a week or days. That tells you that we have arrived. Arrived at the stage in life where buying an ordinary plane ticket is well, no biggie. I mean, didn't we go to SA for the World Cup?  And to Paris to visit our old room mater, And Singapore, and Dubai and even Australia. I mean...when my company wants to train me, they don't send me to any locally organised workshops o... they fly me and pay per diem too.

Whether it's the cute text message you get from your friend  at the airport saying "I'm going to Abrokyire" Or someone making a comment about their "globe-trotting" friend, we juuuust want you to know...we fly.

4.  We Love The Toyota Corolla
Dude. Have you looked at the cars on our streets? Everybody is driving a Toyota. According to P. A of Ghana Customs, Toyota Corollas are now called Pure Water. Because well, they're everywhere.

5. Weddings For Show
You're not officially elite unless you have a wedding that get covered in some magazine. And you can't really have one of dem weddings where they hand you the doughnut in tissue paper. Lol. And.....you can't not have a wedding where the wedding dress did not come from Abroad. Nope. Unless you're me, of course:)

6. Sophisticated Outings
I don't know squat about jazz. I don't particularly like it. I think it's okay but give me Koo Nimo or Eugene Kyekyeku anyday. Or even something from Senegal. Music. Good music. I love Reggae. Lucky Dube. Yesssir! Give me some Lauryn. Give me some White boy music. Jason Mraz? Check. Jack Johnson. You have me. But Jazz? Nope. Not my thing. Poetry? Nope, I don't get that. But ask me the number of times I've had to tag along with my sophisticated friends to go to Jazz Clubs, Go listen to  Spoken Word. The Nubuke Foundation hasn't helped matters. lol. Shout out to you, Odile Tevie. Much love to you. I'll be getting in touch.
 I mean +233 is the hottest new joint. Maybe it satisfies the wannebes in us. But I also think it's about broadening horizons. So I approve.  I haven't even mentioned the salsa craze. One of my longtime buddies is a salsero. I know. Ask again. Aboa ben so ne salsero?

Speaking of sophisticated outings, I recently discovered 2 new joints. The A lounge which is inside the trade fair centre and The Whizzy Lounge, which is on the ARS road in Madina. Both places are perfect if you want to get away from the crowds for a cozy romantic time. 

7.We Love To Let You Know We Know Our Alcohol.
We want to remind you that we only drink single malt whisky. We probably have a booklet about the proper way to drink wine. We love names like Grand Marnier, Jack Daniels and Jagermeister. And we want you to know that we drink it straight. 

8. Natural Hair Sisters
Natural hair has become quite big among the young elite sisters in Accra. I dig it.  I don't have much to day about it, except that I hope it trickles down to the masses. 

Can you think of any thing else that characterizes the young elite in Ghana?