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

Join us in visiting our Changemakers

To say it’s a joy to see our changemakers every day would be an understatement. Words cannot express that moment because you play an active role in a project that aims to change lives.
As our Project manager, Godfred Darko, would say; “follow InspiNest to know my passion,” so why not follow our journey to learn about ours?

Background of our workshops.

Prior to that, for anyone reading our blogs for the first time, we held a number of training sessions for young girls in SHS and JHS schools in the Bono region. Our teaching model incorporates activity-based learning while also changing these students’ mindsets toward innovation and entrepreneurship. We take pride in knowing that we are not simply instilling a skill in these children, but rather providing them with the knowledge to identify problems and provide solutions to them.

Highlights from each of the schools.

Our first stop was at NOTRE DAME SHS. Six trained changemakers have now increased to 30 changemakers because these young girls did not keep their knowledge to themselves and had to train their colleagues. During the visit, they presented the innovative ideas they had already developed. They wanted to create a robotic air cooler that traps dust in schools to make it easier for asthmatic patients to breathe. They also proposed establishing an organization to educate young girls in their community about their basic rights.

These are all brilliant ideas, and with the right assistance and support, they will be able to realize them.
View excerpts from the visit by clicking on this link.

Our next stop was at Our Lady of Providence in Drobo. We joined our changemakers at their hub meeting here. We listened to and discussed their ideas, provided additional information about the business model, and included some participatory games. The girls and patrons were advised on how to best sustain the hubs while also ensuring that everyone participates in the idea generation process. The two-hour drive to campus was definitely worth it.

Moving on, we went to Serwaa Kesse SHS, where our six changemakers had changed and added over 50 new girls. We took them through the workshop again to ensure that they all had an equal understanding of what the project was all about.

Our next stop was the Bishop Owusu Girls School Complex. The young girls expressed their excitement for the project and hoped that more people will participate. We have young girls as young as 10 years old who have gone through this training process, and hearing them express themselves in this way is fascinating. This also demonstrates that if you give children a voice, they will use it as a stepping stone to greater heights.

Finally, our train arrived at NOTRE DAME JHS. The joy and excitement on the faces of these young people was unrivaled. They express themselves better through art. These young girls are able to draw problems they see in their surroundings and provide feasible solutions.

The emphasis on local communities is important to us, so we are pleased to see that the girls are on the right track.

What do we hope to accomplish?

We are working to make these entrepreneurial hubs as sustainable as possible. Allowing changemakers to take ownership of these hubs and, more importantly, to be problem solvers in their communities, as well as to pass on ownership to the next generation of girls, and them to the next, and so on..

We want like-minded individuals who recognize the need for the youth to change their perspectives on entrepreneurship and innovation. Everyone of us is creative in our own unique way. Creative enough to come up with innovative ideas that can be turned into a business venture. We simply need the right education, guidance, and support to succeed.

Policy Dialogue – charting Bono region’s entrepreneurial framework

InspiNest has held its first policy dialogue meeting in order to strengthen the region’s entrepreneurial culture as part of the project Bono Changemakers targeting young female entrepreneurship in Bono.

The policy dialogue is part of the organisation’s efforts to generate policy recommendations on the challenges that young female entrepreneurs face in the Bono region, entrepreneurship inclusion in schools, and ideas for how to best structure this course.

The event headline under the theme “identifying the challenges and opportunities for growth: the reality on the ground” had in attendance: The Department of Gender, Department of Children, Department of Social Welfare, Department of Community Development, Ghana Education Service, Sunyani Youth Development Association as well as other stakeholders from the region.

Discussions were centered on recommendations and suggestions made by Inspinest’s advocacy group. Some of the challenges highlighted that young entrepreneurs in the region face include lack of room for innovation for children, parents suppressing their children’s potential, lack of mentorship within the community, and unhealthy competition from pioneers, to name a few.

Targeting the youth early on

Madam Joycelyn Adii, regional director for the Department of Gender, lauded InspiNest for providing young girls with the necessary skills to succeed in entrepreneurship.

“What we can instill in them at a young age will go a long way.” People at the university stage often have already formed a mindset about what they want to be, but at a younger age, we can change their mindset pretty early,” she reiterated.

Mr Felix Dumong, co-founder of InspiNest, expressed gratitude to all stakeholders in attendance.
“When mindsets are changed, outcomes are different and if we change mindsets towards innovation, our societal problems can be easily solved ”, he added.

