This Month's Guest Blogger: Maurice Aouad

For this month’s guest blog, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maurice Aouad, founder of The Runway Group (TRG) LLC and iVi Global Partners.
Please tell us more about your businesses
In 2007 I founded TRG LLC, a multipurpose media and marketing company. We were the first business in Ghana to successfully integrate social media into product activation, promoting events and increasing awareness about various causes that we supported. Another issue that we chose to address is underemployment, which is prevalent in Ghana’s labor force. Our solution to the problem was to establish a digital design group within TRG that identified talented graphic designers and leveraged our social media network to ensure that they had access to a constant stream of projects to work on.
 More recently, I founded iVi Global Partners. The focus of this business is to harness the increasing interest that those abroad have in working in Africa, by facilitating partnerships between international companies and local Ghanaian businesses.

Why did you found these businesses?

I started TRG as a way to empower myself as a young person. I really wanted to be able to chart my own path and in the process I challenged a number of social norms in Ghanaian society. As a young person in Ghana, you’re traditionally taught to be led, not be the leader. While this has value in some contexts, it is also important for youth to take charge of their own futures and success. Beyond providing an avenue for them to build wealth and improve their standard of living, it is a way for them to build confidence and really prove themselves.

iVi is a chance for me to aggregate my experiences and the lessons that I’ve learned, to change the way business is done particularly in Africa. Foreign investment alone isn’t enough; we also need to have a significant local component. In doing this I would really like to make Ghana a better place to live and do business.

Tell us about your most challenging and most rewarding experiences as an entrepreneur

My most rewarding experience was the first event that I pulled together on my own. I was looking out into the crowd and it hit me, that I had really done it with a combination of hard work, spending hours behind my computer and the Grace of God.

The most challenging thing for me has been blocking out negativity. I like to think of myself as a bit of a maverick. If challenging the status quo is the most impactful way to get things done, then that’s what I’m going to do. In the process however, you will unfortunately ruffle some feathers. To be honest, at first this kind of negative response would really get to me and made me question whether or not I was doing the right thing. However I sought out advice from mentors and prayed to God to give me patience and this gave me the boost that I needed to keep going.

What do you know now that you wish you'd know when you started?

There is a saying, that “patience is a virtue” but as is the case with most things, that’s much easier said than done. Looking back though, being more patient would have helped me to get things done a lot quicker and a lot less painfully. I’ve really come to learn that when dealing with people, you have to be able to see things from their perspective in order to get them to do things your way :).

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
I can’t stress enough how important it is to believe in yourself, you truly are your strongest advocate. There will always be those who are ready to discourage you, but you need to have strong enough convictions to discern constructive criticism from plain old haters.


Visit us on the web: www.startsmartgh.com Send us an email: startsmart.info@gmail.com

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