By Nana Akua Mensah, Communications Specialist
“Our duty is to find the human element that moves audiences to connect and inspires them to action,” asserted Bettina Boateng, Senior Supervisory Regional Development Outreach and Communications Specialist for USAID West Africa. Boateng expressed this as the primary principle guiding all communications work in her address to the Trade Hub’s Communications Team during the unit’s strategic planning workshop and communications training held March 15to March 19, 2022, in Accra, Ghana.
Chaz Kyser, the Trade Hub’s Ghana-based Communications Manager, organized the 5-day workshop for the team’s members: Blessing Lass, Senior Communications Specialist (Nigeria); Fatima Datt, Communications Specialist (Senegal); Nana Akua Mensah, Communications Specialist (Ghana); Tia Swain, Communications Specialist (Ghana); and Peter Kundum, Multimedia Consultant (Nigeria).
Prior to meeting in Accra for the workshop, the team relied exclusively on virtual communication. The workshop allowed team members to be acquainted in person for the first time and be formally introduced to Mensah and Swain, the newest additions to the unit. It also gave Robin Wheeler, the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party, the opportunity to meet with staff over dinner. Wheeler, who is based in the Trade Hub’s headquarters of Abuja, Nigeria, was in Ghana for other business and shared his vision for the Trade Hub.
As part of the strategic planning portion of the workshop, the team discussed and updated the Trade Hub’s overall communications work plan, delineated responsibilities for each team member to enhance efficiency, identified issues affecting the team’s effectiveness, and proposed solutions to boost the team’s overall performance.
During the week, the team also took part in tailored communications trainings. On March 16, Mensah facilitated training on Trello, a project management software that has proven useful in the organization and successful completion of communications deliverables. Lass delivered a training on branding and marking. The training sparked conversation on how the team could more effectively support co-investment partners to ensure not only the production of correctly branded materials, but also the development of strong visual brands for partners.
On March 18, the Communications Team was joined by Olivier Girard, Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Littorals Regional Initiative (LRI), and Atiewin Mbillah-Lawson, Communications and Reporting Officer for LRI, who met the team and shared information about their work at LRI to prevent violent extremism in the region. Mbillah-Lawson took part in the full day of training, beginning with an overview of USAID West Africa by Boateng and her sharing communications best practices.
Boateng also joined the team for an Advanced Zoom training, delivered by Swain, which introduced the team to the plethora of tools available in Zoom to create engaging webinars; and the “Write Better, Write Now Bootcamp” led by Kyser, which detailed grammar and punctuation rules.
A highlight of the week was the team’s attendance at the U.S.-Ghana Chamber of Commerce’s “Global Women’s Business and Professional Conference” on March 17. Just 4 weeks prior to this event, Jeremy Faber, Private Sector Engagement Advisor with Prosper Africa, had introduced Kyser to Florence Torson-Hart, the organization’s president and conference organizer. This introduction led to the Trade Hub being sponsors of the conference and supporting three staff members of Global Mamas, a co-investment partner funded through Prosper Africa, to attend the event. The conference also served as an avenue for Trade Hub staff to actively participate in the conversation on empowering women in the workplace.
Ann Dela Apekey, the Trade Hub’s Ghana-based Gender and Social Inclusion Manager, delivered a presentation at the beginning of the conference titled “The Business Case for Women’s Equity: How Ensuring Equity for Women Benefits Companies’ Bottom Line.” Kyser closed out the conference with an uplifting interactive presentation titled “The Hallmarks of Empowered, Successful Women.”
Ultimately, the Communications Team’s convening in Accra proved invaluable for strengthening the capacity of the team to execute communications campaigns and for enhancing the visibility of the Trade Hub.