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03.10.2014 Feature Article

The Journey So Far With Chris Orlando

The Journey So Far With Chris Orlando
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Chris Orlando: I was born on 21st march 1990.

*Prince: Can you share with us the history of the school you've attended?*

Chris Orlando: I started Comforter preparatory school and then moved to Taifa community school. From there, I continued to St. Thomas Aquinas Senior High school. I am now reading Chattered Marketing at the Central University College a UK course.

I stayed on University of Ghana Campus for 2 years, without been a student but I was going to their university hall, I attended lectures in the business school. I stayed on campus but I wasn't a student. My aim was to study the pattern of the school and what I realised was that student's complete business school but can't start their own business.

*Prince: **Could you share with us some of the achievements during your schooling days?*

*Chris Orlando:* I was one of the best student in my school after we wrote the BECE and in SHS, I was the SRC general secretary. I received an award as the best prefect of the year, most creative prefect and I designed the website for my school, which is no more in existence.

*Prince: **So currently what are the things you do?*

*Chris* *Orlando*: Currently I do a lot of things, I am currently working with my mentor at Websoft Solution, so far the best IT Company in Ghana. I am the product manager of InstocPro, inventory software. I started CEO's Talk in 2011 as a social enterprise, that is empowering young people to be change makers in Africa starting from Ghana. I co-founded it with a friend, Darlington, currently in Ashesi University with the help of few other friends.

We know that the educational system couldn't offer the opportunity to have a mentor, so we created that platform to raise people to be entrepreneurs and game changers in Ghana and I'm involved in quite a number of things. I am a Global Citizen member or fellow which is a global citizen initiative.
I was elated last year to be part of it, I have started my investment holding to support start-up and we are looking into seeing 20 years to be investing billions in Africa so we've started it. Some of the things I do on part-time with schooling at CIM-UK.

*Prince: **In starting all these, what was your inspiration?*

*Chris Orlando*: My inspiration was to be a change maker. I believe I was going to be a catalyst for growth and help people achieve excellence in their lives. Starting CEOs Talk I had to be going to schools as part of a youth group in my church. We used to go to schools to start fellowships and I saw that we have problems with career management which affected results, career placement training into the universities and mental attitudes.

We therefore entered into a campaign to change that and that was how CEO talk was born. We've had successful conferences and workshops in so many schools in Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast, and Botwe and out of this we birthed CEOs Talk something that will continue when we are not there.

*Prince: **Could you share with us the strategies that have been used to explore these great ideas?*

Chris Orlando: One of the things you need to do when you have an idea: an idea is the cheapest thing you can have in life because everybody is having an idea. It's been stated that when you have an idea, there are over a billion people in the world who have same idea. When you act on your idea that is when the difference comes. When you get an idea, it is just like a raw material, you need to process the idea to become a fine product that can be used by people.

You have to study your idea, do a market research, how feasible is the idea, how many people are already doing that you want to do. You can just Google it whether someone is doing something or how differently you can also do it. After studying the system you now begin to know how to deal with it more differently, and that alone opens your perspective to run with that idea. That is what I think young people should do, when they get an idea, evaluate your idea and do your market research then you will be off.
Successful people act, unsuccessful people don't act so acting without knowledge is very fatal and knowledge without action is also fatal so you need to act.

*Prince: **How has the journey being so far?*

Chris Orlando: Chris Orlando: The journey so far has been great and fulfilling. There are challenges, the challenges are bread for us, and here lies the case. When I started CEOs Talk, it had to do with funding because it was a social enterprise. We didn't plan of making money out of people but rather inspire them to achieve greatness.

There is a saying that, when you want to start a business you need money, which I disagree. You don't need money to start a business. Many people have started business out of nothing. We started CEOs Talk out of nothing and we are not doing it for profit purpose but we have been able to defy the odd. When you find a great WHY, you will find a great HOW to achieve it.

Discovering the why (why you are into it) and if you are into business just because you want to make money, that is a poor dream because money is the cheapest thing to make in the world. All you need is an idea and if you want to do it alone, that is where you struggle the most, partnership is the way forward. You might have the idea, someone might have the money and you will be able to achieve your goals.

*Prince: **You've mentioned challenges, how would you advice young people to overcome them?*

Chris Orlando: Travelling across the nation to empower people in Tamale were financial constraints which we overcame because of partnership and getting young people to think like you was also an issue and the older generation does not believe in you because you tell them and they don't believe in what you doing. You will have challenges from different angles such as visionary challenges. It will get to a time you will not believe in what you are doing.

*Prince: **What have been the achievements so far?*

Chris Orlando: With CEOs Talk we have been able to empower about 3000 people through our conferences and this year we look forward to push the vision. Four young people have started their business. That is, a Cocoa and grass cutter farms and have employed people. Another person has also started an IT firm, *Crown City Technologies,* all these as a result of our conferences and impact. We seek to do more as we have instituted a new management for CEOs Talk made up of young people we raised through this program and are in the universities.

