By Ahmad Adu Nasir (YES 2008-2009, Ghana, hosted by AYA/AIFS in Fort Wayne, IN)
Ten years ago, I was privileged to be an exchange student on the YES program. I learned a lot during my year in Fort Wayne, Indiana, but what really impacted me most was volunteering. Volunteering with the Salvation Army and a food bank in my host community was an eye opener to the power of community service. I was fortunate to have not one, but two caring host families during my exchange year – the Buzzards and the Rowlands – and they ensured I was able to connect with and have transportation to the organizations at which I volunteered.
The exposure to volunteerism during my exchange year inspired me to undertake several projects in my community in Ghana upon my return. I have implemented projects to promote peaceful elections and youth symposiums on anti-corruption. Coordinating these projects and being a team leader led me to earning the presidency of the YES Alumni Association in Ghana.
The ultimate prosperity of every nation is dependent on the ability of its citizens to be economically sound and self-sufficient. In 2018, my team and I applied for and received YES alumni grant funding to conduct Entrepreneurship: Road to Self-Sustenance and Self-Development. We partnered with The Pitch Hub Ghana, an organization dedicated to empowering young entrepreneurs, to train 15 young women in the art of writing proposals, pitching business ideas, and mentoring. Inspired by our passion for women’s empowerment and United Nation’s SDG #1 (reducing poverty), #5 (gender equality), and #10 (reducing inequality), our team aimed to equip these bright young women with the skills needed to take up leadership and entrepreneurial roles, help level the professional playing field between men and women, and change the plight of their local communities.
The program lasted for one month and trained the women in various entrepreneurial sectors, including agriculture, technology, food and hospitality, fashion, music, and the arts. Topics included business structure and development, pitching and value proposition, creative business models, business case studies, financial models, branding, and partnerships.
I would like to thank the U.S. Department of State, American Councils for International Education, and AFS Ghana for the grant funding and project support. This project would not have been possible without them.
I would like to thank our partners at The Pitch Hub and my team members who played a crucial role in making this project a success. I would like to give special thanks to our experienced trainers, including Price Attipoe, CEO of NewMax Group; Nana Opoku Agyeman-Prempeh, Co-founder of Asoriba app; Hannah Acquah, CEO of TKC Africa; Richmond Engel Bennah, Brand Specialist and Content Developer; and Gloria Owusu-Boama, Programs Director for Pitch Hub Ghana.
We plan to replicate this training in the northern region of Ghana in 2019 with grants being sourced from different organizational partners.