Behind the scenes on TIE

Imagine growing up and only reading stories that have absolutely nothing to do with your reality.

The way the houses are. How the people look. The customs, the food, the traditions. The climate.

Most children in Africa don’t have access to books that tell stories they can relate to.

African children, if they have access to books at all, read about culture and life in the West, where the majority of the books come from.

Deborah, Co-Founder and CEO of the Golden Baobab Prize in Accra Ghana, was determined to change that.

The Golden Baobab Prize is a literary award that addresses the issue of insufficient quality children’s books in Africa by discovering, nurturing and celebrating promising writers of African children’s literature. They are driven to their work by various factors. One of these is the grim statistic about children’s literature in Africa. UNESCO’s basic principle, “full and equal opportunities in education for all,” remains unattained.

Deborah dreams of seeing a world filled with wonder and possibilities, one African children’s story at a time.

On this episode, I wanted to bring you guys a little bit behind the scenes on what happens on TIE and help you see how powerful it is to bring together skills from the social and private sectors.

Here I’m chatting with Deborah, the Co-Founder and CEO of the Golden Baobab Prize and Cameron, from the & partnership in New York, who is working with them on our TIE Advisor program, to help them navigate this difficult and uncertain moment, all the while getting leadership experience and exercising a different skill set.

I also thought that it was a good opportunity for us to check in with Ghana and see how things are evolving on the COVID front. So I thought you guys would find that quite interesting as well.

So grab your favorite beverage, have a listen, and please do let us know what you think!

00:00:07:18 – 00:00:29:12
Philippa White
So the questions are these. How can we really activate the best of the private sector to meet the challenges of the real world? Is there a way to accelerate my career that doesn’t involve boring online or classroom courses? And can I really impact people in the developing world with the skills that I have? Can I finally feel proud of what I know?

00:00:30:04 – 00:01:06:04
Philippa White
Those are the questions and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Philippa White and this is TIE Unearthed. Keep listening and you can follow us on our journey as we show you how we’re connecting the private sector with the social sector. To make change. Hi, welcome everyone to Episode two of TIE’s Podcast. Today I wanted to bring you guys a little bit behind the scenes on what happens on Tie.

00:01:06:18 – 00:01:28:21
Philippa White
At the moment, we’re working with Deborah, the co-founder and CEO of the Golden Vale Big Prize in Accra, Ghana. And in just a moment, she will tell you more about the organization. And we’ve matched her with Cameron from the end partnership in New York, and he will tell you a little bit more about him as well. But what we do throughout the tie process is check in, see how things are going.

00:01:29:01 – 00:01:52:04
Philippa White
See from Deborah’s point of view what she’s getting out of it and how things are evolving. And likewise, he’s checking in with Cameron to see how he’s getting on and how things are coming together and how he feels things are coming along. So I wanted to bring you in on that conversation, but I also thought it would be a really good chance for us to check in and understand about Ghana and see how things are evolving on the COVID front.

00:01:52:17 – 00:02:19:20
Philippa White
So I thought you would also find that quite interesting as well. So have a listen. And please do let us know what you think. Amazing. So thanks, everyone, for tuning in. I’m here with Deborah and Cameron and it’s great to be connecting with you both at this stage of your TIE project. So just so our listeners understand what it is that you’re doing, I’ll just very briefly explain.

00:02:19:20 – 00:02:39:15
Philippa White
So Cameron is taking part in our Tie Virtual Advisor program. So he’s been partnered with Deborah, as mentioned previously, the CEO of the Golden Veil, the prize based in Accra, Ghana, to help her with her strategy as she drives the prize and everything else that she does forward. As we know, it’s pretty difficult moment for many companies and many organizations around the world.

00:02:39:24 – 00:02:56:11
Philippa White
And Cameron is here to help provide some direction, but obviously with time to also learn a little bit while he whilst he’s on it. So I wanted to check in with them both as this program last three months, the other programs that we have last six weeks, but this one is three months and they’re a month into the experience.

