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

Collaboration over competition!

Is collaboration among organizations/stakeholders necessary?

Just as in business, where people choose joint ventures to strengthen and join forces with others in order to maximize profits, In the same way that one can bring their strong sides and complement each other where one is weak.

Similarly, organizations/stakeholders aiming to change society can use the same approach. Working together to ensure we’re all pulling our weight to help each other.

A popular saying goes, “A broomstick can easily be broken, but when broomsticks are tied together, the broom will bend but not break.” This statement carries some weight.

Why don’t we all help each other succeed because, in reality, you can succeed best by helping others.

collaboration

InspiNest collaborative effort with other organizations.

One of the most important factors that stakeholders hammered on during our recent advocacy meeting was the need for partnership and collaboration between NGO’s to help solve challenges in the entrepreneurial world.

We live in a country where people like tearing each other down. It appears to be more of a battle to prove or show yourself approved.

Even though this is not necessarily a bad thing because you improve as a person when you can show a progress report of what you do, in the same light, one person can only do so much, but when individuals decide to collaborate, the end results are usually worthwhile.

Civil Connections visit from Denmark to Ghana demonstrated one thing: ‘teamwork.’

There is so much that can be done, but by working together, everyone on the team can find their voice. When organizations join forces, whether for charitable or business reasons, they can leverage on others to form a formidable force.

How can we foster collaboration?

  • TRUST – The foundation of any long-term relationship is trust. For others to put their trust in you, you must be trustworthy as a person. This is a moral principle, not a business one.
  • RESPECT – Respect does not imply superiority. It cannot be demanded, but must be earned. Whether you’re a leader or a subordinate, it’s critical to respect each other as people first, then for the roles you play.
  • WILLINGNESS – This can be translated in a number of ways, but in order to not give up easily, you must be willing to give your all for a higher purpose. Know your goal and commit to achieving it.
  • EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION – Disagreement will always arise when two people misunderstand each other. As a result, communication and opinions must be received with clarity.

The main goal is for individuals to be able to collaborate in order to achieve a common goal. Goal 17 of the SDGs discusses partnership for sustainable development.

The UN even admits that achieving this goal will require strong global partnership and cooperation. This only emphasizes the importance of people working together to build better, more effective communities and a more sustainable world.

collaboration

Consider an individual doing all of an organization’s planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling. It leads to burnout, but if more people join, each one can be assigned a role; a role where they are good at . Then we can achieve more effective and better results.

Collaborations have shaped organizations all over the world.

There is no limit to what companies from various industries can create when they collaborate.

Take into account how organizations such as McDonald’s and Burger King, as well as Uber and Spotify, were able to increase recognition, make better use of knowledge and resources, and increase profitability simply by collaborating.

Collaborations can even reveal that you share the same audience, which aids in the development of a formidable brand for both companies.

When two companies collaborate, both organizations benefit from the experience. They bring their own insight and creativity to the table, which is what makes a collaboration successful for both parties.

Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.

collaboration

Less talk, more action.

It appears to be a cliché, and it is said everywhere, but the truth is the truth. Rather than just talking about it, we need more action and implementation.

Having multiple advocacy meetings with no results.

Meeting stakeholders for brunch is not the way to go.

When policies are implemented, public education should be improved. 

The general public should be aware of what the policy stands for.

The beneficiary should be aware of the implications of those policies.

What this country lacks is access to information. The majority of the population is unaware of the policies enacted on their behalf, let alone understands them.

What are policies and what role do they serve?

Policies are based on the idea that what you put in is what you get out. Simply put, your efforts are rewarded. People must be informed about why a particular policy is beneficial to them in order for them to invest in it.

People must be convinced that what they put in the demand box will generate funds.

They become interested when their grievances are addressed or when a specific need is addressed.

Let us not kid ourselves, people need motivation and inspiration to feel like they belong, but it cannot be just another sod cutting event; work must be put into any idea or policy for it to serve its purpose.

Miss Mercy Boakyewaa, a Political Science student at the University of Winneba in Ghana, explained how the political system works, including the support and demand factors I mentioned earlier.

Anything imposed has no future, and you do not impose policies on citizens. You must properly explain these policies in order for them to flow freely

MERCY BOAKYEWAA, POLITICAL SCIENCE STUDENT
less talk, more action

A few of the impediments are bureaucracy and a lack of implementation.

We’re discussing the political system because of the country’s bureaucracy. Your project may work, but it may not be completely effective if those at the top do not advocate for it.

Whatever you do can work, but there are certain structures you must follow. You cannot do it alone; you must have people who can speak on your behalf in rooms where you are not present. This allows your work to spread more quickly.

