February 2017 saw the inception of Freetown Business School, a project which could ultimately see Freetown being the go-to place in Africa for post-graduate business education.
Freetown Business School (FBS) was founded by Christine Sesay, Alfred Akibo-Betts and Violet Asgill. It caters to just about everyone interested in advancing their business education and skills: Post-graduates, Professionals, Executives, Tutors and Lecturers, Entrepreneurs, Organisations looking to train their staff, and casual learners.
It opened because the founders’ experience revealed a lack of trained professionals with the necessary exposure in order to be effective in Sierra Leone business. They also noted the expenses involved in enrolling with regional and international business schools, and recognised that most people could not afford those opportunities.
We spoke to Alfred Akibo-Betts, one of the co-founders of FBS, to see if we could recommend it.
Who is Alfred Akibo-Betts?
As a kid, Alfred had a keen interest in basketball and his playful side emerges at various points during our conversation. From an early age, he was already involved in running a business – his first job came at age 13 with his family’s building materials company Universal Services. No wonder business became second nature to him. He credits this background for his success along with his other qualities. He also has a deep love and interest in architecture and real estate. He renovates spaces for a hobby, infusing them with his own ideas and vision. Asked what he learn along the way to being Co-founder of FBS, “Take people how they come,” he declares, talking about being patient with people and making the best of situations. “I don’t take things personal. I’m quick to let go of things. If something’s not working I forget about it and move on. And most of all I believe one hundred percent in myself.”
What does a businessperson need to be successful in Sierra Leone?
Alfred grew up in Freetown and like his partners has a keen sense of what it takes to be successful in business in Sierra Leone. Keeping track of one’s cash flow is critical and having a dedicated accounting section could be a terrific way of doing that, he says. Being good at managing people is important as is having a keen and interest in self-improvement and constant learning. When starting a new business presentation and confidence is key, as is recognising potential clientele.
Why is Sierra Leone lagging behind the rest of the world in Private Sector Development?
FBS he says, aims to nurture applicable business and life skills in its students, encouraging them to use their intuition and innovation. “Most people can’t think outside the box” he says. It is something discouraged inadvertently by Sierra Leone’s school system where students learn by rote instead of understanding underlying principle, resulting in graduates lacking the ability to think independently. In addition, many entrepreneurs and professionals lack the exposure to International standard products and services and thus don’t stand a chance at meeting those standards.
Where will FBS be in 5 years?
“We want to be the leading tertiary education provider for all things related to business and entrepreneurship,” he says. They want to do things differently to most places of education in Sierra Leone, incorporating a lot of practical and technological modes of learning, as well as showcasing the experience and skills of the most successful businesspeople in Sierra Leone. FBS certainly have lofty ambitions, hoping to eventually rival the biggest business schools in the world.
Our recommendation: Sign-up!