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Opinions of Sunday, 5 October 2014

Columnist: Akpah, Prince

The Journey So Far With Chris Orlando

Chris Orlando: I was born on 21st march 1990.

*Prince: Can you share with us the history of the school you’ve attended?*Chris Orlando: I started Comforter preparatory school and then moved toTaifa community school. From there, I continued to St. Thomas AquinasSenior High school. I am now reading Chattered Marketing at the CentralUniversity College a UK course.

I stayed on University of Ghana Campus for 2 years, without been a studentbut I was going to their university hall, I attended lectures in thebusiness school. I stayed on campus but I wasn’t a student. My aim was tostudy the pattern of the school and what I realised was that student’scomplete business school but can’t start their own business.

*Prince: **Could you share with us some of the achievements during yourschooling days?*

*Chris Orlando:* I was one of the best student in my school after we wrotethe BECE and in SHS, I was the SRC general secretary. I received an awardas the best prefect of the year, most creative prefect and I designed thewebsite for my school, which is no more in existence.*Prince: **So currently what are the things you do?**Chris* *Orlando*: Currently I do a lot of things, I am currently workingwith my mentor at Websoft Solution, so far the best IT Company in Ghana. Iam the product manager of InstocPro, inventory software. I started CEO’sTalk in 2011 as a social enterprise, that is empowering young people to bechange makers in Africa starting from Ghana. I co-founded it with a friend,Darlington, currently in Ashesi University with the help of few otherfriends.

We know that the educational system couldn’t offer the opportunity to havea mentor, so we created that platform to raise people to be entrepreneursand game changers in Ghana and I’m involved in quite a number of things. Iam a Global Citizen member or fellow which is a global citizen initiative.I was elated last year to be part of it, I have started my investmentholding to support start-up and we are looking into seeing 20 years to beinvesting billions in Africa so we’ve started it. Some of the things I doon part-time with schooling at CIM-UK.

*Prince: **In starting all these, what was your inspiration?**

Chris Orlando*: My inspiration was to be a change maker. I believe I wasgoing to be a catalyst for growth and help people achieve excellence intheir lives. Starting CEOs Talk I had to be going to schools as part of ayouth group in my church. We used to go to schools to start fellowships andI saw that we have problems with career management which affected results,career placement training into the universities and mental attitudes.We therefore entered into a campaign to change that and that was how CEOtalk was born. We’ve had successful conferences and workshops in so manyschools in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and Botwe and out of this we birthedCEOs Talk something that will continue when we are not there.

*Prince: **Could you share with us the strategies that have been used toexplore these great ideas?*

Chris Orlando: One of the things you need to do when you have an idea: anidea is the cheapest thing you can have in life because everybody is havingan idea. It’s been stated that when you have an idea, there are over abillion people in the world who have same idea. When you act on your ideathat is when the difference comes. When you get an idea, it is just like araw material, you need to process the idea to become a fine product thatcan be used by people.

You have to study your idea, do a market research, how feasible is theidea, how many people are already doing that you want to do. You can justGoogle it whether someone is doing something or how differently you canalso do it. After studying the system you now begin to know how to dealwith it more differently, and that alone opens your perspective to run withthat idea. That is what I think young people should do, when they get anidea, evaluate your idea and do your market research then you will be off.Successful people act, unsuccessful people don’t act so acting withoutknowledge is very fatal and knowledge without action is also fatal so youneed to act.

*Prince: **How has the journey being so far?*

Chris Orlando: Chris Orlando: The journey so far has been great andfulfilling. There are challenges, the challenges are bread for us, and herelies the case. When I started CEOs Talk, it had to do with funding becauseit was a social enterprise. We didn’t plan of making money out of peoplebut rather inspire them to achieve greatness.

There is a saying that, when you want to start a business you need money,which I disagree. You don’t need money to start a business. Many peoplehave started business out of nothing. We started CEOs Talk out of nothingand we are not doing it for profit purpose but we have been able to defythe odd. When you find a great WHY, you will find a great HOW to achieve it.Discovering the why (why you are into it) and if you are into business justbecause you want to make money, that is a poor dream because money is thecheapest thing to make in the world. All you need is an idea and if youwant to do it alone, that is where you struggle the most, partnership isthe way forward. You might have the idea, someone might have the money andyou will be able to achieve your goals.

*Prince: **You’ve mentioned challenges, how would you advice young peopleto overcome them?*

Chris Orlando: Travelling across the nation to empower people in Tamalewere financial constraints which we overcame because of partnership andgetting young people to think like you was also an issue and the oldergeneration does not believe in you because you tell them and they don’tbelieve in what you doing. You will have challenges from different anglessuch as visionary challenges. It will get to a time you will not believe inwhat you are doing.

*Prince: **What have been the achievements so far?*

Chris Orlando: With CEOs Talk we have been able to empower about 3000people through our conferences and this year we look forward to push thevision. Four young people have started their business. That is, a Cocoa andgrass cutter farms and have employed people. Another person has alsostarted an IT firm, *Crown City Technologies,* all these as a result of ourconferences and impact. We seek to do more as we have instituted a newmanagement for CEOs Talk made up of young people we raised through thisprogram and are in the universities.

