Interviewing Miss Taxi Ghana: Gender, Entrepreneurialism, and Social Media

In mid-conversation at the Ghana Studies Association Conference
At this summer’s Ghana Studies Conference, a series of questions about social media, technology, and new entrepreneurial efforts in response to my paper presentation reminded me of a new service in Accra–Miss Taxi Ghana, created and operated by Esenam Nyador, a graduate of University of Ghana with a Master’s degree, whose expertise sits at the intersection of gender studies, business administration, social work, and sociology. Esenam’s work has been recognized in national and international media, and she has been featured as a speaker at TEDxAccra.

Esenam speaking at TEDxAccra’s Womenomics event

I had been following Miss Taxi Ghana’s Facebook page, intrigued by the gendered implications of this business and the ways it spoke to the shifting dynamics of commercial motor transportation in Ghana.  These questions (and direct encouragement from some) motivated me to contact Esenam, who quickly accepted my Facebook friend request.  As I looked through her timeline, I realized that she had shared the announcement of my book’s release months earlier.  The next day, a colleague came to tell me that she had just met Miss Taxi herself in the washroom downstairs and told her about our discussion the previous day.  Apparently she drove someone to the conference in Cape Coast and was preparing for her return trip.  The world is a small one.  I quickly contacted Esenam, hoping to set up an interview in the few days I had left upon my return to Accra.  We met in Osu and had a long conversation about the gendered, regulatory, technological, and infrastructural politics of motor transportation in Accra.

Esenam and her taxi on Oxford Street, Osu, Accra

While I intend to work with Esenam to develop a more formal article on gender and driving work, I have included the bulk of our (transcribed) interview here, largely unedited.

July 12, 2016

Nourishlab Smoothies, Oxford Street, Osu, Accra

Jennifer (J): What inspired you to start your company and when did you start it?

Esenam (E): Well, everything started in the year 2013. That would be May 15th, 2013. But I think it started…this whole idea of venturing into such a male-dominated field started somewhere November 2012 because I had wanted to drive a tipper truck. We call it tipper-truck here. You call it dump-truck. And I had roamed all of the ranks, all of the parking lots where you could find these dump-trucks trying to meet with any of the male drivers to take me on as a trainee driver, but it’s their space. They feel they’re entitled to that space, and for me even thinking about it, I guess they thought I’m obnoxious. They were like, how? Why would you want to do this. And then in some of the parking lots, they do have women who deal in sand and stones like the women will contract these drivers—tipper truck drivers—to go cart stones for them at the quarry site. But they were like, “Why would you like to drive the truck yourself? Why would you not join the ladies? We could fix you, we could help you talk to the ladies and then you would become a sand or stone contractor so that you just give us an order.” And I’m like, “I’m sorry. I want to drive this monster.” It didn’t go well.

J: Why did you want to drive it?

E: For me, it would have been the biggest gender statement ever.

J: You were just being provocative!?

E: I love it! Just getting on their nerves. They were like, “We wake up at 9, sometimes we need to go to the sand pit at 1am or 2am. And if the truck is stuck in a very sandy soil, you have to get down and shovel it out and all of that.” And I’m like, “Well, if you train me, I am sure I would be able to do it.” And they said, “You see madam, I think you just have to find something more softer to do.” I got frustrated, obviously. [laughing] I got so frustrated, so I was like, “Esenam, you couldn’t get to drive the tipper truck, but you’re still good at driving, so why don’t you lower your ambition.” So there was an awakening for me to lower my ambition. So, I said, “If you didn’t get on the men’s nerves driving a tipper truck, why don’t you get on their nerves driving a taxi.” Why not? I don’t need anyone’s permission to drive a taxi. Neither do I need further training for driving a taxi, so I said, “Well, here goes the thing. You just have to settle on a taxi.” So, I started out, I was out of school…so fresh out of school. My previous business had been folded up to concentrate on my books at that time and my kids.

J: What was your previous business?

E: I was into batik tie-dye, and I ran that for 10 years. Do you know Labone quite well? There’s a cupcake shop there. That was my shop. That is where Antique’s Batik was located. So that business I operated until 2010 when I folded up to concentrate on my books and my kids, who were at that time were very, very closely spaced. So I said, “ok, I’ll settle down on a taxi, but I don’t have the funds to buy a taxi outright.” So I sort of chance upon an advert running on telly about a company that has already branded brand-new taxis and were looking for drivers to sell to them on credit…on hire-purchase. So the following day, I just hang my bag on my shoulders and walk into the office.

