Faculty in Focus - Humanities
Founder: Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng
Cocoa farmer’s son Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng had been carrying around the seed of a brilliant business idea for almost a decade before MEC helped it to grow.
His tech start-up was born out of frustration at how top-down government policies were so rarely shaped by the ordinary man or woman on the street.
PolicyCON – a subscription-based policy review digital platform – is on a mission to redress that inequality by opening up public and organisational policies to campaigners, industry experts, working professionals and researchers.
“There’s been no central platform to access what ordinary people think – until now,” explained Kwame.
“PolicyCON answers the question: how do ordinary people participate in policymaking? Instead of people protesting on the streets to have their voices heard I’ve created a platform where everyone can become a freelance policy analyst.
“We believe that public policy is truly public when the public can directly influence it.”
At the moment, much of public policy is shaped and influenced by think tanks and specialist consultants.
PolicyCON will allow users to have their say, critique and shape existing or draft policies allowing more diverse voices to be heard by policymakers.
The platform will deliver an honest critique from multiple perspectives in a controlled and safe environment.
Kwame has his sights on making PolicyCON global but will launch his business in the UK, US and Ghana.
During his years working as a project manager and cocoa and trade policy analyst in his native Ghana, Kwame was nursing his fledgling business idea and building a reputation as a syndicated columnist and contributor to the business pages of the likes of the Financial Times.
But his bright idea really took flight during his MSc. International Development: Globalisation, Trade and Industry studies in the School of Environment, Education and Development at The University of Manchester.
He was able to talk through his fledgling start-up idea with MEC staff, attend interactive skill-building workshops - from value proposition and market research to understanding your finances - and have one-to-ones with workshop leaders to hone and refine PolicyCON.
Over weeks and months, MEC helped convert his idea into something more meaningful and develop his PolicyCON pitch.
Kwame said: “Without MEC, I would not have done the business - it would have stayed in my head. They helped me get started and had this confidence in me from the very beginning. MEC helped me polish the idea up and made me feel it was worth a try.
“The MEC team recommended things to me - and encouraged me to apply for this and research that. There was lots of signposting.”
The signposting paid off when Kwame was awarded a £2,000 Kickstarter grant which funded a website, hosting and software development for PolicyCON.
There was another cash windfall when Kwame won second place in the 2022 Venture Further Business Start-up Competition (Tech Category) with PolicyCON.
Venture Further is the flagship annual start-up competition for all current students, researchers and recent graduates across The University of Manchester. The competition opens up a world of support programmes, workshops, mentors and networks to nurture and grow ideas.
Kwame may be well on his way to making PolicyCON a success, but his advice for anyone at the start of their enterprise journey is simple:
Your idea can get better but you have to be flexible and listen to people.Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng / Founder, PolicyCON
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