Notre Dame Girls shall bring change!

This blog was written by Theresah Frimpong.
A member of the InspiNest entrepreneurship hub at Notre Dame Girls Senior High School. 

Creativity is intelligence having fun as Albert Einstein had said. As Notre Dame Girls who want to bring change through innovation, we were super excited to hear that the pioneers from InspiNest were coming back to our school for the third time. After the first and second time, where they had taught us how to identify and solve problems and also entrepreneurship respectively.

We were particularly excited because we could not wait to present our ideas to the board, to prove to them that we had understood what they came earlier to teach. Also, for them to know that we had kept the hub going despite a few challenges. 

We mustered courage and presented our genius ideas

The program started around 10 am on October 1st 2022. The program was a bit late than expected. When it started we had the platform to introduce our ideas to the board. And being frank, we were so full of mixed feelings like, we thought the board will not appreciate our idea, the idea in general is a bad one and perhaps they might even make fun of us. But nevertheless, we mustered courage and presented our genius ideas.

The first one was to package a fine clay. That is, clay which is free from unwanted particles and it has been pounded enough to be soft and moistened enough to make it plastic. Ideally, our product is unique because there is none on the market and also since clay does not expire, the product will last for a long time because we did not add any preservatives.

Our product will solve the problem of tedious pounding of clay and time wasting removal of particles which will enable the ceramics and sculpture work to be made faster. This brilliant idea was from the visual arts department and it was presented by two of their finest: Ubindam Sandra and Dankwah Saviour. 

Ubindam Sandra and Dankwah Saviour

As we wanted the board to be more proud, we made another presentation which solves the problem of stains on the tables we have in the dining hall. And thus we presented a rubber-made table cloth made out of sachet water.

It is made of rubber because we can not waste time washing material cloth for the food stains to go away but we can just wipe it off, which will save time. This product will solve the problem of food stains on the tables which does not make it appetising to sit and eat at the next meal. Our idea was presented by Sarfo Zipporah. 

Sarfo Zipporah

Positive mindsets

We were talked to by Madame Princella Dzidzor Quarshie on changing minds to transfer lives to inspire us to have a positive mindset towards whatever we do. We were asked to say what extraordinary thing we have or we can do which would cause a positive change. Our answers varied from using our voices to our skills and also using our knowledge, that is sharing what we know. We had the entertainment part of the meeting.

While others sang and danced, interestingly two people recited a poem on having positive mindsets. Snacks were shared and we had to take pictures and after the meeting came to an end officially, we had time to ask the pioneers personal questions privately. 

inspinest notre dame
Madame Priscilla Quarshie

InspiNest has taught us how to be entrepreneurs practically. That is being able to detect problems and develop solutions for these detected problems. Again, we have learnt from them to be genius and creative which is being able to bring out new innovations to help solve problems and prevent them as well. We were taught again not to be intellectuals only, because intellectuals solve problems but we also have to be genius enough to prevent them. 

InspiNest: Bono Changemakers – The Ghanian girl bringing change through innovation. And yes! Notre Dame Girls shall bring change. We express our profound gratitude to InspiNest. 

Theresah Frimpong 
Notre Dame Girls Senior High 
Member of InspiNest

Create jobs instead of seeking jobs

Why is entrepreneurship so fascinating? For me, it’s about experiencing the passion of people who want to throw everything they got into an innovative idea with the hope of creating a sustainable livelihood for themselves and subsequently others. That is exactly what I witnessed at UEIC in Accra.

Last week I had the honor of being a judge at the UPSA Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center (UEIC) start-up pitching contest at the University of Professional Studies in Accra (UPSA).   

I was impressed by the level of innovation and progress these young students had obtained in just one years training at the UEIC accelerator programme, which is;

“..aimed at developing the interest and building graduates’ mindset from UPSA to spend their one year national service period developing a business that will bring systemic change in Ghana regarding job creation and employability.”

The pitching event was the culmination of the one year training at UEIC. The 13 aspiring startup founders pitched their business, showcasing product samples, 3-year financial plans and funding requests.

upsa ueic

Re-using waste material

If you live in Ghana, you will know that waste collection is a huge societal and environmental problem. But these young innovators turn the problem into opportunity.

