Organizing WIDU workshop series for the African community

Imagine your money transfers to family in Ghana were doubled with free funding. Thus, when you send 250,00 EUR for instance, the recipient (family) will not only receive the initial amount but is additionally given a free grant of 500,00 EUR. However, the only requirement for receiving these funds is registering on an online platform and proof that the transferred money is used for business purposes. Now stop imagining because this is real!

Within the African Diaspora in Germany, the FoG International Services team (FoG-IS) has promoted the above presented online platform, called WIDU. WIDU, an initiative launched by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), is an innovative way of creating employment and improving income in African countries. It is also a measure to boost African entrepreneurship, a goal which perfectly correlates with the goals of FoG-IS.

From November 2019 till March 2020, we organized a total of ten successful WIDU workshops all over Germany and counted an overall attendance of 150 interested participants. These participants were of different generations, ranging from 16 to 60+ years of age and from different origins such as Ghana, Cameroon, Nigeria, Germany and Eritrea.  

Here are some insights into our challenges in the planning process:

 Challenge #1: Reaching our target group

A major challenge was reaching our target group. Most FoGG Business events target Afro-Germans who are up to 35 years of age. Our tight network within this group allowed us to have two well attended workshops. Invitations were sent via social media. The WIDU platform however is also for mums, dads, aunties and uncles and they often don’t follow us on social media. 

We, the project management team (Daniel Tiemor, Louisa Schätz and myself), realized we had to be more creative about the used communication channels. Nowadays, influencer marketing is the new way of promoting and reaching target groups. Therefore, we brought on board Hamburg’s very own MC Charity Asante a known and trusted face to feature in a video ad. This was shared mainly on Facebook and Whatsapp and it unlocked the door to participants outside our network. In Düsseldorf and Berlin, we mainly profited from the tight structures of church communities. With the help of well-connected religious leaders, the workshops outside our home base turned out to be very well patronized.

Challenge #2: Conceptualizing the workshop

As money has always been a rather sensitive topic, the workshop required a convincing concept and a clear structure. 

 To outline our agenda whiles minimizing challenges we opted for the following:

We envisioned an easy and relaxed atmosphere during the workshop.“Good Food equates to Good Mood” was our secret formula. Ghana Aba Abrokyire and Fredano Catering provided us with delicious Ghanaian dishes, making everyone feel comfortable and ready to talk business. 

Secondly, we expected a lot of new faces and our main goal was to build trust. Lucy Larbi and Martina Offeh – the trainers – achieved this by introducing FoG-IS and clearly explaining the key aspect of the work we are involved in. Under the third agenda point, a presentation of the concept and aim behind WIDU was given, including an explanation of the overall application and investment process. Further, initiators of the platform were introduced as well as a presentation of testimonials from successful WIDU applicants. As a result, we were able to explain the role of remittances in African countries. Our participants gained an insight on how development cooperation has worked over the years and were also convinced WIDU is an expression of the need to involve the Diaspora in this discourse.

We then progressed by going through the platform step by step. The goal was to eliminate the idea that WIDU requires a long and draining application process and also show that even people with no technical affinity can easily operate the user-friendly platform. Finally, we left enough time for questions. Participants were given a chance to query any aspects that may have not become clear during the presentation. To be able to answer questions accurately, we were also live connected with our contact person at GIZ.

Challenge #3: Staying connected

An important aspect we initially didn’t think of presented itself right after the workshops. We had to stay relevant even after the events by providing a means to stay connected with workshop participants. 

Make your work visible! Once people see it, its success will attract new interested participants. Our workshop sessions were documented on social media channels via Instagram story posts, feed posts and photo collages (https://fog-germany.de/widu-projekt). Therefore, we were able to spark interest in new prospects. However, we soon realized that some of them were not resident in the cities that were visited. Our solution to that problem: Skype workshop sessions! This in particular taught us to be flexible even after all the planning.

Personal Tip: Don’t get lazy with admin work!

One last tip and without going into too much detail: Do not underestimate the administrative work! Negotiating and drawing up contracts, budget management, paying invoices, communication with project partners etc. – these tasks are time consuming!

Now can you imagine joining the WIDU movement? 

For more information on WIDU visit: https://widu.africa

For more information on FoG-IS visit: https://fog-germany.de/international-service

 

About me:

My name is Sarah Owusu and I joined Future of Ghana Germany in April 2018. I am part of the FoG-IS Team and responsible for the organisation of Community Events. Besides volunteering, I am a junior lawyer and currently training at the district court in Itzehoe. In my opinion, FoGG symbolizes Black Excellence, Growth & Unity, that is the reason why I joined.

de_DEGerman