Kickstarting Ideas: Interview with…Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng
Who are you?
My name is Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng. An international student who graduated with an M.Sc. in International Development-Globalisation Trade and Industry here at the University of Manchester in 2019. I am very passionate about the cocoa-chocolate sector, particular on the livelihood issues facing smallholder cocoa farmers around the world.
What inspired you to explore your idea?
My inspiration came from the fact that in the cocoa-chocolate sector, those who are given a platform to directly influence policies are the people we already know, retired politicians or people who by the virtue of their position in society are assumed to be the epitome of all knowledge and experience. So, when I started publishing my strong opinions on the sector’s activities and policies in the Business and Financial Times newspaper and started receiving very feedback on how my opinion was so different and refreshing, I saw Nathan Tankus without a bachelor’s degree, yet had his subscription-based newsletter on economic policy advise being followed by almost all the major financial institution in the US, being made a research fellow in major institutions, etc. So, I felt there are a lot of people like me or Nathan out there who has valuable opinions to express and advice on enacted policies for the benefits of business, individuals, and governments, hence PolicyCON’s birth.
PolicyCON is a decision support digital platform that leverage the expertise of academic researchers, industry/sector professionals, campaigners, passionate individuals, etc. to provide diverse independent policy advisory services at a subscription cost.
PolicyCON aims to disrupt the think tank and policy consultancy industry and open it up to everyone well vest in a policy area due to their experience in a particular industry/sector, or academic research focus or social campaign. These stakeholders with different interests will provide rich perspectives for organizations and policymakers to consider towards making an informed decision.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in your entrepreneurial journey so far?
The main obstacle has been sustaining the confidence that this is an idea worth anybody’s investment. With every new idea, most times there is this doubt you start to have on whether people will pay for what you are offering. However, any time I explain PolicyCON to people policy people and entrepreneurs, “the next thing they ask is, is the website ready, this sounds interesting, etc.”. these comments strengthened my optimism and made me feel I am on the right path.
What has been the impact of the Kickstarter Award? What are the most valuable lessons you’ve learnt?
The Kickstarter Award first gave me the initial affirmation I needed to feel motivated to move on with this project. It made me feel validated and my idea, worth exploring. Secondly, the award supported me to kickstart the development of my PolicyCON digital platform. It’s quite expensive to engage and gain interest in the services of software developments. Hence the award relieved me of some of the financial pressures and granted my project the prestige it needed to gain the commitment of software developers and my current team members.
What is next for PolicyCON?
We are looking forward to completing the Beta version of our platform for product testing by end of the 2nd quarter of 2022. We hope to commence the onboarding of analysts (which is anyone with a passion for a section as explained above, not necessarily people with policy analyst experience). I will then start an aggressive search for investors because, it’s always better to have something in hand, a concept proven to gain the attention of quality potential investors.
And finally, have you got any tips for potential applicants?
Your idea doesn’t need to be about building the new unbreakable rocket that land on. The sun. Your idea should only solve a problem or make life easier. Masood Entrepreneurship Centre organise numerous workshops and seminars which helped me to rethink the way I presented my idea, shaped my value proposition, prepared my initial pitch deck, connected me to highly knowledgeable mentors and mentorship organisations to help me on this entrepreneurship journey. So just get in touch with MEC to discuss any idea you have, and they can help you polish it up and make it worthy of standing the chance of winning the Kickstarter Award!
PolicyCON: PEOPLE | PARTICIPATION | UTILISATION => TRUE POLICY MAKING - Post by Kwame Asamoah Kwarteng
Follow on Twitter: @policycon