They are all Opportunities
by Kwami Williams
What do I love about Ghana? I love the year round sun, drinking coconuts by the roadside, knowing I’m one (maybe two) relationships from almost anyone in the country. But most of all I love that Ghana is full of problems. I love that each of these problems are opportunities to create value for people, to innovate, to serve, to learn, to be challenged, and, for my business people reading this, to make money. This mind shift takes effort but is so worth it.
I first returned to Ghana in June 2013, after 13 years abroad. At first, all I did was compare. “In America we have ‘X’, in America ‘Y’ works.” Or I would rant about why the seemingly “obvious” didn’t exist. America is far from perfect but, let’s face it, Ghana is broken. The road to my house floods whenever it rains. I’ve pre-paid my electricity but the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) decides when my power works. I’m living off the water in our reserve tank...it’s been 2 days without grid water. The disconnect between policy and reality gets even worse in rural communities...basically name it and something in Ghana is NOT as it ought to be. Frustration, confusion, and complaints clouded my day until I heard these simple words from my uncle: “Every problem is an opportunity.” These words liberated me and became the lens that allowed me to leave my pity party and fall head-over-heels in love with Ghana.
Every moment that I consciously decide to focus on the opportunity a problem exposes rather than the problem itself, I discover something new. I now have a running seven page document of opportunities: gadgets, new systems, not-for-profit services, business ideas to introduce to Ghana. Each opportunity began as a problem I used to complain about but now is 1-3 sentence idea that can be built upon to effect positive change. Not all my ideas are good. Maybe only three ideas out of the seven pages are actually worth trying and the reality is that there’s not enough time in the day for me to implement all these ideas.
The key point is this: having an opportunity lens will transform your mind to be in a much healthier place and actually fill you with excitement and, dare I say, “love” for Ghana. It diffuses the get-togethers with friends that turn into complaining parties. For me, it keeps me from quitting on the tough days as I work on my passion and life's work, which is to use everything God has made to provide products and services that are sustainable and most importantly, help people. I’m living this out through MoringaConnect, a social venture I co-founded in Ghana. We help rural farmers increase their income (3x-10x) by turning their moringa seeds into our award winning moringa oil beauty brand, True Moringa (@truemoringa), and their leaves into a line of moringa tea products under our superfood brand, Minga Foods (@mingafoods).
So from today, you’ve got 99 problems but they are all opportunities. Reflect over your day and note everything that you complained about or that frustrated or disappointed you about life in Ghana. Ask yourself, what is the hidden opportunity here? How can this opportunity be realized? Who can champion this idea without me or work with me to make this a reality? When is the right time? Fall in love with Ghana, with its problems, and even more with the opportunities they present. Let that love lead you to making the change we need in our beloved Ghana.
About the author: Kwami Williams is passionate about building things that work well and help people. He is learning every day how to do that through MoringaConnect, a social venture working with over 1600 farming families to grow the moringa tree and turn its produce into food and cosmetic products for consumers globally. He enjoys singing, dancing, playing sports, and tinkering. He is married and has 5 dogs: Mori, Ringa, Princess, Chale, and B2.