The site of Esenam’s tie-and-dye batik shop in Labone, now the cupcake shop I had visited the week before.  Again, the world is small.

J: What company was it?

E: That was TimeLink Company Limited. And I got to the office, and I was like, well, you see, I saw an ad running yesterday on telly. They said, yes, that’s our ad. So I said, I came to make inquiries because I want to buy one of your vehicles on credit. And he was like, madam, you know what? If you’re trying to buy it for probably your brother to drive or if you want to buy it and give it to another driver, unfortunately it doesn’t work like that in our company because it is the drivers we want to deal with one-on-one. So he told me to go back and bring whoever the driver is who you want to drive the vehicle and go through the process. You can’t take it and give it to a third party. It is we and the drivers. And I was like, um, hello sir. I am here to drive the taxi. He was like, madam, what did you say? I said, I ‘m here to pick up one of your taxis. Let me go through the process. I want to drive a taxi. You know, when you hit Ghanaian men with such statements, they are at a loss. And I sort of enjoy it until today, and I think we’re good friends. He will always remember and laugh his head off. Because he was like, wait a minute, you will drive a taxi!? And I said, yes. A taxi always has yellow paint? He said, yes. I said, that is exactly what I want to drive. So you mean you pick up passengers and they pay you? I said, yes! [laughing] So he said, you know what? Well, I can see your enthusiasm, so for me, I’ll do my job. Just fill out this form. So I went there with any ID or form of identification. I will do my job and push it through. I will present it, but I will have to respond to my supervisor. I will do it, but don’t raise your hopes that high. I said, you just put it in. And then I think three weeks later I had a call from the company. Another higher supervisor. And he said, you’ve been chosen to come for the interview. So I got there and two gentlemen, one was in shades indoors…very cool [laughing]. He said, oh, madam. They looked at the form, they looked at me. They said, I understand you want to drive a taxi. I said, yes sir. They said, why would you want to drive a taxi? They looked on my form. He said, you have a degree! So why do you still want to do this? Why don’t you want to look for a job. I said, for me, this is equally job, and I don’t see anything wrong with it. So they laughed it off, and they said ok, but wait a minute, back in the days in Takoradi, there was a woman who was driving a taxi and her husband was a white man. I don’t think they lacked anything financially, but the woman just loved to drive, so probably she just loved to drive. They forwarded the application to the manager himself. Apparently, two much drama was going on behind this because I was a woman. Because on the form I filled out, I provided two guarantors. They had one behind me to really interrogate my guarantors. “Are you sure this lady can drive this taxi!? Are you sure no one will kidnap her and hi-jack the car from her?” I mean, that is to the extent. They had so little faith in me to handle their investment. You know, this is a lot of money. Are you sure? My guarantors were like, just give her a try. We know Esenam. We know she is strong-headed. She is stubborn for all the good reasons. So if she says she will do it. One guarantor said, I told them, if Esenam says A, it is A; if she says B, it is B. And I had to go to the overall boss who is the director of the company because the whole idea freaked him to death. He was like, well, I understand you want one of our taxis, but I’m telling you, I want our money or I am taking our taxi back! And we don’t want any stories like today I am sick or tomorrow my children fell sick, blah blah blah. So I said, sir, just give me a try. It has been hilarious from the word go until today.

J: So, how did you learn to drive? Just as a myself driver?

E: Yeah, I started out as a myself driver, but it also has a story to it. I learned how to drive because I survived a car crash right here in Accra. And that thing happened 12th December 1998. And I had my license 25th March 1999. Immediately after I had gone to hospital and my wounds had healed, I realized I had a problem. I couldn’t ride in vehicles, in trotro. All of the sudden I had develop a phobia. If the driver speeds up and I am screaming, “eh, can you slow down!” And all the other passengers were like, “ah, what is it? He is not even speeding! Why are you shouting?” I realized I was embarrassing myself, honestly. So I said, Esenam, I think there is something you can do to overcome this fear. Why don’t you learn how to drive? Why don’t you learn to do the same thing that nearly took your life? So for me, I got into driving just to overcome my phobia. But going through theory at the driving school and then the practicals, I sort of fell in love with driving. I mean, that is the fact.

J: What do you like about it?

E: The coordination of all of your senses. I then realized that driving is an art and a science. Navigating your way around, able to observe, analyze, predict, and make informed decisions within split seconds. That is really, really a science and an art. I just fell in love with it.

J: At the driving school, did you have to learn to take care of the car and the change the oil, and the tires.

