The GhanaThink Foundation, an NGO based both in Ghana and the USA, has successfully organized 16 BarCamps in Ghana since Dec 2008. A Barcamp is a free networking forum to bring people together for a day of discussion, demos and dialogue on Ghana and beyond. The organizers of these events and young and tech savvy volunteers who put in some time into this social activity. After 2009, the organizers challenged themselves to replicate this concept in other regional capitals in Ghana since it was only available to persons in Accra. Since then, Foundation, through the support of its donors and sponsors have been to Tamale, Cape Coast, Takoradi, Ho, Sunyani and Accra. In the next year, the team hopes to get enough financial support to hold Barcamps in Wa, Bolgatanga and Koforidua.
At Barcamp, young Ghanaian achievers meet other attendees with similar intentions and go ahead to collaborate and start a business or project. Two of notable projects born out of Barcamps are Health Reach and Ghana Technology User Groups (GTUGs) on various campuses. Many entrepreneurs and leaders have been to Barcamp in one region or the other to share ideas and inspire the attendees to achieve something significant. Some of these speakers include, Patrick Awuah (President and Founder of Ashesi College) , Estelle Akofio-Sowah (Country Manager of Google Ghana), Yoofi Grant (Executive Director of Databank ), Esi Cleland (co-founder of Afrochic) and Nana Nketsia V (Omanhene Esikado).
Last weekend, the team was in Cape Coast to have its 16th Barcamp on th University of Cape Coast campus. Barcamp Cape Coast 2012 was be organized in conjunction with the University of Cape Coast (UCC) Google Developer Group (GDG). It built knowledge on how to improve education using the arts and technology. It also investigated how to incorporate technology into teaching and education.
The main things that make Barcamps unique from other conferences include
Startup Bazaar: Startup Bazaar was introduced into the Barcamp concept in 2009. It creates a platform for start-ups to exhibit their services and get feedback from attendees, sponsors and experts. At this point exhibiting start-ups also have the opportunity to connect with other attendees who have similar ideas.
Speed-Mentoring: Speed-mentoring connects mentors to attendees. In cycles of 5-minutes, attendees get the rare chance of meeting industry experts to ask them questions pertaining to their future goals or objectives. Leaders who have partaken in past Speed-mentoring sessions include; Albert Ocran (Combert Impressions), Kofi Dadzie (Rancard Mobility), Maximux Ametorgoh (PopOut), Leila Djansi (Producer of Sinking Sands), Bernad Avle (Citifm), just to mention a few.
Break-Out Sessions: Break-Out sessions are smaller groups of discussions on specific topics. These sessions defined Barcamps and are started by attendees at the event. For every break-out sessions, the Foundation expects the participants to come up with Action Plans which will be followed up on.
Barcamps have been made possible because of the kind donations from its sponsors and donors. The movement has been supported by Vodafone Ghana, the World Bank, Blogging Ghana/GhanaDecides, Firefox, Nandimobile, Google, Guinness Ghana Ltd, Fly540, Busy Internet, etc.