25 Jul Announcing the Ashesi Venture Incubator Fellows
For students with a strong passion for entrepreneurship, Ashesi University is like a bootcamp for obtaining entrepreneurial skills. Ashesi’s mission is to educate ethical entrepreneurial leaders. Ashesi is continuing to support students’ a journey through the Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI) by closing the loop in entrepreneurship training, per the mission of the university, by allowing graduating students to pursue entrepreneurship as a career alternative.
Founded in collaboration with MIT D-Lab, the AVI, a program of NEXTi2i, is a one-year incubation experience for recent graduates and alumni. What makes this program unique is that entrepreneurs are expected to integrate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their business models so they can “do good while doing well”. The expected outcome of the incubator is to produce a new generation of hybrid business models that empowers entrepreneurs to play an important role in generating economic returns while ensuring social impact, irrespective of the business they are in. The purpose of the collaboration between these two institutions is to help emerging entrepreneurs.
“The design of the incubator is unique, as it requires its fellows to commit to impactful and thoughtful research, the type that brings great connectivity to the person whose problem they wish to solve,” says Jewel Thompson, AVI Incubator Manager.The recruitment process started with a call for applications from February 25 to March 25 2019. Several applications were received and after rounds of interviews and assessments, 12 applicants were selected as fellows and 5 were selected as associates.
Audrey Marigold S-Darko ‘19 established Sabon Sake to develop carbon- negative fertilizer for farmers and greenhouses derived from local organic farm waste while on a quest to improve food and financial security with mitigating farm waste emissions. Her dream is to empower farming communities by adding value to their abandoned waste.
Nature Akoto ‘17 had the vision to produce high quality and affordable lean pork for pork lovers in Ghana and beyond. Nature manages a piggery in Agbledomi, a suburb of Anloga in the Volta Region and has a goal to start a new commercial pig farm that would produce at least 1000 pigs in a year within the first five years of operations.
Being a victim of flooding that happened as a result of gutters choked with heaps of plastic waste, Comfort Appiah ‘19 became restless about the issue of plastic waste pollution in Ghana and set out to help save the many lives and property that are lost every year in Ghana due to this problem. Comfort started SHeK iMaginations, an eco-friendly fashion house that produces quality and aesthetically appealing bags from plastic bottles. She aims to help people look good and feel good for saving the environment by wearing her fashion trendy recycled plastic bottle bags
Ezekiel Senye Hormeku ‘19 is the CEO of Tailored Hands, a company that produces luxury fashion garments with the aim of popularizing the traditional African Kaftan as a staple look (equivalent to the business suit) in everyday business-wear.
Dzifa Anagblah ‘19, founder of Bloom Bags loves to solve complex problems through creative and innovative means. Her business, Bloom Bags and Luggage not only makes beautiful personal use bags but also, aims to make a difference in Ghana through continuous job creation, women empowerment, and provision of personal development opportunities.
David Damoah Boanuh ‘19 is a co-founder and Film Director at Beautiful Stories Studios. His journey into filmmaking was birthed from an interest in travel and lifestyle filmmaking but slowly grew into documentaries and narrative films (movie making). He strongly believes that the mitigation of the “African Single Story” is largely dependent on a still budding African film industry. To contribute to this, he co-founded Beautiful Stories with a goal of representing Africa in the right light.
Derick Omari ‘18 founded Tech Era, a social enterprise that uses technology & capacity building programs to provide access to inclusive education and employment for persons with disabilities in order to bridge inequalities in education and employment for persons with disabilities. Derick is a social entrepreneur who works in education, technology, social entrepreneurship, and the disability field.
Using artificial intelligence and IoT powered products, Kelvin Degbotse ‘19 solves problems in communities through his data-driven company Obsessive Innovations. Obsessive Innovations’ mission is to advance social justice using machine intelligence to understand and close gaps in areas of social inequality.
Kevin Blankson ’19, Founder of Swoove, is working to build a robust logistics network that spans the continent of Africa. Logistics because many businesses are heavily affected by the constraints of moving goods from one place to another. Once this is sorted out businesses and individuals will be able to focus on their daily operations
Grace Amponsah ‘16 is the Founder and Executive Director of Bowney Initiative, a non- profit organization whose mission is to empower under-resourced adolescent girls so they can achieve their education and career goals. She does this by creating partnerships and donor opportunities to advance opportunities for girls in the program.
Jennifer Alista Panashe ‘19, founder of Colourful Plastics, developed a technology that recycles plastic waste to enhance asphalt for road construction purposes. She is an entrepreneurial mechanical engineer with a burning desire for environmental and sustainable development in Africa.
Emmanuel Asaam ‘14 is the Founder & Team Lead for Gamma Energie Limited. Emmanuel began his research on energy, poverty, and sustainability in 2015, which led to the creation of Gamma Energie. Gamma recycles agro-forestry waste into eco-friendly, clean bio-fuels used for cooking and heating thereby supporting the fight against climate change.
The one-year program is customized for each fellow and designed to help them to develop their entrepreneurial capabilities and domain expertise. AVI offers a robust professional development, business coaching from local and global business leaders, business development sessions, technical assistance, support services as well as financial stipends for the entrepreneurs. At the end of one-year, expectations are that some of the fellows would have raised funds while others would have established operations more firmly and the rest would have tested their assumptions well enough to launch successful businesses.
The diverse sectors represented makes this group an exciting cohort to follow. More exciting is the fact that these entrepreneurs create employment not only for themselves but for others as well. This acts as an important contribution to an economy such as Ghana where after completing national service only 10-20 % of graduates get formal jobs. Such an opportunity allows them to not only develop their businesses with structured guardrails within the incubator to serve as guides but it also allows them to better integrate into the economic system and assist in stimulating economic growth and job creation in Ghana.