E: Changing of oil, no, but changing of tires, we were taught. How to detect from the color of the smoke coming out of your exhaust if something is really wrong and all that. Checking up on your water gauge, your oil, your engine oil…all those were taught.

J: So then did you start driving your own car?

E: I learned how to drive without even knowing when I would own my own car. No clue as to whether I would ever be able to afford a vehicle. But fortunately I was able to gather up some coins to an old Opel car…a sedan…in 2000. And then coupled with the business I was running, we would go for bazaars or fair and I would produce the batik fabrics, but other finishers were located all around Accra. So someone making the shirts was probably in Onibi, someone making my bags and water bottle carriers was somewhere near Kaneshie, someone is in Tudu, someone is in Nima. So I realized I was almost driving around Accra collecting bits and pieces. Someone was in Weija on the Kasoa Road. So I’ll say basically, that’s how I started, driving my own rickety car and having all of the experience that comes with it.

J: What kinds of things did you notice about driving your own car? Having just driven myself for the first time, having ridden in trotros for a long time before that, I wondered what kinds of things you noticed and what kinds of challenges you found in driving your own car?

E: That is with other motorists. The challenge is always with other motorists. You are a woman. They think we drive too much by the book. And that we should be able to cut corners. “Why are you leaving that gap!? Move forward!” For them, it’s too much of a gap. And probably someone steps on the zebra crossing and you make an attempt to stop, and they say, “Why are you stopping!? Go! Go! Go!” But for me, I have learned, immediately if someone steps on the zebra crossing, I must check whether it is safe for me to stop. Whatever the case, I must make an attempt to stop. They wouldn’t.

J: It’s funny because when I was driving, they said that women were the worst, not that they wouldn’t leave space but they would push forward always into the traffic and they wouldn’t let you in if you’re trying to turn. That’s what people keep telling me.

E: Did you see that? [laughing]

J: A little bit. I did see that with some women for sure, but it’s hard to tell. That’s just how people drive in Accra. Everyone is always pushing in.

E: Yeah, I guess, it’s like survival of the fittest sort of do that to inject fear in the other motorists so that they give you the space. But I think you might be right on women. Women sort of want things to be done right, but honestly, our male motorists here are terrible! And as I said, we want to do things the proper way. But the men would push us. So at a time, you find out that women wouldn’t budge or let someone cut through if they don’t show some…I mean, if you sort of push yourself in, they will be adamant! [laughing] But if you give them some signals as in, “may I join,” then they will let you. For us, you must be polite! I guess it all comes with that sociologically women would want people to earn their respect. And it has been a chauvinistic society, so it can be that you can speak to me a certain way at home or want me to follow the hierarchy thing, but look, this driving on the road…you don’t own me. I also have my voice. You do it my way or you spark. For me, that’s how I see you.

J: It’s like on the road, everybody’s equal.

E: Respect my space, and I’ll respect your space.

J: Drivers would tell me that women…the other thing that they thought that made women not serious drivers was

E: I like the term! Not serious drivers!

J: Yes, not serious drivers. Not professionals. It was that they did not know how to take care of the car and how to fix things if there was a mechanical drivers. Older drivers—not drivers now but older drivers—used to know how to repair their cars. They would have to go into the rural areas where there were not mechanics, so they had to know how to take care of things themselves. They would say that all myself drivers, but especially women, if there was an accident or someone stopped quickly, they would not know how to react. Do you think that’s true or is it an exaggeration?

E: It is an exaggeration. Women would not want to fidget with the mechanical stuff. Even for me, as a professional driver, sections of my vehicle, I don’t touch. The engine, the electrical wiring, I don’t touch because I do know that I have not vested myself in acquiring knowledge, so I wouldn’t tamper with anything that would blow my car in flames the next second. But I will change my tires. When bolts are coming off, I will want to tighten them myself. Minor, minor things.

J: You leave it to the professionals.

E: Yes, to do the hard-core work. Because now, most cars are quite electrical, and they have this central point system and anyone with a diagnostic machine can know what is wrong with it. So why I would I mess with it anyway. The dashboard is talking to me. If your brake fluid is going down, the dashboard will tell you and you top it up! I top up all of my fluids. They have this wiring…it looks like a chain…to unlock the bolt that holds the oil…I don’t have it, so I wouldn’t even try changing my own oil. So if the myself drivers, the women, and of course, look, let’s argue it from this case. Most of the myself women are either the employees who are running to work or running back home. They don’t want to get dirty with their nice suits and their heels. So if someone’s around to change their tire for a few cedis, why not? Haven’t they heard of division of labor!? Tell them! [laughing]

J: So, where did you get this idea to promote your business in the way that you have? How did that come about?