*Prince: **What has been some of the feedbacks from other young people and what are some of the untold stories?*

Chris Orlando: A young girl gave up in life due to the challenges she was facing in school but with our success motivational talk, I prayed with her as a Christian and confessed she nearly killed herself but when she came for the meeting, she knew she could become a successful person. She replied us through the mail telling us how her life has changed and she is currently in the University of Ghana. One of the things we tell people is to take personal responsibility for their life and I think that is what we are on.

*Prince: **What has been that biggest failure in CEOs Talk?*

Chris Orlando: I wouldn't describe it as a failure because *Brian Tracy said 'failure is a feedback*, there is nothing like failure in life, rather it helps you to plan well. Before we had the first Ecamp Africa, it was supposed to have happened on the 8th of June 2013, we printed a lot of things, certificates, invited our guests paid for the conference hall.

A week to the program, we had a call that there is a renovation going on so we had to cancel the program and we couldn't get any venue at that time and that was our major investment to the Ecamp. We had to refund people's money to them and re-organise for 12th October 2013. We had sponsors, but they now didn't believe whether will be able to do it or not because of the cancellation, which wasn't our fault. So now anything we do, we have alternatives.

*Prince: **Do you believe Africa can be rebuilt?*

Chris Orlando: Africa is been rebuilt. It is in the process, but when you ask if it can be rebuilt, it seems as an assumption or something in the future but Africa Is been rebuilt by young people. Young people everywhere making changes, step by step, day by day and I believe Africa is rising.

And Africa rising does not just mean Africa has gotten to a stage and is now waking up. It is the young people of Africa that are waking up to take up the helm of affairs because they believe that they can do something about Africa. Someone said the 21st century is a century for young people and all the success stories in the 21st story are young people, so the young people of Africa have woken up to the reality that they too can do something to change the face of Africa. Africa is the next super power in the world and with some people we will be able to make a change together.

*Prince: **Are we seeing CEOs Talk to rebuild Africa?*

Chris Orlando: We are going to forge new partnerships, to empower people all around Africa. So we see on leveraging upon different opportunities. We are coming out with our website, mobile app to help people get access to real information from successful young people in Africa. Different things that will help empower more people as this year. Isuccess which stated in
2013 empowered close to 1500 people in SHS.

This year we are taking it to 5000 people and we've started empowering them on entrepreneurship and technology and right back to the hinterlands and inspire them. We don't have to stop our jobs; we all do it on part time. So we seek to increase impacts in rural areas and some other parts of Africa.

*Prince: **So what are we seeing Chris Orlando in the next few years?*

Chris Orlando: I will become an advocate for the economic development of Africa by creating jobs. Poverty is very bad, a poor man has little to offer the world and we can end poverty when the society develops. You will see Chris also become a multi-national investor. I believe in impact, investing in people, businesses and will be brand recognise to impact people all around.

*Prince: **Who are your mentors?*

Chris Orlando: Mentors are a great gift to society. I would like to use this opportunity to thank my mentor, who believed in me and gave me opportunities, the CEO of Websoft Solutions and the President of Soft Group ltd, Mr. Godwin Martey. He is my mentor and shows me what to do. I work with him and learn a lot. And I have role models like Dr. Strive Masiyiwa of Econet Group, Sir Richard Brandson, Aliko Dangote, CEO of Mara Group, John Armah, Fred Deegbe and other young people who are doing stuffs in the country thinking of changing the world.

*Prince: **In the nearby future, what would the world recognise you for?*

Chris Orlando: I will be recognised for business. I believe Africa will not be built by politicians or government. They don't know how to generate revenue in society, all they do is to put in structures and create the environment that would help entrepreneurs in the society. Politicians cannot create jobs, it is entrepreneurs that create jobs and I am going to father people to become entrepreneurs. I believe entrepreneurship is the future of Africa.

*Prince: **Apart from all the hard work, what do you do as a hobby?*

Chris Orlando: I like reading a lot, I'm a book addict. One of the things I can fight anyone is when the person misplaces my book. Inside books, are mansions, empires, millions of dollars. If they say if you want to keep something from an African, hide it in the book. For me, if you keep it in a book I will dig it and find it. I quite remember when I went to South Africa, and we visited the mall, I bought nothing else than books.

*Prince: **What acknowledgements do you have for people that have really inspired you to be where you are today?*

Chris Orlando:Acknowledgement goes out to Pastor Chris, Dr. Mensa Otabil, Rev. Albert Ocran, Godwin Martey, my partner and business friend Desmond Darlington, Shirley Ofori, and others.

*Prince: **What is your Motto in life?*

Chris Orlando:Formal Education will earn you a living, but self education will earn you a fortune and fortune favours the bold by *Zukerburg*.

*Prince: **What are your final words to young people out there who are looking up to you as their role model?*

Chris Orlando: Change is possible and you must be the change you want to see in the society, let us not only talk about change, let's build change.
Many people are waking up to see what we can be and as a young person dream big as you can because there is no law against dreaming big.

*Dream Big, Talk Big and act Big.* When dreaming big, start from where you are, start with what you have. If you want to employ ten million people, start with one person; that might be yourself. If you want to have a multinational company, start it, it might be in your garage. Whatever you want to start, start even if it is selling bottles.

Prince Akpah
Prince Akpah

News ContributorPage: AkpahPrince

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