Joseph Awuah-Darko is a social entrepreneur and a self-professed ‘creative disruptor’ with an unconventional way of doing things, Joseph has taken head-on the issue of e-waste dumped at the infamous Agbogbloshie township. He turns it into creative masterpieces while training the residents and giving them a viable source of income.

The Agbobloshine Initiative was born out of the Agbogbloshie e-waste dumpsite in Accra. The suburb is one of the biggest e-waste dumpsites in Africa, and therefore needs urgent action to address the serious environmental hazard that it poses to Ghana and to the rest of the world.  In Joseph’s words, “entrepreneurs are people who press the edit button on life” and this is exactly what Joseph did when he visited the Agbobloshie dump site in 2015. He saw an opportunity to bring change to the residents and turn the waste into works of art. Through one of the courses he was expected to take as a university student, Joseph and his partner, Cynthia Muhonja (who is also a fellow student) thought of doing something beyond a semester’s grade that could positively impact the residents of Agbogbloshie. This is how Agbogbloshine Initiative was birthed.

Although the initiative officially kicked off only 18 months ago, the company has enjoyed positive reception in the media and has been featured by international media houses like Daily Mail and Al Jazeera. The initiative currently employs 20 people which include 15 low-income inhabitants of Agbogbloshie who are being vocationally trained to ‘up cycle’ into amazing work of art. Agbogbloshine Initiative makes bespoke contemporary art pieces for a niche market; waste from the dumpsite is turned into useful artifacts such as grandfather clocks. The waste is sourced at fair trade prices from the inhabitants of Agbogbloshie who sell the e-waste.

Agbogbloshine Initiative is staying true to its brand pillars of quality, creativity and ethics. These three pillars and the context in which the initiative exists attract a lot of attention and help the brand as they use this to tell their story. The initiative is conscious of the consumerism of the 21st century but also well aware of the importance of transparency to its stakeholders and therefore to the growth and survival of its brand and it is therefore living its values. This is gaining a great deal of media attention.

Plans are far advanced to set up a website for the initiative and proactively communicate its work and offerings to a wider audience. The initiative has successfully secured the digital stratosphere through the use of social media and is now turning its attention to event channeling; the initiative will have a display of several pieces at Ghana’s art festival – Chalewote – which will serve as a channel for selling its brand and story to a diverse audience beyond Ghana. Agbogbloshine is using more offline avenues to reach out to audiences outside its millennial base.

Joseph attributes the success of Agbobloshine Initiative to the action-oriented approach of tackling the problem at hand and sees the initiative focusing on growth and consistency as well as providing vocational training for the residents of Agbogbloshie. Agbogbloshine is looking to equip them with the tools and skills to be able to turn the e-waste into works of art and be more socially inclusive through applying design thinking to mitigate environmental degradation. The five-year plan for Agbogbloshine Initiative is to scale up to the point where the initiative is doing more eco-incentivized recycling, trying to approach waste from a cultural perspective and get people to care more about the environment and the country.

Ghana’s premier public relations consultancy, Stratcomm Africa is under its ‘Our Story Your Story’ initiative providing   SMEs a platform to tell their stories. Through these stories we highlight how communication can help SMEs to grow their brand and contribute even more to the socio-economic growth of Ghana and the rest of Africa. Africa Rising means SMEs Rising. We are happy to interview SMEs with a story to tell throughout the continent.

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