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A Journey Towards Social Entrepreneurship

Kofi Yeboah is a student at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, in the social sciences, a blogger who often writes for Global Voices. Recently he attended a summer course for young innovators, and wrote to us about his experiences.

My pursuit to make a difference through community development led me to search for a social entrepreneurship training program. I was searching for a school that had a different model of education, with a realistic attitude. When I chanced upon the Amani Institute, I knew that was the school for me.  The Amani Institute is a school specialised in training social entrepreneurs across the globe. The two people behind the establishment of this institute are Roshan Paul and Ilaina Rabbat (who founded an NGO at only 15).  Roshan said,

The idea of having a school that will groom existing and aspiring social entrepreneurs came into mind because there was none like that we could find, and the ones that tried too didn't have the correct style of teaching…

Without a second thought I applied to be part of this institute and to learn how to be a social entrepreneur. I was selected to be part of a group of young innovators from 14 countries for training in Nairobi, Kenya. These students, from different continents, provide a global networking platform for us, and a global perspective to help solve similar social challenges.

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Amani Institute classmates

The Amani Experience

The learning experience at the Amani Institute is very special: it focuses on preparing next-generation talent to tackle global challenges by filling the gap between university and the workforce through a new approach to higher education. The inclusion of fun and learning at the same time is one powerful tool Amani uses to teach its students.

The best response to a world of problems is increasing the number of problem solvers capable of addressing them. To build a world without boundaries, we must help next generation leaders understand how to think and act globally. The Amani Institute experience comprises three interlocking streams of activity: experiential learning through relevant field placements, professional skill-building to learn core skills of the future practitioner, and a personal growth journey which helps the student reflect on their own leadership path and integrate both field experience and skill-building into a coherent whole picture. (Amani Institute, Story book)

Courses I took included “Social Innovation”, “Social Entrepreneurship” and “Inner Journey”. We discussed relevant topics which are currently happening in the world and new ways to approaching such issues. Professionals and experts were invited every week to lecture and equip us with practical skills, knowledge, and networks required to solve social challenges. The approach to learning focuses on high participation from students rather than cramming theories. We watched TEDx talks relating to the topic been taught that day, and we shared our own views. The model used for teaching helps to fill gaps in the educational system, with hands-on experience where students work with organisations to practice what has been taught in class. Field trips were organised for us to experience the real situations around us, to help learn in diverse settings.

This model of education that I have always been advocating for and been blogging about the fact that our education system [in Ghana] needs to be overhauled, and this is exactly what Amani Institute is spearheading.

Our work

As part of the training we created a consulting project for Africa Community Development Media Foundation (ACDM), by helping them to set up a pilot television station called Safari Africa TV, a media platform that focuses on community and development-oriented programming reflecting issues in East Africa and the Global Community.

We helped ACDM to restructure their business model to be more financially sustainable, worked with them to build a social media presence for Safari Africa TV, and produced the first pilot programme which focused on how  youth in informal settlements are using innovative ways to solve their own social problems. We were joined by five guests from Ghana, Brasil, US, Kenya and India. I was very excited to see the birth of this TV project.

Working with people from around the world:

Some of my classmates included Ruy Lopes de Barros from AIESEC (Brazil), Katie Wells from Davidson College (US), Ami Waltham, a British-Nepali student from New College of FloridaJabari Smith, a motivational speaker (US), and Gigi Kilcher, the Programme Associate and social Media Manager at the Amani Institute. I got the opportunity to study at Amani Institute because of Gigi, who I met through social media, the most powerful tool to get connected in the world.

What's next…

I was inspired by the training I received from Amani Institute and this helped me to work on an idea I have long envisioned. As part of the training, we were asked to pitch our ideas and assigned to teams to work on the idea. The idea I pitched is called the African Youth Development Fund (AFDF)This is a project I will going to work on with my team to make it a reality, for as a continent we need to build our human capital and the support needs to come from us Africans!

My pitch:

African Youth Development Fund (AFDF) is an organisation that will provide funding (travel, study, and living funds) for youth in Africa (starting with Ghana) to be trained abroad (across Africa or outside Africa) in skills that they cannot acquire in their country. We realised that the youth in Ghana do not have the required job skills to be employed and also to create their own jobs. The youth also lack a global way of thinking, global knowledge on how local challenges have been addressed in other countries, and many cannot acquire these skills because they cannot finance the cost of their training. We are there, building a rich human capital for Ghana and Africa by supporting  youth to attend these trainings and come back to Ghana and Africa to work and create jobs.

 

If there is any institution that I will confidently recommend to learn about social entrepreneurship from, it would be The Amani Institute.

You can follow Kofi on his blog and on twitter @kofiemeritus.

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