There was also a call to action that, as policies are developed, implementation and sustainability should be prioritized in order to ensure an effective system for young girls.

Following each advocacy meeting, a Policy Dialogue Forum will be held bimonthly to allow participants to share and exchange their experience and expertise, as well as to gather new policy initiative ideas.

The young female entrepreneurship initiative is in partnership with Civil Connections and SDG WORLD.

Advocacy meeting to boost entrepreneurial and innovative culture

InspiNest as part of its project to train young females in entrepreneurship and innovation held its maiden advocacy meeting.

This is in line with boosting the entrepreneurial and innovation culture among young girls in the Bono region. 

The project; “Bono Changemakers”, seeks to train 2000 and more girls in entrepreneurship with an emphasis on change of mindsets.

The advocacy meeting forms part of the organization’s efforts to bring stakeholders, NGOs, and entrepreneurs who are concerned with entrepreneurship and how it is viewed in the Bono region, to come together to discuss relevant issues and provide solutions, favorable to the girl child. 

AREAS OF INTEREST

The event headline under the theme “identifying the challenges and opportunities for growth: the reality on the ground” had in attendance ActionAid, SmAid International, Camfed Ghana, WanHive Ghana, Glomef, Fiapre Youth Association, IWEN, ADAF Ghana as well as Entrepreneurs from the region.

Some of the challenges raised which were crucial were the mindset of young people, the educational system, public policy, access to information, and many others but the key factor was the mindsets of young people.

An entrepreneur in the region Miss Nana Ama Asiedu stressed the need for these young girls to be educated to gain a different perspective on entrepreneurship. In order to do this, there should be a collective effort to seek mindset change.

“It all starts with the mind, young children must be given the platform to excel. If we want to champion entrepreneurship, we have to start from the basic level in order to do away with in-built mentalities regarding entrepreneurship”

NANA AMA ASIEDU, ENTREPRENEUR

The co-founder of InspiNest, Mr. Felix Dumong noted that the Bono region operated differently as compared to other urban places.

“ The more people we have thinking about change, the better for the region. Girls at young ages should be made to see that they can achieve more, inculcate in them the need for change at an early age, then the reality of unemployment which we face in the country will be minimized”

MR. FELIX DUMONG, CEO AND CO-FOUNDER,Inspinest
advocacy meeting

ADVOCACY GROUP TO SHAPE POLICY DECISIONS

Discussions and suggestions held during the meeting are to be presented to policymakers.

A policy dialogue meeting will be held to deliberate on how best policies can be formed to improve entrepreneurship.

In order for sustainability, the advocacy group meetings will be held occasionally. This is to strengthen collaborations with stakeholders and also ensure ideas are being implemented.

The young female entrepreneurship initiative is in partnership with Civil Connections and SDG WORLD.

Discover our secrets to change mindsets

Entrepreneurship and innovation means different things to different people. When people take up entrepreneurship and innovation projects, focus is usually on training people in a particular skill, either bead making, soap making, ICT related courses and many others. InspiNest would like to change mindsets and redefine the thought of entrepreneurship and innovation.

Our mantra is simple; changing mindset towards innovation. Every individual has their own passion and what motivates them. It will be a time-drain to train someone in a particular skill then after a year or two, the person neglects it just because it was imposed or for the simple reason of not being passionate about it.

HOW DO WE CHANGE MINDSETS THEN?

Every venture you set up must come easily to you.

This is why we do what we do. We want young people to identify within themselves things they would like to change. Things they consider problems that they can solve. Things they can relate to in their local communities. That is where the change of mindset begins.

If young adults can define their own path and figure out what to do in their own space, then we can say we’ve done a good job of inculcating entrepreneurship and innovation spirit in them. 

CASE STUDY!!

Taking reference from our changemaker trainings we’ve done so far, most of these young girls came with varied expectations, varied thoughts and reasoning on how entrepreneurship should look like. We all agree that it should be looked at as an art through which you make profit or establish a business but we see the journey as a change in mindset in order to solve a problem.

We want people to have fun while being innovative. The creative process is harnessed effectively when you have fun doing it. One of the activities we focused on was including games into the training. The girls become more involved when they’re having fun.

These games help shape their thought process too. For instance, our risk taker game involves throwing a ball from a distance into a pit. The higher point you throw from, the higher points you get. This is related to any business, even banks make this assertion that investing involves risk, the higher the risk, the higher the returns.