00:02:56:11 – 00:03:18:19
Philippa White
So it’s a great opportunity for us to just hear how everything is going. So thank you very much for allowing us to record this conversation because normally it would obviously be recorded. So should we kick off with you? Deborah So I’d love it if you could please bring to life the Golden Veil Prize and everything that you’re doing and just put what you do into perspective for us.

00:03:18:19 – 00:03:23:20
Philippa White
And then if you could explain what you hope to get out of this experience and what you’ve got so far.

00:03:24:06 – 00:03:53:16
Guest
Awesome. So yes. So my name is Deborah Livingston and I’m working class and I run a number of organizations and the one I started with all of them have the same goal and which is to produce storybooks from across the continent by African writers and illustrators that I’m children fall in love with. And I started with waterfowl volleyball, which was, you know, the simple idea.

00:03:53:16 – 00:04:18:24
Guest
But wait a second. If we don’t have enough access, maybe I don’t have enough people writing them. So we launched a literature finding and then wait a second, we don’t have enough people illustrating once and illustrated type. And then along the line we said, Hey, we don’t have enough people publishing them. So we launched a publishing company and we also said, Hey, we don’t have enough people collecting these of the national publishers.

00:04:18:24 – 00:04:31:08
Guest
We also have literary agents, and all of these organizations have a big book. Both get more incredibly fortunate than others. So, yeah, that’s.

00:04:32:23 – 00:04:44:13
Philippa White
Amazing. Amazing. Thank you so much, Deborah. So in Cameroon, do you want to give a bit of a background to you and your involvement and why you applied for this particular tie opportunity?

00:04:45:11 – 00:05:22:17
Guest
Yeah. So, yeah. Hi, I’m Cameron. I work for the agency here in New York who is the and partnership? We do the creative and branding and communications. Advertising for range clients is for media buying and planning and I actually came into contact with Ty a few years ago when I went on a physical placement back in the days and were able to travel about to see when I did a paper in Brazil with a great organization with some of the words butchering the Portuguese, it’s perfect.

00:05:22:17 – 00:05:26:00
Philippa White
This perfect.

00:05:26:00 – 00:06:05:24
Guest
And then he gave me a great taste and a great drive to better use my commercial skills to help either social enterprises or NGOs around the world through my commercial skills to better use than just helping corporate clients. So when coronavirus struck and I heard that no physical placements are going to be happening for the Filipinos running these sort of more digital advisory role things, looks like that’s a great way, I think, to apply some of the corporate skills I have to organizations that might be in need in this particular moment.

00:06:06:21 – 00:06:46:17
Guest
And I’ve been a sort of passionate advocate for reading, but for personal reasons. I love reading as is childhood. And so when I came across that word, the organization that she’s found is completely enraptured by the mission, by what she believes, and by globalization art. And I think I’m simply helping and helping to better tell the story of the organization, bring it to market, and hopefully gets a whole host of new children falling into something.

00:06:46:22 – 00:06:48:00
Guest
A lots of great stories.

00:06:48:00 – 00:07:12:15
Philippa White
Amazing, super inspiring. Thank you so much, Cameron. All right. So this next question is either for you, Deborah or Cameron, but tell me, so how has the last month been for you both? We had the initial introductory briefing call a month ago. Right. You know, when we kicked everything else. Now, in this case, with it being the tie advisor experience, we didn’t have a specific brief per say or a specific objective.

00:07:13:04 – 00:07:27:08
Philippa White
This particular opportunity is positioned is helping you, Deborah, navigate the next three months and to provide a little bit of clarity for you and direction. And so I just wanted to know how things have evolved over the last months for you both.

00:07:28:03 – 00:07:55:00
Guest
You know, when we started working together, I think one of the things I’m loving the most about, you know, this season is that opportunities come because, you know, opportunities have run out and you’ve got to jump on it. So in the past with the Tie Fellowship, we would have a lot of clients sleep time with this, you know, felt that, you know, we have this opportunity to need it.

