18 May The Rise of Meuse: From Student Entrepreneur to AVI Fellow
From becoming the campus-wide go-to person for repairing cracked phone and laptop screens to introducing Meüse Cab; a transport service for Ashesi students, Mohamed, an AVI fellow believes in approaching problem spaces analytically – regardless of a perceived lack of resources.
In an interview the entrepreneur stated the following:
“Entrepreneurship was inculcated into me since I was a child through my parents. I was involved first hand with their dealings even when I was very little. They were able to recognize my limitations and use them to help me succeed. This was just not a routine, but a process that helped me recognize various problems and draw active links and solutions. At a very young age, I realized the transformative power of entrepreneurship and the impact it could have on the lives of many. With this kind of experience growing up, I am able to look easily for problems and find solutions to them. Entrepreneurship to me has essentially become a calling; a mandatory journey I must take.
Persistence is a skill I saw firsthand in my parents as I grew up. Although businesses may have several challenges and failures, it is necessary to always persevere in them because it is the only way a business can succeed.
Another fundamental skill that has helped me succeed is the need to be versatile. Business environments are always changing and there is always a need to improve on your existing products and services or change things around. It is easy to get left behind when you are not keeping an eye out for economic changes and user behaviours.”
His business, Meuse Technologies is a company that provides all-rounded skills training in software engineering, leveraging the skills of undergraduates to impact their education and experience.
Meuse Cab seeks to revolutionize the way individuals on campuses in Ghana commute. This began with Ashesi University when on Monday, 19th March 2018, the institution gave approval for Meuse to run on campus, providing students with fast, reliable and safe transportation around campus. Since then, Meuse Cab has recorded over 50,000 trips with students, faculty, staff and visitors. Using an autorickshaw, popularly known as a Tuk Tuk, Meuse Cab transported students from their hostels to campus and or from campus to Berekuso and vice versa.
Within the first four months, the company paid off its initial loan and purchased another vehicle for the transportation of students. Meuse Cab essentially solved a transportation need on campus.
“In my first year at Ashesi, I lived in Berekuso because my admission to Ashesi came late and no affordable housing options were available along the hill. This required me to wake up early to join the staff bus uphill. The staff bus was an affordable option, however, it was mostly full, and there are some days where you might have tasks to complete in your room before heading to campus later in the day. This meant walking uphill or taking a taxi, which came with their own challenges.
Walking uphill was tiring, which meant your clothes were drenched with sweat and also dust from the vehicles that were passing by. If you chose a shortcut, the chances of seeing a snake significantly multiplied. Taxis were sometimes scarce because not all of them could climb the Ashesi hill and those who could did not have student-friendly prices in mind. And leaving the Ashesi campus posed even more problems.
For nearly two years, these were the thoughts that filled my mind. How can I help to provide students with safe affordable on-demand transportation? Finding a solution to this problem was a fulfilling journey because each time I saw a student use Meuse, my mind was put at peace. Although Meuse is currently not running on campus, there is still an inner passion and drive within me to solve our problem and resume running. Entrepreneurs sometimes encounter failures along their entrepreneurial journey. However, with persistence along with enthusiasm, I believe progress can be made.”
“When Meuse commenced operations in Ashesi, one of the metrics we were interested in was what type of students were using our services. We would feel unfulfilled if we only saw a specific group or class of people using Meuse Cab. So we kept track of which type of students and third parties used Meuse Cab. It was rewarding to know that almost the entire Ashesi Community used Meuse Cab – from fee paying students to full scholarship students. From construction workers to cleaners. This helped us to appreciate how much we were truly solving a growing need. We also asked for feedback from various stakeholders – students, our staff, and Ashesi operations, which helped us to find out the extent to which we were making social impact.”
“Many who can afford to own vehicles purchase vehicles for personal use because of the many inconveniences of the public transport system and increasing fuel costs, contributing to increasing traffic congestion.
My vision for the future of Ghana is to see the country with a strong transportation infrastructure that implements alternative means of transportation that is safe, accessible, sustainable and contributes significantly to the economic growth of the country. Our vision is to help provide safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transportation for university communities in Ghana – further contributing largely to the economic growth of the country.”
Janet’s “disciplined” mentor, Emmanuel Anni Acquah is a chartered accountant with years of senior finance and operations management experience spanning multi-national and expatriate roles within the Logistics and Oil & Gas industries. Startups and communities are his passion; distilling corporate lessons to give young entrepreneurs a chance to succeed. He is currently coaching Janet on how to make her business model more scalable.
Emmanuel believes that real impact can be made in the world through the “regular and consistent semi-formal discussions” that take place “between a mentor and a protégé”.
“My collaboration with my mentee has been rather productive and fruitful. I have seen feedback being implemented in her work and the progress that is clearly being made. We are confident that we will achieve all our objectives by the end of the incubation.”
According to the fellow, her mentor provides her with feedback on her key tasks and connects her with people in his network who can be instrumental for Divergent.
“The collaboration has been very useful. My mentor is very supportive and genuinely wants to see me succeed.”
When asked, she described the AVI as “profound” and claimed that the biggest challenge she has faced during her time in the incubator is “time management” issues.