Same as entrepreneurship, if you need to bring something into existence, you have to be willing to take higher yet calculated risks for it. The simple way of teaching the girls this was through a game. That’s a mindset change there because, complex things were broken down into much more relatable context.

Another angle to take into consideration when seeking to change mindsets is drawing inspiration from people, surroundings and many more. People become more creative and innovative when they can draw inspiration from it. Our entrepreneurial pitch forms a major part of our training exercise.

We have seen how engaged the young girls become when external presenters in the form of entrepreneurs share their journey with them. The highs and lows these entrepreneurs share serve as a major inspiration to our young ones. They now believe that, if someone LOCAL can do it, then they can do it too.

We change mindsets by seeing issues more as opportunities other than problems. We have this mantra that says, if it annoys you, then it probably annoys someone else. It goes to affirm that problems will always exist, it’s up to as us individuals to try to solve them. But seeing them as problems might be limiting.

We should then ask ourselves how best we can provide a solution to it. That is all we preach to our young females. They should find any problem within their local community, draw inspiration from others, get feedback, make adjustments then build upon it.

By doing this, it becomes an opportunity to exploit their creative and innovative side which goes a long way to be a business venture if it’s feasible. Thus satisfying our vision of bringing up innovative entrepreneurs.

At InspiNest, our young females should after the one year form new mindsets regarding innovation and entrepreneurship. This change should also trickle down to their communities, peer groups and nation at large.

Our evaluation report shows that 75 mindset changed at the end of the BONO changemakers workshop.

The Ghanaian girl, A changemaker

Who is a changemaker?

A changemaker is one who achieves positive change for the greater good by taking innovative action.

He or she influences and inspires others to support until the change is achieved.

Imagine a young girl between the ages of 15-18 being bestowed as a changemaker for their school. Feels like a heavy load one can carry.

How do you navigate this role effectively?

How do you act as a changemaker and be able to in turn educate your fellow students? Seems like a hurdle to me if you ask.

Was that even the case?

This is an amazing project and I’ll want my friends to hear about it so I’ll definitely spread the word.

Patience, our lady providence

This assertion on the first day crumbled all the worry and gave confidence that they were going to benefit a lot from this project.

Now lets get into details of how the project proceeded. We had a 4 day workshop to imbibe in their inner self the need to be creative and innovative. Girls from 3 SHS schools namely Serwaa Kesse SHS, Notre Dame SHS and Our Lady of Providence Girls’ received training in various entrepreneurial development.

These girls were taken through various training namely in innovation, problem identification and solving, business models, how to identify their unique selling points and also communication and social media.

How do you turn your passion into a business idea?

It’s one thing to perform a role and another to be passionate about it. Entrepreneurship becomes easy only when you’re passionate about it.

The next step is applying it to a business model to check its feasibility.

HIGHLIGHT OF EACH DAY

Our changemakers identified their passions and limitations and you should consider doing the same too. Having an idea of what you’re passionate about helps you narrow down on the things that are achievable and what are not.

On DAY 2, business models were introduced to the girls. Every business needs a model for it to operate effectively because a business is about the people. A simple business model addresses the following: the resources you need for your business, what value you are providing, how to reach your customers, your expenses and income.

It is amazing to see young girls come up with brilliant ideas like a disease detector, preserved pito (pito: local African drink), a wooden calculator, among others.

changemaker
STORYTELLING

Storytelling is a major part of the entrepreneurial journey. Every successful entrepreneur sells an idea by telling stories. Stories of how they were able to identify a problem and provide solutions to that problem. What better way to boost the confidence of these young girls than to inspire them with a local entrepreneur.

People feel connected to whatever you do when you’re relatable and they can draw inspiration from you.

On DAY 4, we looked at essence of social media and how to leverage it to grow your business. We shouldn’t deny the impact of social media on the growth of businesses. More than half of the world’s population use it as a means of communication.

It will be sad to limit them because that’s where customers are focusing their attention. This brings us to the question; what’s a brand without your customers or audience?

THINK LOCAL BEFORE GLOBAL

Our aim for this training is to be able to change the mindsets of these young females. The young girls from the various schools left inspired and confident that they can make a change in their own community.

They should be able to think locally before making global impact. There’s so much of the world we haven’t seen. Try to impact your world and then go on and take on the world.

Gloria Bribi
Communications Officer
Inspinest Foundation

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
Co-Founder
Inspinest Foundation.