18 May A Consultancy for Private Owned Basic Schools in Ghana’s Lower-Middle-Income Communities
To join the Ashesi Venture Incubator, prospective fellows are required to demonstrate their ability as well as their commitment to contributing towards social impact, solving key problems faced by members of various Ghanaian communities. 2020 AVI fellow Nana Ama Boa Amponsem, a graduate of Ashesi University, sought to tackle education inequality by setting up her consultancy business.
Her motivation to provide advisory in education management came from her knowledge, proven by research, that private school enrollment in basic schools currently represents nearly 30% of all enrollment in basic education. And that within the private education sector, enrollment rates in primary education have more than tripled since 1991, and by 2014, 23% of primary school students were educated in private schools. In spite of significant government investments in the public education system, high levels of migration, an undersupply of public education services and the pursuit of quality basic education by parents and guardians, has led to private schools springing up to address the ever-increasing demand for quality education.
Nana Ama launched Think Education Ghana in response to this demand to support and empower privately-owned basic schools, primarily in Ghana’s lower-middle-income communities. TEG encourages these schools to create, innovate and implement systems and conditions to support effective school management, improve their operational efficiency and develop programs that enable students to thrive. This is carried out by providing advisory services in key areas, such as school leadership and governance, strategic planning and management, business planning, financial accounting, organisational and school culture, effective teaching, measurement and development of student-learning and strong community relationships.
As a consultancy/ advisory company, the services of Think Education Ghana are intended to be paid for, whether directly or indirectly by customers/ stakeholders. The primary goal and efforts of TEG are geared towards expanding access to quality and holistic education in Ghana, thereby helping to reduce education inequality.
Nana Ama started off her career in education as a faculty intern at Ashesi for Leadership as Service and Organisational Behaviour, then progressing to her role as the programme coordinator for Kaya ChildCare, a start-up social enterprise set out to provide early childhood development and serve as a safe day space for 1 to 5-year-old children of female head porters (Kayayoo) in the open markets of Madina, Accra.
According to the AVI fellow, she felt compelled to participate in the incubator because she was “eager and excited to grow and expand” her “social enterprise business interest” and was confident that the AVI would offer a “challenging and inspiring atmosphere to develop the needed strategies and ideas” to make Think Education Ghana “a truly sustainable and successful venture”. Nana Ama also appreciated the “access” to a resourceful “network of mentors, coaches and industry experts” that would come with being an AVI fellow. Even “outside the formal boundaries of the incubation program”, she felt keen to meet like minded entrepreneurs and engage with them, possibly resulting in the sparking of new ideas as she developed her social enterprise.
The AVI designed a mentorship programme to provide a support group and targeted technical assistance to its fellows in critical areas within their business in an attempt to help them meet their objectives for economic viability and social impact. Annatu Abdulai, an Ashesi alumna and the current Director of Acceleration at the management consultancy firm Growth Mosaic stepped forward to be Nana Ama’s assigned mentor.
According to Annatu, “several factors motivated” her to “sign up as a mentor”, including the “ThinkEducation team, concept and location” in addition to her “professional experience and the opportunity to give back” to her “communities”. She was approached by Nana Ama via the AVI team to be her mentor after she led a session with her cohort on hybrid business models, taking on the opportunity “without hesitation” because she believes that ThinkEducation has a “great concept which could make a lot of impact”. Annatu recalls being impressed by Nana Ama’s “willingness to learn”, which came across in her participation during the previously mentioned session. The mentor felt that she was a suitable fit not only for her mentee but also her mentee’s business venture. And her familiarity with the sector, working for Growth Mosaic who have conducted research on low cost private schools in the country as well as her insights on how to effectively manage a basic private school in Ghana, made her confident that their collaboration would be a successful one. Growth Mosaic’s primary aim is to identify early-stage impact businesses, accelerate them to become investment-ready and match them with the best investors. In essence, reducing the execution risks and improving the viability of their clients as investible opportunities.
“ThinkEducation is piloting in Tamale, which is my hometown. The AVI mentoring platform provides an opportunity to give back to my home community and the Ashesi community as an alumna in a way that would have a lot of value, especially due to my consulting background.” Annatu shared.
On the nature of her collaboration with Nana Ama, she noted that it is “going well” and that the fellow has a “ good work ethic” which makes her easy to work with.