Early 2014 I became a member of the RSA (Royal Society of the Arts) Diaspora Changemakers. Diaspora Changemakers is a project that seeks to identify and bring together the UK’s most promising individuals of African origin with a desire to support African communities in the UK and Africa. Led by the RSA with Comic Relief and Unbound Philanthropy, this project involves a number of activities, among them a UK-wide recruitment campaign to identify our Diaspora Changemakers, leadership development courses to build their capacity for making change, and the creation of the Changemakers Network that enables us to meet online and offline to share ideas and advice.
As a result of the fantastic project I participated on The Common Purpose Diaspora Leadership course which was held in London from 20 – 23 May 2014
The Diaspora Changemakers membership has further helped me to solidify my work ethic in terms of working with creative individuals in Africa. Most recently I have been mentoring a young Ghanaian fashion designer (pro bono) to enable him to apply for a Masters in Rome. Our sessions have been carried out mostly via email and the phone but we now engage through Skype. I regularly mentor a number of my clients through Skype and Blackboard. Equally the platforms have their advantages. Skype is great for quick chat and I can share documents with my mentee. The interface can present some glitches at times but it bodes well for the work we carry out. In addition it is sometimes easier to just email him the documents. Large documents are sent using WeTransfer or Dropbox. You see I have to take into consideration bandwidth for my clients overseas and how much they will have to use in terms of communication vis-à-vis email, Skype and/ or telephone. You see Internet access as much as it is evolving across the African continent is not as up to speed as it is in Europe and this is something that one has to take into consideration. Call costs to Ghana can be really expensive, however, to call the UK from Ghana is cheaper although not if you are on a Ghana wage packet. It is scenarios such as this which make me feel that at least I can contribute in some way as a diasporian and hopefully enable a positive change in someone else’s life.
Fellowship with The Royal Society of the Arts has been an advantage as this has not only provided access to a prestigious number of contacts but the added benefit of being able to utilise their wonderful building as an extension to my mobile office. As I am on the go all the time it is difficult to have a permanent office. The majority of my business meetings take place here. I gave up my lovely office on Brick Lane in 2012 when I moved to Ghana and to be honest I don’t actually miss it. I carry out a majority of my online sessions here as the space provides me with a quiet environment and easy access to the city should I need to dash off to a client meeting in town so overall in terms of convenience the space is second to none.
It really is something to be able to give back and make a positive change, altruism is a good thing!