Money & Sense: Sowing seeds gave me the luck I needed to land a major sponsorship deal with Orange
Last week I sent out a Whatsapp message to my family group chat to let them know I had signed a contract with the biggest mobile company in Sierra Leone.
Uncle Mustapha wrote this back:
”That’s great! Keep making your own luck.”
I have been thinking about those words over the past couple days and they really are profound.
If you ask what I've been doing these 2 years the best answer to that would be sowing seeds.
I applied for several grants and fellowships (rejected by all). I took on smaller clients to make ends meet. I applied for consultancies and was shortlisted for a couple and had interviewed only for them to fall through. I developed course content for marketing in Sierra Leone and held workshops for free. I created a community for bloggers to promote storytelling and local content. When a not for profit I registered seemed like it was going to bleed me financially I quickly divested knowing that the time was not right for me financially. I ghost produced content across multiple channels; TV, radio, print, and digital for clients. Most of the work I have done this year has not had my name on them.
I traveled. Okay, I traveled a lot. More than I have ever traveled before. Each place I went my eyes were wide open, open like a sponge to soak up not just the experience but to learn.
I also committed to being present in Sierra Leone. While there, I attend events that I know have the potential to generate leads or turn into content.
I signed contracts with clients but I also ended contracts when I realized that while client acquisition is always a blessing not all clients are worth retaining. I let go of accounts that robbed me of my peace but most importantly of my dignity even though I needed the money I walked away.
When I would come back home to Accra my mom would look at me and nods her head. Every time she hears a whimper of an opportunity that doesn't pan out I hear her deep mothering sighs. Other times I see her looking at me from the corner of my eye as I type away on my laptop. I can read her mind. I know what she is thinking.
”When will all this work pay off?”
There is something about not being a traditional salaried worker that I think will always make our parents wonder if this alternative path of entrepreneurship really is for us. Especially during the harder days when things are needed that you can not provide.
But I keep sowing seeds. Many of the seeds I sow will never grow. I sow some knowing they will not grow but I sow them anyway as ’sara’ or as a scientist friend would say experiment. I keep sowing seeds. I have been sowing seeds deliberately to increase my luck. What is farming really if not a game of chance? You can sow your seeds and the rain does not come at all. You can get rain, perfect weather and pests will eat your crop.
For the past year and a half, I've been sowing seeds for myself and my passions.
The Vickie Remoe Show is a seed. When I decided I would take it up again it was during the worst of times financially. Who goes into production for a TV Show in Sierra Leone during elections? A seed sower! Who continues to produce a TV Show after finding out that their MoU with a partner who was to support the show’s production was not going to work? A seed sower! Who doesn't send out sponsorship letters for their show to the one company everyone tells them will sponsor their show because they don't like the company culture and modus operandi? A seed sower!
So you get the picture. Last season of my show was an amazing feat! The challenge I set was simple; get it done as best as you can with what you can. I accomplished that!
Once we finished broadcast of that season however I knew I needed money to improve on what I had just done. If you’re in Salone you’re probably already thinking mi sista way di gron dri so - in these hard times where was I gonna get that money?
Last year I had thought of doing a GoFundMe for the show but I felt like I didn’t have anything to show to justify asking for help. Then I thought okay while the show is on TV broadcasting I will do a fundraiser. But I didn’t, I kept pushing it off. I’m not sure exactly why I did but if I dig I think a large part of that is that I thought the community would judge me for not having the funds for my show.
One Sunday this past July I was drinking coffee when I thought “just do it”! And so I did. Two weeks later I met my goal of raising $12,000 for production equipment for the Vickie Remoe Show. Another week I had surpassed my goal and raised $15,500 ($9000 online from GoFundMe) and the rest across multiple fundraising channels including mobile money.
Then a seed I had sown last year started to grow a root. For almost 18 months one relentless Orange staffer has been in my Whatsapp about a partnership with them. He said he believed in me and my brand. Didn’t know him from anywhere. Our friends are not friends. We are not from the same village. There is no connection.
He said he followed my work and felt that I would add value to the Orange brand. This year after months of conversation we finally had a meeting at their head office and met in person. The meeting was warm but we could not agree on terms.
The morning after I sent him a message and thanked him for believing in me. His effort and passion for his company were unseen. In my head, I thought man, if every company had staff like this no one would complain. What a guy.
That meeting was months ago. I stayed in touch, letting him know the progress on the show. I had no expectations but I kept sowing my seeds.
When the message finally came with the offer from Orange to sponsor the Vickie Remoe Show’s next season it happened quick. A contract was drafted. I reviewed and signed from my kitchen in Ghana.
This deal with Orange is a major milestone. It is the first big harvest of the seeds I sowed for the Vickie Remoe Show. I can hire a full-time crew and get to work properly!
Uncle Mustapha was right. None of what has happened has been by happenstance. This partnership with Orange is a direct result of hard work, and perseverance. When you are intentional about sowing seeds, you’re effectively creating your own luck.
Now go out there and sow your own seeds!