Somewhere off Accra’s N1 highway, on the first floor of a multi-storey office block, youth and audacity have found a new address. Stanley Kwashie Anani and Michael Mettle-Nunoo, the young founders of a creative agency recently moved offices to share this floor with a large multinational oil services company. Next door, in the adjacent tower, is another large multinational oil company.
Each morning, as they climb up to work, they are served a visual reminder of how far they have come, and how much further they can go. Both in their early twenties, Anani and Mettle-Nunoo are crystal clear how far they want to go and the infinite opportunities Ghana and Africa presents them. So much so that Mettle-Nunoo turned down all the job offers he received. And Anani didn’t even bother look for a job. Anani tells me he has set out to be “one of the youngest millionaires in Ghana”. With their blossoming venture, Effect Studios, they are set on curating a successful future for themselves.
Effect Studios is a digital creative agency they have been building for close to a year now. It is a partnership they settled on, to be able to translate the traditional marketing approaches that are available to a company, onto a digital platform. “We create everything that you need to reach out to your clients so if it means building an app, we build it, so your clients can relate to you better. If it means developing a website for you or shooting a video that would communicate to your client better we do that for you. If it means branding your company to look good on the outside we do that for you,” Anani – who plays a general manager role, and also doubles as creative lead – breaks it down.
The ‘Studios’ part of the company’s name couldn’t have been more apt; every day, their team of fourteen breeze in and out of the office to create adverts, design logos, build mobile phone applications, create websites, design animated videos, or make architectural renderings of buildings for their varied clients. It’s a place made for creating, the way a studio is. If they choose to, they don’t even have to come there to do that. When Anani and Mettle-Nunoo were forming Effect Studios, they were serious about it not being a conventional workplace. It is also a lifestyle statement. They believe the 9-5 way of work is not for this time, at least in their world.
You can work wherever you want, home or office, as long as you deliver on your tasks. It is to free their colleagues up to work on things they are passionate about on the side. After all, Effect Studios is a culmination of a history of many side projects. They were always doing something on the side. When they met at Presbyterian Boys High School (PRESEC) in Accra as teenagers, Stanley was designing and printing t-shirts and fliers for sale in and out of PRESEC, while Mettle-Nunool sold computer accessories and video game consoles, all on the side of their studies. When they parted to different universities, Mettle-Nunoo started an Apple device service at Regent University College – a business that has survived on the side to this day. Anani sold energy drinks out of the boot of his car and started a pizza business which failed but metamorphosed into a thriving restaurant at Legon.
All those side projects, were started for pragmatic reasons, especially for Mettle-Nunoo. “Sometimes back then in school, nobody was going to send you money from home, and there wasn’t any money to send anyway, so I had to start something for myself,” he says. Anani, who was raised by an entrepreneurial father says he loves the hustle of business and adds “I can’t wait till I’m 35 to do something for myself. There’s an urge to actually put myself on that pedestal that I could actually help anybody”.
It is that sense of pragmatism that has carried them on, serially forming ventures and failing at several of them, at every point moving forward with the lessons. It has also been a guide for the way they do business. They form alliances and partnerships wherever it makes sense, a semblance of what makes them different in a climate where many entrepreneurs don’t do well with that. In fact, Effect Studios was formed because they were trading services off of each other so often that it made sense to bring it all together. As the company has grown bigger, they have taken on additional partners to shoulder some of the responsibility. “What’s the point of owning 100% if the business is making just 2 Cedis. We reached the point where we decided that if some good people come on board we could achieve greater heights, so we opened up,” Anani explains. Now they co-own Effect Studios with Steven Elorm Klogo and Frederick Hesse-Tetteh, two equally hungry young men.
Having navigated the challenges of starting a business as young people, they are keen to help lessen the burdens of others after them.
Anani and Mettle-Nunoo are encouraging and inspiring young people to build passions on the side of their day jobs. And they have put their money where their hearts are by providing space and support – akin to an incubator – for ventures started by other young people.
By so generously sharing resources, ideas, opportunities and technology with so many, Anani and Mettle-Nunoo are providing an image of the future for work in Ghana. Somewhere in Dzorwulu, Accra, the sharing economy can find poster kids at Effect Studios.