00:07:55:00 – 00:08:17:05
Guest
I’m like, yes, I need it. And yes, you’re going to make it work. So Chairman, I completely jumped into it and I just kind of started talking. We had an immediate need for a pitch deck, for a fundraising conversation we were having. And so we started working on that. And then along the line realized, wait a second, we are jumping like, you know, headfirst into this.

00:08:17:22 – 00:08:47:04
Guest
But I know that our organization, we have a lot of messages that we have been working through. We have a lot of customer alignment that we haven’t figured out yet. So it became Cameron using his skills to help me unpack those things and to help us really position where we stand, where we are, crystallize that message and that becomes like a all I get before we even get to the part of the pitch deck.

00:08:47:04 – 00:09:06:15
Guest
And it’s required a little flexibility from both of us, from Cameron, from myself. And it’s just been extremely eye opening because these are things that that I hadn’t been, I think what is it that’s been incredible so far? And I just got off the job before. Candace.

00:09:06:23 – 00:09:18:05
Philippa White
No, let’s go. No, I’m glad that you did. I’m glad that you did. I heard that. I heard that sort of thing. I was like, What is that? Oh, it’s a message.

00:09:18:05 – 00:09:43:15
Guest
No, I definitely agree with Deborah. You know, one of the one of the challenges a lot of the time is working out what the briefs or what the immediate needs actually is. And I think having that, even if there is a brief at the beginning where you think that the task is getting as advertised, we thought at the beginning it might be a pitch deck for a fundraiser.

00:09:44:10 – 00:10:22:19
Guest
After digging later, you realize that actually the immediate need is slightly different and the immediate task for us is better encapsulating that sort of the the brand essence I suppose the better a better term of the organization so that we can write that, you know, so we can do writes a great pitch stack but also. Right yeah. So content the at a sort of marketing messaging there’s something we’ve done before everything else to see if we can you know the the process to discovering what needs to be done as a priority is really important.

00:10:22:20 – 00:10:51:01
Guest
And I think sometimes people can get frustrated, I suppose, when there’s not, you know, when there’s not a clear task. But honestly, Deborah and I think it’s fun believe is like talking around things and and being really flexible and allowing yourself to discover what needs to be done is almost more important. The beginning stage. Yeah. So than diving headfirst into what you think the task is.

00:10:51:01 – 00:10:54:03
Guest
That actually might be a distraction from the biggest task yet.

00:10:54:09 – 00:10:57:05
Philippa White
And actually just out of interest. How oh, sorry. Go ahead. Go ahead, Deborah.

00:10:58:06 – 00:11:21:16
Guest
Yeah, I just going to add that, you know, when an organization is still growing and the way that we are, often times oftentimes there are things that don’t work but kind of don’t understand why they don’t work. So you kind of just go along with a long line. You discover you have to stick to New York, you know, like a light bulb moment and you’re like, Oh, wait a second, this is why all of those things didn’t work together.

00:11:21:21 – 00:11:49:24
Guest
And I feel like that’s what our process has been, particularly for me, because I started on the pitch because we were fighting to solve a particular problem. But a lot of the reasons that can be tough on messaging is why you struggle with. Right? Yeah. And actually I think that all but I got on the pitch back. It’s a very fluid process, but incredibly powerful.

00:11:50:19 – 00:11:53:13
Guest
On using instead of other people, you know.

00:11:53:21 – 00:12:17:19
Philippa White
Good, good. Okay. So tell me, how has this worked from a logistical point of view? Obviously, the whole point of this as well is that it’s easy to work it around your busy lives and your busy day jobs. And when we spoke and the way we imagined it working, we thought you both would get in touch a couple of times a week and work on things a couple of hours a week.

00:12:18:02 – 00:12:28:22
Philippa White
Is that how things are coming together? Do you feel as though that’s what’s happening? How is your time? Cameron and Deborah, maybe. Let’s start with Cameron and Deborah.

