When Samantha Azu ’22 opened a drive-in movie theater in her native Ghana, potential customers didn’t quite know what to make of it. Drive-ins, once ubiquitous in the United States, are not known in Ghana.
“People didn’t understand how they could watch a movie from their car. They had a lot of questions,” Azu says. “We definitely had to educate people by our marketing campaign. Once people understand it, they think, ‘This is so cool.’ ”
Located in Ghana’s capital city of Accra, the Hype.Flix Drive-In Cinema has proven popular. In April, Azu and her venture were named the undergraduate winner in Babson’s B.E.T.A. (Babson Entrepreneurial Thought & Action®) Challenge. Presented by the College’s Arthur M. Blank Center for Entrepreneurship, the prestigious annual competition awarded more than $275,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to Babson ventures.
Azu plans to use her prize money to upgrade the drive-in’s projector, as well as create a seating area for customers who want to attend the drive-in but don’t have cars. “Winning the B.E.T.A. Challenge was a godsend,” she says. “It finally gave me the opportunity to do things I have been thinking about.”
Azu has long been a film fanatic and often likes to go to a movie theater by herself so as not to be distracted from what’s playing on the screen. “Movies are a great escape from reality,” she says.
Azu established the drive-in in October 2020, figuring that people might be missing movie theaters and other inside activities during the pandemic. In addition to watching the latest films, visitors to the drive-in can partake of a wide-ranging menu, featuring not only standard movie theater fare such as popcorn and pizza but also pork chops, rice and beans, and fried yams.
After graduation, Azu began work as a consultant in New York City, but she has a team in place to help her run the drive-in. She also plans to return home often. In addition to developing the drive-in, she actually has another initiative she’s working on: raising funds to create a library in a rural Ghanaian community.
“People didn’t understand how they could watch a movie from their car. … We definitely had to educate people by our marketing campaign. Once people understand it, they think, ‘This is so cool.’ ”
Samantha Azu ’22
That library, made out of a refurbished shipping container, was a senior project Azu began as one of the Natalie Taylor Scholars, a group of Babson students committed to making positive social change. Libraries aren’t common in Ghana, particularly in rural parts of the country. “It is sad that people don’t have access to simple resources,” she says.
The container already has been placed in its permanent home next to a school, and Azu is now working on cleaning it, setting up bookshelves, and buying books. The library also will have a computer, something Ghanaian students don’t always have access to.
Azu hopes the library will serve as a place of learning and a safe space for children to be while their parents are working at farms or markets.
She also hopes the creation of the library spurs others to make a difference in their communities. “I hope it serves as an inspiration to people,” Azu says.
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