On the Ground in Ghana
Our first day of work in Ghana, we all woke up with major jet-lag after arriving the night before. We battled through the jet-lag though, gulped down coffee and got straight to work.
Our team of six Berkeley Haas students, working via Skype and Box.com with our client organization Axis Human Capital throughout the fall semester, was now in country to wrap-up our project with a full week at their office in Accra. Day one was our first presentation of work we had done before arriving to Ghana – we thought it would just be a casual conversation with a couple employees. Instead, we received the attendance and attention of the whole Axis team, CEO and all! We were incredibly impressed and thankful for the personal time and commitment Axis’ CEO, Esi Ansah, gave us throughout the project. We knew she was already a busy woman; she runs a successful HR consulting company, teaches full time at Ashesi University, and is an active participant in several other initiatives that contribute to her community in Ghana.
Esi was incredibly kind and welcoming – and in our experience, this is a common characteristic of Ghanaians. Whether stopping to ask for directions every other block, running for lunch and shopping errands around town, or trying to arrange a weekend getaway, many of the locals responded with an overwhelming kindness that was second nature.
Young Kim, Katie Fritts Jeremy Gerst, Kyle Rudzinski, Abigail Tinker, and Felipe Gonzalez (all MBA ’14) along with IBD Executive Director Kristi Raube at Axis Human Capital Headquarters in Accra, Ghana
While exploring the city on a client visit to “Industrial Street” and team night bonding sessions at Libadi Beach’s Reggae night, we were surprised by how developed Ghana is compared to our experiences in other developing cities, such as in Southeast Asia. The small-scale street vendors sell a variety of goods including fresh fruit (apples, bananas), cooked snacks (fried plantains), and other goodies like cell phone cases and pillows. We’ve seen a few locals purchase these snacks and cell cases, and these small vendors seem to be filling a legitimate need in the urban Accra market.
Though fair warning to all visitors: tourists still pay the non-Ghanaian premium! However, we were all able to put our negotiating skills to practice, which definitely helped when working a 20 cedis cab ride (about $10USD) down to 7 cedis- still not the actual price given to locals, but close enough for us!
Team Axis on their commute to work in Accra
In our experience thus far, we’ve found Ghana to be a relatively easy place to travel – though we have to couch this statement with the fact that we haven’t gotten far off the beaten track. We live only a 7 cedi (about $3.50USD) cab drive from the international airport and we are staying in the newly developing ex-pat area. We are working in a clean, professional office environment and our living accommodations are very comfortable. The only problem we’ve encountered with our accommodations has been finding the right AC temperature that isn’t too cold for the whole team!
Katie Fritts, MBA ’14