E: I started very humbly but I had a very big picture in mind. I started with the notion that, should commuters be given a choice to choose between….for me it was a learning experience; I was curious and very thought-provoking in my actions…should commuters be given a choice between female-driven taxis…even one…and male driven taxi service, which one would they choose? So I just set out to test that. Aside making the money for myself and making a living. So after trying about three unions and they wouldn’t take me. I tried three unions…the various taxi ranks…I tried one opposite the immigration service, I have tried one at Marina Mall, I tried one also at Accra Mall. They wouldn’t take me because I am a woman. And one guy at Marina Mall said, you’re coming to take all of our customers! You come for all of our customers! And I was like, well, if the simple common taxi driver sees me as a force to reckon with, then there is a future for this taxi. Why I am telling you this story is that I had a picture of how my business would look like. I didn’t want to end up picking just anyone. But I needed to start from somewhere, anywhere, to be known. I didn’t want to end up being the regular taxi driver that you wouldn’t see or know of. So I went back to Marina Mall taxi rank and said, you know what? You wouldn’t accept me in your union officially ,but why don’t we strike this deal. Would you mind if I just hang around. I wouldn’t join your union officially, but I will just hang around. Should clients come and they offer a fare that you think is not comfortable for you, can you toss back your rejected offers to me. And they were like, oh, you want our rejects!? That means you’re not going to get real clients. We will give you what we don’t like. I said, yes, that is exactly what I want. Give me what you don’t like…your rejects. And they were like, fine! By then I had gone to contact the University of Ghana taxi rank and they said yes. Amazingly they said yes. Probably because most of the drivers there are equally workers of the non-academic staff. So they work in various sectors. And I guess with a level of education, they are much more open-minded. Even though at least I wouldn’t say they all agree, but the majority of them say why not? Take her. Women are doing all kinds of stuff, so why not a taxi service. So they had taken me back based on the clientele and the way I want my business to grow, I would go to Marina Mall every weekend because weekends are when everybody comes out. You have the expatriates and everybody, the rich, the elites. So, I promoted myself to be their PRO. I pitched myself right there at the entrance down there where people come out and they are struggling with their bags and everything. So instead of their way of offering to help, “Oh do you need help!?” Instead I was like, “well, good afternoon, sir. Good afternoon, m’am. Do you need a taxi.” So they would say, “Oh I have my car. It’s parked right down there.” “Oh, I don’t mind. I will just help you to your car.” “Oh that’s ok,” sort of thing. Or they say, “Oh yes, I need a taxi.” And I would say, “Well, I’m not the one in line. I will talk to you later. But I don’t mind helping you with your bags to the next taxi driver in line.” And I was armed with call cards. So whilst I’m walking down with them, I’ve already slipped my call card to them and said, “madam, you know what? Just keep this card. You might never know…you just don’t know. You might need my services. And when you call me, I’m coming right over to where you are. Anytime, anywhere.” And I kept doing that every weekend. One day, I met some people…they were actually a couple…apparently the man worked for the Canadian High Commission, so he had gone to the guys and they said, from Marina Mall to Accra Ridge, “we’ve been taking 10 Ghana cedis in those days.” And the guy said, “Oh, I just came from home to this place for 8 cedis, so if you want 8 cedis…” And trust me, they just yelled, “Eh, come, come, come! He is going to Ridge for 8 Ghana cedis, are you interested?” I said, “why not? I will!” And so they said, “oh, it’s a woman!” I said, “yes sir, good afternoon.” And he responded. I helped him to the car and they seated themselves and they said, “oh what a clean car!” And I smiled and he said, “oh, you know what? For the price…the fare that the boys are charging…they are charging 10. I would rather give it to you than give it to them.” He ended up paying me the 10 Ghana cedis. He said, “do you mind if I share your contact details?” Because I had given him my card. “Do you mind if I share your contact details with my colleagues at work?” I said, “I don’t mind at all! Honestly, if you want more cards, I can give you more cards.” He said, “I have been here for a student for one year, and I came back down as a full staff for the Canadian High Commission, and I think we are new and I’ll feel much more comfortable and safe knowing that my wife can call you because she is new, and she doesn’t know her way around. So you can offer that sort of service. When she needs to go shopping, and I am at work, I am so much at peace that she is in good hands.” He sort of told everyone. Calls started coming. “Are you the female taxi driver? Well, my colleague Michael said….” And it didn’t just end there. They sort of transferred me to the British High Commission because the expatriate community is very neat and closed. So from the British High Commission, I went to the Netherlands Embassy and all other international organizations. And that is how. I was like, wow, finally! I got to see this taxi where I really wanted it. So that’s how it all started. This is where I wanted to see myself, and I’m right there. Right there, not driving randomly and picking up random passengers but having people book for the service days before the day.