Ghana’s future looks brighter when you witness young Ghanaians come up with ambitious and innovative business ideas, especially when they are based on societal issues with an eco-friendly and sustainable touch to it as well. Several contestants was basing their operations on the use of all sorts of waste material as their primary resource.

This underlines that a mindset of seeing possibilities instead of limitations can take you very far. Something we preach everyday at InspiNest, when trying to change peoples mindsets in the Bono Region.

upsa ueic

I was also happy that these aspiring business owners, was only asking for realistic funding between 10k – 50k and not for half a million. The youth unemployment in Ghana is widespread and growing. This is why it doesn’t make sense to focus the start-up funding on a few extremely talented and fortunate ones.

I will keep saying this:

Let’s focus on many small investments, instead of a few large. There are so many youth in Ghana that can start their own businesses with very little funding provided. 

As my fellow judge Mr. Richard Osei Owusu put so right: “Create jobs instead of seeking jobs.”  

Mr Richard Osei Owusu, Director of Finance, Interglobal Partners Limited & Member of the Governing Council, UEIC.

The winners of the pitching contest will be announced on graduation day, September 8th at UPSA.

Read more about the event at Ghana News Agency: Thirteen UPSA Start-ups pitch business ideas for capital injection.

Bono Changemakers – A new approach to entrepreneurship in Ghana

Bono Changemakers is our biggest project to date, empowering more than 2000 young girls to innovate their local communities by capacitating and inspiring each other to a more innovative and entrepreneurial mindset.

The youth population is growing rapidly in Ghana and so is unfortunately the youth unemployment. The solution to this problem is entrepreneurship. That is at least a common public belief. And we are all excited about the innovative and digital startups popping up across the country. Or should I say in Kumasi and Accra?

Such startups have typically been subjects to extensive training and coaching in entrepreneurship, business and finances. And last, but not least – they have most likely received funding by winning a pitching competition in front of prominent judges from international corporations.

Now please try and envision this: You are a girl. 18 years old. Living in a small town in Ghana, and you have just graduated from the free public Senior High School. Yesterday you found out that your best friend is now pregnant with her second child. Commodities such as a laptop or wifi is something you have only heard of. What you have been told though, is, that you are staring straight into a future of unemployment like the rest of the Ghanian youth.

Now, let’s be real: Entrepreneurial business theory and buzz words such as Cost structure, Agile, Break even, Marketing channels, and Startup incubation will not make sense in your local context, will it?

Bono Changemakers is a collaboration with our Danish partner and NGO Civil Connections who are recognised for their experience and focus on grassroots development projects across Africa. Our new approach to entrepreneurship in Ghana is contextually and locally based by focusing more on impacting mindsets to become more innovative and entrepreneurial and less on teaching western business theory.

Problem identified is problem half solved

At Inspinest Foundation we believe in the mantra of “problem identified is problem half solved”. By letting the involved girls identify local issues in their communities and discuss possible solutions, they develop a much needed critical and more innovative mindset. But in order to find solutions to their issues, they will need inspiration. This is why we introduce the second mantra; “if you are experiencing an issue, you are probably not the first one on this planet facing it”.

People might not have Wi-Fi in rural Ghana, but the youth often have access to a smartphone and thereby access to possible solutions developed in other parts of the country or even another part of the world. By tweaking the solution and working with what is available to them in their local context, the issue has now been turned into a possible source of income.

In 12 months we will have established 5 entrepreneurship/innovation hubs at 5 different junior/senior high schools in the Bono Region of Ghana. Here, thoroughly trained Changemakers and teachers will ensure a sustainable empowerment of the mindsets of young girls for many years to come by arranging monthly innovation workshops and events.

On top of this, we are establishing a regional advocacy group which will work for a more supportive culture for young girls and entrepreneurship, based on the learnings and experiences from the project.

We hope that the impact of this project will Inspire other regions of Ghana to implement the same model or at least reconsider the approach to entrepreneurship.

Please follow the ongoing development of our project on our website and on our social media.

Emil Persson
Inspinest Foundation.