Kofi Oppong, the founder of the award-winning charity Urban MBA, had a lot to say about how to get people the tools they need to survive and adapt to change. Even as at this writing the Covid-19 pandemic disrupts r traditional work environments and structures leaving millions unemployed, Kofi points out that people were already living in fear of the day when they would become redundant and replaced by some form of automation within their companies. Those that have been faster to see the warning signs have pushed themselves into new career paths or have decided to go into business for themselves as freelancers – all with varying degrees of success. In a recent interview, we asked Kofi about the effects of diversity and inclusion on entrepreneurship, the growth it offers workers, and how coworking spaces contribute to this
Oppong argues that even though entrepreneurship isn’t something that can necessarily be taught and isn’t for everyone, there are basic tools that anyone can learn and apply to be a successful self-employed worker. Skillsets that traditional business courses fail to encourage — due in part to the current way people absorb information and the sheer density of the workload that makes attaining these skills seem impossible. Oppong also goes on to explain that although entrepreneurship offers people better control over their wealth, especially when it comes to their taxes, it should also be seen as an opportunity for people to pursue projects and work in fields that they genuinely care about and therefore make the work more meaningful. Entrepreneurship can also give access to opportunities that may have not been possible for many people, either because of lack of access to them, inexperience, or a sense that they and their inputs are unwelcome due to age, gender, ethnicity or educational background.
He also points out that coworking spaces are essential to not only the support of individual freelancers in building their careers but also to building communities and promoting strong coworking ventures between professionals based on expertise and outcomes of a project, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, education, and so on, and therefore promoting diversity. Oppong feels that coworking spaces, which play such an important role in the freelance community, need to seek out and amplify role models to not only draw the attention of current professionals in the market but talented youths that are just entering the workforce to show them that traditional work environments aren’t the only avenues available to them embarking on their careers. To achieve that, coworking spaces will need to be creative in how they communicate, through their marketing and PR campaigns, in order to compete with the draw that large corporates offer and that, admittedly, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when doing so.
Oppong also shares the greatest secret that the most successful entrepreneurs have discovered for themselves and which we should all strive for:
“You have to find something that you love and the trick about entrepreneurship is actually for that person to work out what they love. That’s always been the trick of life… It isn’t about entrepreneurship, it’s about you.”