J: So it’s not a typical taxi? It’s like a charter service more? It’s not dropping or roaming car?

E: No. I book people for the whole week. This one is from academia. He is coming from Yale and I am sure that he is coming for research or something of that sort. So we are in July but my first few weeks in August are already booked. And this is exactly how I wanted my taxi business.   Of course, I knew my gender would be in my favor, definitely. If you do unusual things, you attract unusual attention. So this is exactly how I wanted Miss Taxi. Providing on-the-hour service.

J: Did you brand it Miss Taxi from the beginning?

E: Definitely from the beginning.

J: Did you have social media from the beginning or did you have that later?

E: Later.


J: What inspired you to do that?

E: People would sort of help to tell my story. Individuals wanted to promote me. Most of the clients are coming from outside Ghana, and they would want to… So it started by me having my e-card…a complimentary card but electronic…so I could share it with people. So I had this client called Kate Murphy. She now, I would say she is my unofficial PRO. She brings in the cards from the US. All of my call cards now, she takes care of it. And she started the Facebook page. And then she said, no! Whether you like it or not…you’ve been postponing and procrastinating this Facebook page, but I have done it and you must start reading it.

Esenam’s clients often post about their experiences on social media sites, including Trotro Diaries and her own Miss Taxi Ghana site.

J: Maybe you need an app so that people can book your things online and then it would go directly to your phone?

E: Well said! It has been our dream. But our issue now is that we need to scale with that app. We can’t just have the one taxi and have the app running.

J: I think that maybe lots of people would pay for that app. I mean, even if you got other women to be taxi drivers and add them or whether you tried to sell the app to other companies, I think people would buy it. Because there are all these companies and you have to call them. It’s hard to know. Whereas if they were all in one place and there were reviews. Like in the US, there is something like Yelp that has reviews for restaurants and shops and things and sometimes you can book a reservation directly on it. So if you read the reviews and you like it, you can book the reservation directly on the app itself.

E: I think so. Because we have several very diplomatic taxi cab services and companies that we could sell to. Because Accra Cab Services…we have Let Drive… And aside from these taxi services, there are also these car rental companies. That might be worth it rather than trying to expand at all costs.

J: So, have you faced any challenges? You said your gender was an asset, but did it also cause challenges?

E: Challenges!? It’s a bane. Equally an asset and a bane. Number one, your fellow motorists. And even acceptance. Legon taxi rank took me, but you know, you can feel the chemistry. Not all of them wanted me there. So I will keep to myself when I’m loaded and I go inside campus and I come back. I’m seated in my taxi. I don’t get down. I mean, to them, it didn’t really click. I mean, whatever they will be talking about, it’s all about women. Did you see the color of their panties? The size of their bra? That sort of thing. I’m like, “ugh. They’re not my class!” And I would always keep to myself. But you could feel the chemistry. A handful of the drivers would still…I think they still felt it wasn’t my space.

J: Did you find that passengers…was there a different attitude between passengers and drivers?

E: Yes, I was coming to that. First, it was my fellow drivers. Some were very cooperative. Some were not. And then other motorists. It’s like they’ve seen me on the road and they wake up. They need to give themselves a slap and they wake up. A woman driving a taxi!? So they want to play smart with me. They are crossing and behaving very unprofessionally, just because I’m a woman. But I sort of think I wouldn’t take that too much of a victim because I’ve already experienced it driving my private car. It’s like the norm. Because they consider us never professionals, we can never drive, we are never brave to drive. That sort of thing. So it sort of transcended…with the taxi cab there is no difference [from the private car]. And then the police. Some see me and they are like, “Wow! A woman! Wow!” Probably I will be on my way to Cape Coast or Kumasi and they will say, “where are you coming from?” And I will say, “Accra.” And they will say, “all the way from Accra!? Wow!” Probably they intended to check my drivers’ license but they forget about it and they chat and chat and say go, go, go. But some say, “Can I see…” You know, I don’t know. I wish I was in their mind. But from a little bit from psychology, if I should be able to analyze…it’s like what I do behind them. Can’t you find anything? “Ok, stop!” And then I pull over. “Your license.” And I show it to them. “Your trafficator. Can you indicate. I want to check whether your lights are working.” I will indicate. “Okay, can I see your triangle?” And then I get down. First they will ask me, “Can you please get down and open your trunk?” I get down and open it. “Can I see your triangle? Can I see your fire extinguisher?” They just like marking it with me to find a place to nail me so much. And they do all that and they still can’t find anything. “Go!” Being unbiased, I will say some of them will be professional. Others will not. When you find a policeman flagging you down and you pull over and he says, “can you please step out?” So I step out and he says, “Oh that is all that I wanted to see. I just wanted to see make sure that you are a woman…” It happens very often. They will deliberately ask me to step out to open my trunk just to see that I am a woman. You know, I cut my hair short, so when I’m seated…probably that is why I love to wear these earrings because I want you to know that I am a woman. So probably they are not sure. “Get down and let’s see.” And they see the boobs and they see the curved hips and, “ok, she’s a woman.”   Can you imagine!?

