Ashesi Venture Incubator Donates to Kayayei Girls At Madina

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some businesses to retool – some  to repurpose their assets and others to explore new markets. The Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI) has responded by supporting its fellows’ ventures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their businesses. Oneresponse taken is the AVI COVID-19 Relief Impact Project, which was launched to empower our fellows to make an impact in the communities they serve and the stakeholder communities of Ashesi University with existing and modified solutions they can retool to survive the current business situation. The project also provides an opportunity for the AVI ventures to build their brand awareness and gain experience in project development and implementation and data collection. We will like to share with you some of the COVID-19 relief solutions designed and implemented by the ventures in collaboration with AVI for the communities identified.

One of the project events was implemented on Saturday 15th August this year by Teni Agana, founder of Loozele Initiative and Comfort Appiah, CEO of Eco fashn who jointly provided PPEs, hygiene products, and medical education on the dynamics of the coronavirus to the “Kayayei” community at Madina Zongo, Accra. Loozele Initiative is an educational program that supports  youth in the northern regions of Ghana by empowering them to identify entrepreneurial opportunities and providing educational support to “Kayayei” girls who want to continue their education. EcoFashion produces artistic bags from upcycled material. After performing research on the WHOs procedure for producing Safe Nose masks and obtaining approval from the FDA, Eco Fashn channeled its resources to the production of Safe Nose covers that were distributed to the Kayayei community with other products.

Some staff of the AVI pose for a picture with the Kayayei girls.

In an interview with one of the AVI entrepreneurs Comfort Appiah shared that, “as a company, we have already been part of the fight against the spread of the virus. Looking at the nature of the work of the Kaya girls and the fact that some of them are in a less privileged position, we saw the need to join efforts with Loozele Initiative to provide support to the Kayayei girls.

Even though the event was organized on a market day (which posed a challenge of low patronage), the project provided support to over 200 girls and women providing them with PPEs, health essentials and COVID-19 education to help them protect themselves from the deadly virus.

Beneficiaries interact with AVI staff.

“I have been a Kayayoo before and so, I am aware of the dynamics of the Kaya business and the daily challenges of the Kaya girl. Looking at COVID-19, I can really tell how it has affected their business. Apart from the fact that most people will not prefer to come to the marketplace, the ones who come will usually not prefer to engage the services of the girls because of potential contact with the virus. The idea of this project was to provide them with PPEs while they work and also to provide them with adequate education on the virus,” communicated by Teni Agana, when speaking on the motivation behind the decision to organize the project.

The NEXTi2i team also interviewed a beneficiary of the project by name Mary Izibini. Mary Izibini is a Nigerian that travelled to Ghana in February this year. She was a petty ice cream trader in Lagos and travelled to Ghana to make a life better for herself. However, upon arrival to Ghana in the midst of the pandemic, the only job she could find was to assist another trader to sell tiger nuts. Mary participated in the COVID-19 relief project and in an interview with Mary she said that she thinks “ this program is very supportive. Since arrival to Ghana, I have not gotten any of these relief packages from any other organization. With these in my hands, I think, I am in a better position to protect myself now. I will give Loozele Initiative 9/10 if I am like a teacher giving marks to a student.”

Samantha Iddrisu, who has been in the “Kaya” business for over 3 years and is the leader of a group of Kayayei in Madina, offered her perspective on the virus and the extent to which she thinks the Relief project can be beneficial to the Kayayei girls. First speaking on the effect on the pandemic on her personal life, she stated that, “The virus has disrupted a lot in my personal life. Currently our business has slowed down and the people we usually work for don’t contact us because they are afraid we have the virus due to the nature of our work. Also my three-year old son is no longer going to school and I have to bring him to market every day.”

She encouraged other organizations to further increase their support by assisting the Kayayei girls with food. According to her, the PPEs usually remain a secondary option for the girls because they often have to work to feed themselves before they can think of buying protective equipment and hygiene items for themselves. 

For Eco Fashn and the Loozele Initiative, tackling the dynamics of the Coronavirus necessitates educating as many people as possible about the virus and providing help where required. Several fellows of the AVI have plans to implement other relief projects before the year ends.

The donations were held at the Kaya Childcare Center, a childcare project started by Ashesi University faculty, Ms Rose Dodd.The Ashesi Venture Incubator is a pilot project of the NEXTi2i Program, an Ashesi University program operated in collaboration with MIT D-Lab and supported by USAID. In effect, the project event showcased Ashesi university-related initiatives coming together to support the work of Kayayeis in the Madina market. To learn more about the Kaya Childcare Center or make donations, please visit To learn more about the Ashesi Venture Incubator and AVI fellows, please visit