I’ve always been a little anti-corporation but living in Ghana has really showed me how nice it is to be surrounded by so many small businesses. I’ve made friends by frequenting certain produce shops, restaurants and phone credit stores. It is really refreshing to build relationships with locals, in such a short-time.
North American is suppose to be the land with the “free economy” where the rules are loose and every citizen has the financial freedom to make as much money as they can. However overtime this “free” market has turned into a market that is impossible to enter. Businesses have grown too big and entering companies don’t have a chance to compete, unless they have a “new edge”. This discourages many people which is why we don’t have as many entrepreneurs in Canada and the USA anymore.
Some argue that this is just part of development and that this is what a country goes through. But you can look at countries like Iceland that even though they do have some major chains in-country, but as a nation they have rejected some chains by sticking to local businesses instead of corporations (Starbucks vs. local coffeeshops).
Corporations also feed into many unethical practices that occur in nations like Ghana and exploit resources e.g. Cocoa, Shea butter, labour etc. Some unethical practices include waste dumping, child labour and exploitation of workers.
Starting your own business does have it’s challenges and is not an easy task, but in Ghana it is a tool for development. One of the NGOs that I’m working with, offers 6 weeks of training on skills to help you start your own business. Out of all of the trainings that are offered this one has the highest enrolment of females, which was very interesting because in North America you normally see males in these roles.
When talking to women that are in the program they stated that it was a lot easier for them to start their own business instead of getting another job. This is because they can choose their own hours and have their children with them. This is a way for women to work within the cultural pressures of raising a family and having a career. Which made me realize that in most small shops there is always women running the shop with a child on her back. It made me think that maybe Ghana’s market is more “free” than Canada’s.