J: So, I tend to ask drivers in general about: what do you think are the biggest challenges that face the transport system in Accra or in Ghana generally now?

E: It all starts with we not having a reliable state transport system. So then, it has been taken over by private people like I am with little resources. So we have all of these car owners but the network cannot accommodate the numbers. Even when you join the road, it’s not in the best shape. So then it takes a toll on your margins because your car will be ripped up frequently. You will spend more maintaining it. It as though transport could be seen as the literal wheels of development, but it doesn’t look like it is considered that by the forces that are in power. Round pegs, square holes. Square pegs in round holes.

J: Maybe they should have you as Minister of Transport? Maybe that’s the long-term goal?

E: Oh, no, not for a million pounds per month! I would be so stringent. They would ask for my blood! Transport hasn’t gotten the needed attention it deserves.

J: So the investment’s not there?

E: I would say the investments are there, but it is just uncoordinated. Because when it falls into the hands of the private sector and not much regulation is attached to it, then we have all of the indiscipline we have here. The regulations are not enforced. We have people who think pressing down pedals is all driving is about. We have people who can’t read and write driving? Then you can’t tell me you are on top of your game.

J: Why is reading and writing important?

E: You need to be able to read the road signs and be able to read and interpret them. There is the argument that not everyone will end up having formal education. But even with those who have not had formal education… have we tailored the education given to drivers to fit them? Everything in education is in English. Have we tried to impart knowledge in local languages to fit the drivers?

J: Would they know how to read and write in Twi?

E: They will be able to read it because most of them read their Bibles.

J: A lot of drivers told me that they want schools set up at the lorry parks, so that they can learn how to read and write and improve themselves a little bit. Because they want to know. But some of them didn’t even finish primary schools.

E: [talking about national education policy for drivers…] They should bring the education to them!

J: They don’t talk to the drivers. If they just talked to them they would see this.

E: That is where you have people coming up with policies sitting in their bathrooms and bedrooms and then forcing it down the throats of the supposed beneficiaries. A good example would be the Walker Bush Highway. Where they build the overhead…that was someone creating policy in their bathroom without going and seeing how the people use it and where the people congregate. So you have the people crossing at a section and then the walkover 200 meters away or probably 500 meters away.

J: Well, are there things about the system that you think are beneficial? That are good or create opportunities?

E: The only system I know is this. I don’t think they set out to make the system like this. It’s only that they could not manage it that the private sector has taken over. It is their failure that brought in the private sector.

What stands out from Esenam’s narrative is her intentional provocation.  Driving, for her, was part of a project of intellectual and social engagement as well as an economic enterprise.  The complex motivations that inspires her driving work also gives her a unique perspective on the country’s public transport sector.  For some, Esenam’s choice to pursue motor transport work is perplexing – she has a Master’s degree after all!  On the one hand, her narrative fits into a larger narrative of unemployment in which highly educated people are unable to find suitable jobs.  But Esenam’s story also defies these narratives.  Her success is in part a testament to the changing landscape of commercial motor transport in the city.  But it is also a reflection of her own unique experiences, characteristics, and interests, which inform a business that is simultaneously an innovative, technologically-engaged transport company and a socially-engaged feminist provocation.  Esenam hopes to further her education (I’m convinced she would be an amazing anthropologist) and expand her business.  If you’re able to help her with either of those, reach out.

Esenam and I post-interview on Oxford Street, Osu, Accra
In the meantime, if you need a driver and you want her contact info, let us know!

Some of the services that Esenam offers



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