Why do we do what we do?


…Daaavi and the Strange Banker at Kpeme!

In the early 1990s, my family embarked on a new adventure as we relocated to Kpeme in the Volta Region of Ghana. The reason behind our move was my dad’s transfer as a senior police officer to take charge of one of the newly established police stations. This transition brought with it a mix of excitement and uncertainty, particularly for us the kids. We were thrilled at the prospect of a new home in an unfamiliar place.

Once we had settled into our new surroundings, my mother – always resourceful and eager to contribute to the community – decided to open a small grocery shop. Daavi’s shop would serve the needs of our neighbours who often had to walk to the main road to access basic household items. Little did we know that my mother’s shop would soon become a lifeline for the residents, a dependable source for their daily necessities. Business began to flourish gradually, and my siblings and I quickly made new friends in our vibrant community.

Occasionally, we would step in to assist our mother with running the shop when she had other responsibilities to attend. There were a few regular customers we looked forward to seeing on weekends, and one of them was a banker who owned a sleek Nissan Altima – a vehicle that left us kids in awe.

During those memorable weekends, this banker would arrive at our shop and load up an assortment of drinks – often returning the next day for more. It became clear that he wasn’t just stocking up for himself; he was known for treating the ‘area boys’ and his friends to extravagant feasts. They referred to these gatherings as ‘sitting for the boys’, a time for relaxation, laughter and engaging in conversations to unwind from demands of the week.

Our move to Kpeme had transformed into an enriching experience for our family. Through my mother’s enterprising spirit, we not only found a sense of belonging within our newfound community but also played a role in making life more convenient for our neighbours. The memorable visits from the banker and his extravagant gatherings added a touch of excitement to our otherwise ordinary weekends.

One sunny afternoon, as the familiar routine of our lives in Kpeme continued, my mom decided to do something special for our loyal customers – including the friendly banker who often visited our shop. She was known for her warm heart and generosity, and this day was no exception.

With her thoughtful plan in mind, she decided to surprise our regular customers with a little treat. She knew that the banker’s gatherings with the ‘area boys’ and friends were a regular occurrence, so she thought it would be a wonderful idea to contribute to their feast. After all, our shop had thrived because of support from the community, and my mom believed in giving back whenever she could.

Mum carefully selected a variety of items from our shop including soft drinks, snacks and even some special Ghanaian delicacies such as homemade ‘Agbeli kaklo’.

The following day, when the banker arrived at our shop in his trusty Nissan Altima he was greeted with a warm smile from my mom. She presented him with one of the baskets filled with goodies and thanked him for being such a loyal customer. He was genuinely touched by the gesture, appreciating the kindness that was not often seen in business transactions.

Word quickly spread throughout the community about my mom’s thoughtful act, and it was met with an overwhelmingly positive response. People appreciated her not just as a shop-owner but as a friend and neighbour who truly cared about the community’s well-being.

The banker, touched by my mom’s generosity, decided to pay it forward. During his next visit, he brought a box of books for us the kids – an act that we couldn’t thank him enough for because it sparked our desire to read and read even more.

As time went on, our shop became more than just a place to buy groceries; it became a hub of kindness and goodwill. Our family had found a home in Kpeme, not just in terms of residence but in the hearts of the people who lived there. And it was all thanks to my mom’s simple yet profound act of generosity that brought our community closer together.

Years later during a visit to our mother, now that we were all grown up, she shared a heartwarming story from her days running the ‘provision’ shop (grocery store) in Kpeme.

She recounted how a regular customer, the banker, used to visit her shop every weekend to purchase a considerable amount of drinks. With genuine concern and good intentions, she suggested to him that he could save money and reduce the hassle of multiple trips by buying these drinks directly from the distributors on the main road.

Her suggestion, however, prompted an eye-opening response from the banker. He explained that while it might be slightly cheaper to buy from the distributors, he chose to support her shop because he saw it as a way of giving back to the community. He recognised that by continuing to patronise her store, he was not only helping her sustain her business but also assisting others in the community to earn a living. Moreover, it allowed him to engage with his neighbours to cultivate a sense of camaraderie.

Chale, people do things for reasons best known to them. While some may act with ill intentions, others do so with a good heart. That was one of those instances. The banker’s perspective on supporting local businesses and strengthening bonds within a community is something we can all begin to learn and live by. Together, we can all help people in our communities.

Let’s pick some personal branding tips from here:

Get Involved: Personal branding isn’t just about one’s skills or achievements; it’s also about how one can engage with and contribute to their small communities and niches. Similar to how my mother opened a small grocery shop to serve our neighbours, individuals should actively seek opportunities to make a positive impact in these smaller areas, communities and niches. Building your personal brand involves being an active and supportive member of any community you want to serve and impact.

Be Kind: The intrinsic values of a personal brand are of paramount importance. The question to ask is: “What values do you uphold?” Building your personal brand isn’t solely about what you can do but also about the values you uphold and exemplify. My mother’s act of generosity – when she surprised her loyal customers, including the banker, with gifts – highlighted the power of kindness. To strengthen your personal brand, aim to build it on a foundation of goodwill and genuine care for others. When you genuinely care about others, it leads to word-of-mouth marketing and generates more buzz for your brand. Be kind!

Be Consistent: The banker’s choice to continue supporting my mother’s shop, even when there were potentially cheaper options, emphasised the importance of consistency and loyalty in personal branding. Focus on consistently delivering quality and maintaining trust to foster growth. Over time, this can help you build a positive reputation. Consistency matters.

Be Authentic: In a world full of counterfeit brands, authenticity triumphs effortlessly. Don’t fake it! The banker’s explanation for choosing to support my mother’s shop underlined the significance of authenticity in personal branding. When your actions align with your values and demonstrate a sincere commitment to community building, it strengthens your personal brand. Being authentic can attract like-minded individuals and create a sense of belonging.

Reciprocate: Many times, you may have to give without expecting anything in return – and do so with a pure heart and mind. The banker gave without expecting anything, but it paid huge dividends for him and people in the community. Acts of kindness and giving back can not only enhance your personal brand but also leave a lasting impact on others. Seek opportunities to make a positive difference in the lives of those around you, as it reflects positively on your personal brand.

Bernard Kelvin Clive is a multi-talented individual who has made a name for himself as a leading authority on personal branding and digital book publishing in Africa.

As a brand strategist at BKC Consulting, he runs the monthly Branding & Publishing Masterclass, helping individuals take their personal and professional brands to new heights. To learn more about Bernard and his work, visit www.BKC.name.

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