00:12:29:01 – 00:12:47:13
Guest
The weekly pools once a week at the beginning we did spookily this is like try and dig away at what the task is, I suppose. But then one piece of work that we do a call once a week, about an hour and half. Yeah. And then we kind of WhatsApp and chat and stuff on email throughout the week.

00:12:47:16 – 00:13:12:20
Guest
What, two weeks off. Yeah. So yeah, it works out pretty well. So from my perspective, to be honest, I mean one of the ways that, you know, I have a, a full time job on the side, but so so it makes it sort of semi unpredictable. But to be honest, whether it’s weekends, whether it’s, you know, 30 minutes to an hour during my day or I might have like a free pass to my calendar.

00:13:13:00 – 00:13:21:13
Guest
Yeah, just being flexible and doing work can be done is is not read to do good for me good.

00:13:21:13 – 00:13:26:12
Philippa White
And that’s yeah that’s what I was hoping for. And Deborah it something that feels like it’s working with your busy schedule as well.

00:13:27:09 – 00:13:56:06
Guest
Yeah. Yeah. No it’s been brilliant cause I feel like in another world it’s this. We’re a very small team and I work from home, so if this was before, it would be impossible for physical project. It would have been possible, but it would have been very intense in a short period of time. Every other thing would have to kind of, you know, pay homage to this as a priority, whether it was a top priority project or not.

00:13:57:07 – 00:14:23:22
Guest
This way it’s able to you know, we’re able to work on this alongside all of the other things that we’re doing. And we are able to lend each other. So we have something that we will have to work on. And the pitch deck, which I’m happy to have a little more time to think about. Yeah. So that we are not, we are not putting out something that’s incomplete, I guess that is I so I still want to have a couple of conversations to bring back to this.

00:14:24:03 – 00:14:26:09
Guest
So it’s actually really worked out well. Good.

00:14:27:01 – 00:14:43:15
Philippa White
Good, good. And obviously we have two more months left. So this placement will be going until the 25th of August, 25th of August. So do you feel as though there’s enough to do enough time to do what you want to do? I mean, how is that coming together, Deborah?

00:14:44:13 – 00:15:02:19
Guest
And I think it’s definitely a time for the things that I that we want to do. I think and what we’ve been working on now, which is the message and the thing with a project like that is it’s just a lot of going back and forth. So you find what works for you. And I feel like we’re close to that.

00:15:03:00 – 00:15:17:08
Guest
And once we have, you know, what I’m feeling is like what the essence is, then it’s execution, which goes much faster than the brainstorming. Yeah. So I definitely think, I think we have time. Okay.

00:15:17:15 – 00:15:18:17
Philippa White
Ken, what’s your feeling?

00:15:18:24 – 00:15:44:13
Guest
Yeah. Yeah, I just completely agree this is the best of that of any project in the corporate world as well is the feels like it’s sort of like the slowest, shall we say, of exploring and discovering and, you know, being flexible, changing your mind and stuff. And we’ve made a huge amount of progress, actually. We actually grew Deborah went through the same sort of really circling around.

00:15:44:15 – 00:15:55:17
Guest
We think the fragmented brand story is. And as soon as we kind of like finally landed on that thing, everything else is kind of like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, well.

00:15:56:10 – 00:16:23:18
Philippa White
Good, good. Okay. Well, I guess I just really love to hear from you, Deborah. Perhaps you can give us a little bit of an insight to life in Ghana from a cozy point of view, I guess everyone is dealing with it in their own ways, in their respective countries. Obviously, for those of you who are listening, I’m sure a lot of you know that I’m in Brazil and we have our for lack of better words, are very special.

00:16:23:18 – 00:16:54:18
Philippa White
President Bolsonaro, who’s creating an interesting response to the situation. Numbers are not decreasing yet. He is releasing the lockdown. And as we all know, he didn’t really want the lockdown to begin with. It’s been pretty devastating here. And and Cameron situation in the US is obviously not dissimilar with his equally special man as president. Yeah. So it’d be really interesting to know about Ghana.

