Bashiru Mansaray is a 23 years old from Freetown, Sierra Leone. He is a self-described tech and social entrepreneur. From a very young age he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur and to serve people and his community by providing solutions to their problems.
After 3 years of exploring various opportunities and gaining first-hand experience in running a business, he started a company called OS Preneur. Since he started OS Preneur in 2019, he has since scaled it up to OS Corp, a group of companies that operate in technology, entrepreneurship (OS Hub), and social impact activities (OS Impact).
In Sierra Leone, due to the lack of decent work and employment opportunities, many youths have turned to entrepreneurship, yet the lack of an enabling ecosystem continues to plague young entrepreneurs. Digital connectivity remains sparse and weak and this is a challenge that Bashiru is tackling head on with his business.
OS Corp provides a platform for startups to have easier business registration, access to technological tools, resources and networks, as well as in the long-term, access to funding. Convincing business locally that digitizing their services is essential remained a substantial hurdle. That is, until coronavirus hit.
Covid-19 comes to Sierra Leone
The pandemic caused a dramatic decrease in the spending capacity of the clients OS Corp serves. This forced Bashiru to offer his services at a discount to boost the orders so that the company could continue to cover its operating expenses.
However, the pandemic brought about some emerging opportunities for his business. Before the pandemic, Bashiru often found it was difficult to market his tech services to local businesses because the digitization of their services was not seen as essential to reaching their customers. However, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the demand for OS Corp’s services has significantly increased and has seen many local businesses adapting their approaches and starting to embrace digital; a winning solution for both Bashiru and Sierra Leone in connecting with international markets.
Not only has OS Hub adapted, but Bashiru is offering use of the Hub free of charge until the end of the lockdown in Sierra Leone. A decision he believes will make a big difference to the companies that are struggling to maintain working space during the pandemic.
In addition, Bashiru has leveraged his skills in graphic design to support the initiatives of Plan International, an internationally recognized NGO that works to support vulnerable youth around the globe. This partnership is giving his work greater visibility and providing easy to understand information to Sierra Leone’s children and youth.
The side hustle: Raise public awareness about COVID-19
Bashiru has been working closely with Plan International Sierra Leone to raise public awareness about COVID-19 prevention, as well as to spread kindness in society. He and his team have developed and designed a series of youth friendly communication materials, including social media flyers, billboard banners, roll-up banners, and brochures for Plan International’s public campaigns on COVID-19.
OS Corps have also created an animated video about how to protect yourself and to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which provides practical and accurate information to the public.
Watch the full video below:
Looking beyond COVID-19
Bashiru and his team have come to realise that people and businesses need more understanding about the benefits of technology and how going digital can support their business’ growth. Since the start of the pandemic, Bashiru has come to understand at a more granular level how great an impact technology can have on people’s life and work, especially in times of crisis.
As the founder of a tech start up, he believes it is his responsibility to raise awareness and promote the positive benefits of technology and digital solutions for local businesses. He aims to continue to provide innovative solutions to people and communities that may not yet understand how a move to go digital can support their livelihoods. Moving forward, he plans to continue to lead his team and business towards becoming an innovator and change maker for our clients and communities. Working with Plan to raise awareness on COVID-19 has instilled in Bashiru a greater understanding of the need to educate his community on the power of digital and how his business can support their digital dream.
Bashiru is a member of the Ye! Community, powered by the International Trade Centre’s Youth and Trade Programme. He also serves as the Ye! Ambassador for Sierra Leone.
Ye! Ambassadors are youth leaders that connect and convene a local network of youth entrepreneurs. They volunteer their time to build partnerships and strengthen networks to create a vocal and interconnected community that can be leveraged by youth entrepreneurs needing support and guidance.
(All images are provided by Bashiru Mansaray)