A Brief Take on BBB (Chale Wote 2018)

Guest Contributor, Thursday September 6th 2018

This post was written by Emeka Ndukwe, an entrepreneur in training in the MEST class of 2019.

Sunday 26th August marked the end of the Annual Chale Wote art festival in Accra for 2018, but it was also the last day of the annual sales challenge for new MEST EIT’s called “Bet Buy Barter”. During BBB, EIT’s are divided into groups of 3, and every group gets an initial investment of 20 GHC. They are then given 3 days to turn as much profit as possible….ethically.

Everything at MEST is designed to challenge everything you think about yourself, and hopefully rise to the occasion and challenge, and BBB was no different.

The first day saw the different teams strategizing, setting goals, making big plans as well as trying hard to make more money than the other teams - even though we were explicitly told we shouldn't treat it as a competition.

The first challenge was to increase the initial 20GHC to a more substantial amount that could be used to buy more products which could be sold at Chale Wote in order to turn a profit. EIT’s got very creative here with activities like designing websites for businesses in the area, or striking concession deals with businesses involved with the products they wanted to sell. Some even got jobs in the kitchen. By the end of the day every group had added substantially to the initial capital.

By Saturday morning, some groups had decided that making money within East Legon made more sense than going to Chale Wote. But most groups stuck to the plan, left the residence by 7am and went to begin the sales event at Jamestown where the Chale Wote festival was held.

Immediately once they got to the festival they realised that there was a startup on a publicity drive offering almost all the things they were offering - but for free. The initial reaction from everyone was panic, despair, fatigue etc, but like true entrepreneurs, they all regrouped fast and began to strategize. Alliances were made with groups pooling their resources and manpower in order to make sure they made sales. One group made a deal with a coconut juice salesman in the area; they would infuse the natural coconut juice with alcohol and sell them for him after which they would split the profit. This group sold almost 200 coconuts in 8 hours.

The other groups also made some decent sales at the festival, with one group offering “free” hugs – only after a ‘voluntary’ donation of 1GHC. This group made almost 200GHC!

Saturday night at the residence had a markedly different vibe from the night before. We had all been hit with a healthy dose of humility. 2000GHC plans had dropped to 700GHC, with everyone coming together to give support, share war stories and try to make plans for the next day. A few groups had not broken even yet, but we all obviously needed to refuel.

On Sunday most of the groups who went to Chale Wote the previous day decided to hit the churches around the area and offer products ranging from beads, to Sobolo, puff puff, popcorn etc. This turned out to be a smart  idea, with many selling out their stock. Some groups still went to Chale Wote, and, making use of the experience from the previous day, they made more sales, with most of them making the bulk of their profit that day.

BBB has ended, but it’s safe to say none of us is the same. Hard lessons have been learned which will be used in the future, contacts with the local community have been made which will come in handy within the year of the program, we pushed ourselves physically and mentally, made some money, and most importantly, we had fun!