After my first twenty-four hours in Buea, here are my thoughts. I have had a few meetings and discussions with friends and colleagues, and I have been amazed by how enterprising many of them are.

For context, Buea is the center of fraudulent activities in the region. It is a hub for many prominent – and aspiring – scammers (most of whom are about my age or were my classmates). According to the military, any and everyone who carries a laptop with them is a scammer. This hasty generalization has made life so hard for many innocent young people and unbearable for those who do not have someone “up there”, or money to bail themselves out. Therefore, finding young people striving to earn a living, HONESTLY, is a big deal.

Photo Credit: Kais Links

In a conversation, I told a friend that I love how enterprising and pushful she is. Clothes are expensive in Buea. Scammers have so much purchasing power, making it almost impossible for the average man to buy. My friend buys clothes and fashion trends from another town and sells them at affordable prices to people in her network. Her business, unfortunately, is seasonal as her ideal customers are students living in Buea. During breaks, these students leave Buea, and things become slow.

But here’s what I learned from her. If you want to sell something, go through your contact list and ask yourself what you can provide that the people in your contacts need. Then buy and sell to them at a profit. Of course, this looks nice in theory – things are a lot complex in practice.

Photo Credit: Sylvain Racaud

Summarily, there is potential in Buea – lots of it. Unfortunately, the bad has overshadowed the efforts others invest to uplift their socio-economic status. The conversations I have with people here inspire me to continue working on the long-term vision of the Goodwill Fellowship; to create a hub that transforms early-stage ideas into social enterprises.

For the first time in 12 years, I will stay here for more than a few days. I’m sure there’s a lot I’ll learn from the town and its people. Most importantly, I hope to leave in one piece when my work here is done. Read about why I say so here.

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