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Summer Archives

James Raubenheimer

Accra, Ghana - iSpace Foundation

Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship in Accra 


Every day at iSpace, an innovation hub and coworking space located in the large city of Accra in Ghana, one sees the hustle and bustle of young, ambitious technically savvy Ghanaians working, living, sleeping, relaxing, chattering, coding, and innovating. In my first 2 weeks there, I worked one-on-one to allow several people set up their businesses, judged a pitch competition, taught a group of 40 teachers how to teach code who would go on to teach 24,000 students how to code, and developed a curriculum which Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Computing(GIFEC) would use to teach all students to code and use computers across the country.


Throughout the next 8 weeks at iSpace, I undertook a large number of different projects. I worked one-on-one with the 2017 batch of the Unlocking Women and Technology (UWAT) business incubator program. Some of the initial businesses I worked with were an image consultancy platform focused on building self-confidence, an online bus ticket booking application, a business that transforms trash into decor, and a marketplace for handmade African goods. 


I designed 2 curriculums for the new 5-week iSpace Coding Camp. I created 2 biogs for iSpace and UWAT and worked with a media intern at iSpace to develop content for the biogs, publishing my research report in a series of blog posts. Through weekly classes, I taught a group of 12 young students the basics of game and web development, helping 2 of those students develop an autonomous robot to compete in a competition in China.


I spent a large majority learning the programming framework used to build the iSpace and UWAT websites and eventually reformatting the websites. I made the decision in the last week of my project to build 2 completely new websites for iSpace and UWAT using a website builder since the developer who built the websites was leaving. I developed an iSpace podcast, interviewed two guests, and trained individuals at iSpace how to conduct and edit future podcast episodes.


I worked with the 2018 group of 26 UWAT women to teach them the backend skills needed to develop their applications, collaborate with people using online software, and publish their applications online. I created several promotional videos for iSpace and UWATto be posted on the YouTube page and worked to mentor someone at iSpace who could edit and post further videos to the YouTube pages. I mentored and collaborated with the entrepreneurs starting businesses at iSpace including an online payment platform, an application that connects doctors to patients, and an online delivery service.


In my last 2 weeks in Ghana, I represented iSpace at 3 different conferences in Accra (MESH Creative Confab, National Mentorship Day, Ghana Tech Summit) where I networked with many entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders while learning about the future of Ghana and West Africa. Surfing every weekend and coding every night, I will always cherish the time I spent in Accra. I left iSpace, chatting away in a hybrid Ghanaian-English tongue, biking away with a promise to return.