*Prince: **What has been some of the feedbacks from other young people andwhat are some of the untold stories?*

Chris Orlando: A young girl gave up in life due to the challenges she wasfacing in school but with our success motivational talk, I prayed with heras a Christian and confessed she nearly killed herself but when she camefor the meeting, she knew she could become a successful person. She repliedus through the mail telling us how her life has changed and she iscurrently in the University of Ghana. One of the things we tell people isto take personal responsibility for their life and I think that is what weare on.

*Prince: **What has been that biggest failure in CEOs Talk?*

Chris Orlando: I wouldn’t describe it as a failure because *Brian Tracysaid ‘failure is a feedback*, there is nothing like failure in life, ratherit helps you to plan well. Before we had the first Ecamp Africa, it wassupposed to have happened on the 8th of June 2013, we printed a lot ofthings, certificates, invited our guests paid for the conference hall.A week to the program, we had a call that there is a renovation going onso we had to cancel the program and we couldn’t get any venue at that timeand that was our major investment to the Ecamp. We had to refund people’smoney to them and re-organise for 12th October 2013. We had sponsors, butthey now didn’t believe whether will be able to do it or not because of thecancellation, which wasn’t our fault. So now anything we do, we havealternatives.

*Prince: **Do you believe Africa can be rebuilt?*

Chris Orlando: Africa is been rebuilt. It is in the process, but when youask if it can be rebuilt, it seems as an assumption or something in thefuture but Africa Is been rebuilt by young people. Young people everywheremaking changes, step by step, day by day and I believe Africa is rising.And Africa rising does not just mean Africa has gotten to a stage and isnow waking up. It is the young people of Africa that are waking up to takeup the helm of affairs because they believe that they can do somethingabout Africa. Someone said the 21st century is a century for young peopleand all the success stories in the 21st story are young people, so theyoung people of Africa have woken up to the reality that they too can dosomething to change the face of Africa. Africa is the next super power inthe world and with some people we will be able to make a change together.

*Prince: **Are we seeing CEOs Talk to rebuild Africa?*

Chris Orlando: We are going to forge new partnerships, to empower peopleall around Africa. So we see on leveraging upon different opportunities. Weare coming out with our website, mobile app to help people get access toreal information from successful young people in Africa. Different thingsthat will help empower more people as this year. Isuccess which stated in2013 empowered close to 1500 people in SHS. This year we are taking it to 5000 people and we’ve started empowering themon entrepreneurship and technology and right back to the hinterlands andinspire them. We don’t have to stop our jobs; we all do it on part time. Sowe seek to increase impacts in rural areas and some other parts of Africa.*Prince: **So what are we seeing Chris Orlando in the next few years?*Chris Orlando: I will become an advocate for the economic development ofAfrica by creating jobs. Poverty is very bad, a poor man has little tooffer the world and we can end poverty when the society develops. You willsee Chris also become a multi-national investor. I believe in impact,investing in people, businesses and will be brand recognise to impactpeople all around.

*Prince: **Who are your mentors?*

Chris Orlando: Mentors are a great gift to society. I would like to usethis opportunity to thank my mentor, who believed in me and gave meopportunities, the CEO of Websoft Solutions and the President of Soft Groupltd, Mr. Godwin Martey. He is my mentor and shows me what to do. I workwith him and learn a lot. And I have role models like Dr. Strive Masiyiwaof Econet Group, Sir Richard Brandson, Aliko Dangote, CEO of Mara Group,John Armah, Fred Deegbe and other young people who are doing stuffs in thecountry thinking of changing the world.

*Prince: **In the nearby future, what would the world recognise you for?*

Chris Orlando: I will be recognised for business. I believe Africa will notbe built by politicians or government. They don’t know how to generaterevenue in society, all they do is to put in structures and create theenvironment that would help entrepreneurs in the society. Politicianscannot create jobs, it is entrepreneurs that create jobs and I am going tofather people to become entrepreneurs. I believe entrepreneurship is thefuture of Africa.

*Prince: **Apart from all the hard work, what do you do as a hobby?*

Chris Orlando: I like reading a lot, I’m a book addict. One of the things Ican fight anyone is when the person misplaces my book. Inside books, aremansions, empires, millions of dollars. If they say if you want to keepsomething from an African, hide it in the book. For me, if you keep it in abook I will dig it and find it. I quite remember when I went to SouthAfrica, and we visited the mall, I bought nothing else than books.

*Prince: **What acknowledgements do you have for people that have reallyinspired you to be where you are today?*

Chris Orlando:Acknowledgement goes out to Pastor Chris, Dr. Mensa Otabil,Rev. Albert Ocran, Godwin Martey, my partner and business friend DesmondDarlington, Shirley Ofori, and others.

*Prince: **What is your Motto in life?*

Chris Orlando:Formal Education will earn you a living, but self educationwill earn you a fortune and fortune favours the bold by *Zukerburg*.

*Prince: **What are your final words to young people out there who arelooking up to you as their role model?*

Chris Orlando: Change is possible and you must be the change you want tosee in the society, let us not only talk about change, let’s build change.Many people are waking up to see what we can be and as a young person dreambig as you can because there is no law against dreaming big.

*Dream Big, Talk Big and act Big.*

When dreaming big, start from where youare, start with what you have. If you want to employ ten million people,start with one person; that might be yourself. If you want to have amultinational company, start it, it might be in your garage. Whatever youwant to start, start even if it is selling bottles.