00:16:55:04 – 00:17:15:18
Philippa White
We don’t hear about it here and I’m pretty sure that the mainstream media in many of the places where our listeners are coming from, they probably don’t know either. And it’s just really great to understand how you are doing, how are things in Ghana and what is the biggest obstacle that you actually have faced as you adjust to COVID?

00:17:16:21 – 00:17:46:11
Guest
Yeah, so I mean, we’re doing well. Our president, you know, is a very ambitious man. He wanted to be president for a while and and now he is he’s he’s won several times and now he is. So he’s been looking for an opportunity to shine. And COVID came. So he has risen to the task. We have, you know, almost like by broadcast for the nation, like a father called me.

00:17:46:11 – 00:18:20:24
Guest
We feel like we have someone who’s in control. So it’s all that that this worked out. And that’s been very decisive leadership. It’s been a lot of testing and then set up operating together to do every it’s own you of things that have probably went the best in this country and I don’t like as far as I can remember that well in the public sector so and I think the fear that we had as a nation or that’s coming upon us to think we are never really organized, we are never really ready for things we plan for how much more disasters on the global scale.

00:18:21:12 – 00:18:46:18
Guest
I feel like it’s been really calming to feel like there’s been a strong presence in them. And I think, you know, given how we are seeing a difference in how leadership in different countries are handling this, it’s it’s the power of leadership. And I think the challenge to the Ghanaian president for what’s now he was accomplished. So on the national front and that’s been but on the West Front, it’s been interesting because I work from home anyway.

00:18:47:01 – 00:19:17:16
Guest
So this hasn’t changed my, you know, my day to day. But now my family, all my son is all the way. Yes, white people. So you have to find it. You’re got to be able still have periods of time and that I know I’m going to work with a lot of of a challenge in the beginning, but I think I’ve figured that out now, so I’m happy with that.

00:19:18:04 – 00:19:45:04
Guest
The big challenge, I would say, was that beginning of this year, one of our goals for the publishing company was to begin to go back. And I’ve been working, you know, so silence for a while. I was really looking forward to having a physical team that I will try and help, you know, some. Yeah, but obviously to bring new people and so that’s put a wrench in that plan.

00:19:45:24 – 00:19:54:22
Guest
But it’s fine because you know, you’re able to work around other things that, you know, that can happen without without that. So yeah.

00:19:56:04 – 00:20:10:22
Philippa White
Okay. So as far as things getting back to some semblance of normal, I guess no one knows anything for sure anywhere at the moment. But are you able to start thinking about your plans for life after COVID? What is the timeline for that?

00:20:11:15 – 00:20:36:16
Guest
I’m really not the date ahead as a way to my work in the face of what happened. Right. So we don’t have to talk about the example right now. On on on the sales of this, of course, is this opportunity to explore digital. Is this an opportunity to explore selling rights and licenses to other markets? This is an opportunity to get an agent to represent us in other spaces.

00:20:36:22 – 00:20:53:05
Guest
So I’m looking at I just walk from, okay, how do I still make opportunities to, you know, makes sense for us at a time. What I thought should be making sense. Yeah, totally. Like the use of my time. Yeah.

00:20:54:17 – 00:21:30:22
Philippa White
Wow. Just fascinating. Thank you both so much for taking the time to connect. Obviously we would be doing this anyway as part of the tied process to check in and see how things are evolving. But I just really appreciate you having this conversation recorded so that other people can take part and hear how things are going and to understand about life on the ground in Ghana at this moment and your response to it, Deborah, which is just super interesting and really inspiring and how fantastic that your president is being such a positive role model at this time.

00:21:31:10 – 00:21:57:23
Philippa White
I can tell you that ours could learn a lot from his leadership. So thank you for listening, everyone. Hopefully this provided a bit of an insight to tie the process which involved and a little bit of an insight to life in another part of the world. Until next time.

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