William Senyo - architect of Accra’s start-up hub
Edem Senyo had always known that he was destined for great things. He held on firmly to this belief, and went in search of opportunities to create the success that he knew awaited him.
Senyo is the CEO of Impact Hub Accra which he co-founded at Osu Ako-Ajei 2013. Impact Hub Accra provides young and start-up entrepreneurs workspaces, connection to a global community of entrepreneurs and access to capital.
Five years later, Impact Hub Accra has become the start-up hotspot in Accra. Thanks to the cross-pollination of ideas and dreams of so many diverse entrepreneurs under one roof, it is a critical support system for many of the city’s young entrepreneurs and a hot bed of co-creation and innovation.
In addition to supporting local entrepreneurs, Impact Hub Accra also provides a ‘soft-landing’ for overseas start-ups doing business in Ghana.
Senyo grew up somewhat disadvantaged at Jamestown – old Accra – to an often-unemployed-accountant father and bar-operator mother. The loner and avid reader could never quite fit in at home or in school.
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School was not challenging, his classmates were not engaging and, as is often the case with very bright children, his teachers were way more interesting than the other students.
After the Labone High School and an undergraduate degree in agri-business from the University of Ghana, Senyo first worked in sales at the HFC (now Republic Bank) and Databank then moved into sales and client relations at MTN whereas area manager, he was responsible for managing relationships of the tech giant’s retail customers.
The training in sales and marketing he received must’ve put in him in goodstead for the businesses he has since built.
In the last six years, Senyo has poured his energies and skills into building an institution of lasting impact for the growing community of Accra’s young entrepreneurs who thrive on and draw from the energy of possibilities in the Impact Hub ecosystem.
Senyo started his first (and break through) venture at the Accra Startup Weekend, a hackathon, in 2012.
As project manager in a non-profit organisation before this time, his idealistic self had grown disillusioned with the non-profit world.
“It was, it seems, perpetuating itself instead of finding a way to be out of business”.
When he joined the hackathon, he must’ve seen an opportunity to build something that matched his own sense of how to change the world.
Senyo pitched an idea to build a platform to help startups raise funding for their projects by pooling monies of micro investors who would in exchange for their cash own slices of these early stage businesses.
Senyo’s his team won the competition. As funding for startups is a constant pain, it’s not hard to see why the judges loved his plan.
After this, Senyo became CEO and co-founder of SliceBiz, the business that he built around the idea.
In the months that followed, Senyo’s idea won funding and other competitions from the Rockefeller and Tony Elumelu Foundations, the US State Department’s Apps4Africa challenge, the Impact Economy Innovation Fund amongst others.
SliceBiz’s potential brought it popularity overnight and Senyo who quickly received recognition as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper and Kairos fellow, was travelling the world as a hot-selling poster child of the ‘Africa Rising’ fanfare sitting on panel discussions and speaker engagements.
Impact Hub Accra
In the heat of all this, Senyo found some extra space to co-found the Impact Hub Accra, a shared workspace and startup hotspot.
Impact Hub Accra is a vibrant workspace used by technology entrepreneurs, startups, freelancers and a host of other professionals looking for its unique counter culture attitude to work, life and fixing problems for social impact, international profile and extensive network.
In its five year existence, it’s been home to over 165 companies both local early stage and multinational like: Taxify, Space Turnkey, Chalkboard and among others.
According to Senyo, it has also created on average 120 new jobs each year and done work for some global brands, including the VOA news network and, Merck Pharma – a Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical company.
With some 10 plus companies currently working out of the hub and 200 regular members and growing, Senyo is set to launch the next phase of his vision for an impact creating hub.