This time last year, many Black Americans found their way to Ghana for the Year of The Return — a tourism initiative to bring more African Americans to the country to boost the economy and make Ghana the new travel hotspot for Black travelers. While the COVID-19 pandemic has canceled many notable live events around the world, including the highly-anticipated Afrochella held in Ghana, their business is still looking to make innovative solutions to help their patrons stay connected.
Afrochella co-founder Abdul Karim Abdulla says while the pandemic has caused their team to pivot, they were already looking into ways to expand their events brand into a virtual space in order to connect with the diaspora on a global scale. “It’s caused us to be better,” he said in an interview with BLACK ENTERPRISE over Zoom.
“It has taught us that we have to have a digital presence.”
Earlier this year, the company hosted Afrochella Talks virtual event, which served as their first virtual event. Over the Christmas weekend, they hosted the Afrochella Block Party 2020 as their first in-person social distancing event since the annual festival was canceled in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We knew we didn’t want the year to go by without doing some kind of activation,” said Abdulla, explaining how much it would affect not only their business but the numerous local businesses and workforce that depend on tourism. They worked closely with the government and the ministry of tourism, which highly encouraged their team to host the event to help local businesses and work to ensure the patrons’ safety.
Despite the setbacks, Abdulla says that the COVID-19 pandemic has helped his team fortify new strategies to protect their customers while using creativity and innovation to find new ways to enjoy live events once again.
“Prior to this pandemic, none have been in a situation where we had to think about these things,” he said. “We now have strategies in place for people coming into Ghana [going into the new year]. We’re very hopeful with the advancement of these vaccines and people getting them that we can have an event that looks close to like we did in 2019 and still be able to enjoy a live event.”