This whole structure lacks substance and it is a mindset that has to change.

During our policy dialogue meeting, the majority of stakeholders expressed their dissatisfaction with how policies are developed and implemented.

bono policy dialogue

The issue with most policies is their implementation. There are no resources to put them into action in order for them to have an impact.

 On the ground, how are policies affecting society?

There has to be a strong advocacy to ensure that some of these policies are tailored to suit the implementation.

Mr Baffuor Anane, Regional Director, Community Development, bono region

Ways to champion “the more action” agenda!

Policymakers must eschew the gain-at-all-costs mentality and be willing to work with others to effect change and development in their community.

So, what are the options? Our educational system can be reformed, and people can be taught useful skills. Schools can collaborate with local organizations in their communities to provide students with hands-on training. Teachers and parents should identify their children’s strengths in order to provide a solid foundation for them.

Most importantly, the youth must be allowed to express their creative and innovative sides. Only in this way will policies be able to benefit the younger generation.

This blog talks a lot about the struggle with policies, but we can’t talk about the struggle if nothing changes. That is why InspiNest strives to be a voice for the younger generation while also changing mindsets.

Our mission is not in loud works but effective works.

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.

Relocating from Accra to Sunyani – alone!

Relocating appears to be a simple task until the time comes to take the plunge.

To be clear, I’ve always said in passing that I’d like to leave the hustle and bustle of Accra, but never considered what it would entail to relocate to an unknown location.

What necessitated my relocation to Sunyani?

It all started with a job application with no surety of relocating but still applying because it looked promising. I came across a publication by InspiNest while searching for job applications on LinkedIn one day, and as a communication professional with a degree in Public Relations, I thought why not?

I applied because I thought it would be a good opportunity to improve my communication skills. I had no hope of moving because I assumed it would be one of those numerous job applications where you never get called.

relocating

Favor on my side, I received a message in the early morning of February 8, 2022 informing me that I had been scheduled for an interview with InspiNest. I met with my current boss, Emil Persson, and our project manager, Godfred Darko, for the interview. I had a stressful morning, so I don’t think I gave it my all. But after the interview, I briefly considered whether I would be willing to relocate to Sunyani.

Let me walk you through the process of deciding whether or not to relocate.

Immediately, I began looking for Sunyani on the map, and that 8 hour drive from Accra killed my spirit. Truthfully, I gave up until four days later when I was contacted for further discussions. I kept asking myself, “Why me?”

I remember talking to my mother and two close friends because I needed to know if I was making the right decision. Living in an unknown location, having to fend for yourself while providing basic amenities and utilities, is the definition of the ghetto. Please do not take that step if you are not prepared to make certain difficult decisions about your finances and life.

Inspinest Ghana

If skeptical was a name, I would be it. I had to leave Accra by March, so I had a month to wallow in worry and overthinking. I awoke numerous times wondering if I really needed to do this. Some days, I told myself that this job wasn’t for me, while others, I wanted to follow my heart and take the risk.

The only thing that kept me going was this: I’m going to start my professional communication journey with this and build a career around it. After deciding to relocate, I realized how important it was to have a vision and pursue it.

I started having imposter syndrome a few days before I had to leave. My dad, as usual, wanted to be an investigative journalist so took all the pertinent information about the company. On March 12th, I finally packed my bags and a few essentials and headed to the bus station. I called my sister for moral support, and by the time I arrived, I knew this was where I wanted to be.

relocating

Relocating has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

How did I find out? When praying for a job, ask for a work environment that will not lead to burnout, depression, or regret. Felix Dumong, our co-founder, met us at the bus station, and the reception was phenomenal. I felt like I belonged here, and all of my uncertainties and doubts vanished.

Most at times, you will think that the reception is a nine-day wonder, but no, I get the freedom to be creative.

A few months later, and it has truly been an interesting journey filled with widespread optimism. There have been both setbacks and surprises. But ultimately I have no regrets. The work culture, coupled with the fact that I enjoy my job, has made me feel at ease in Sunyani. I rarely think about going to Accra anymore. Now I get to speak to young girls about my passions and make a positive impact on their lives.  

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.

What they don’t tell you about entrepreneurship!

Entrepreneurship is a ruthless battle.

Entrepreneurship can have you up at 3 a.m stressing about finding a solution. Idea generation and idea execution are two distinct processes. Having an idea is one thing, but how we put those ideas into action is what really matters. One common mistake that entrepreneurs make is assuming that having an idea is sufficient. The real job entails putting in the effort.

There are times when the level of sacrifice can emotionally weaken you. Missing out on important life events because you must devote all of your energy to your business.

Do not be embarrassed to withdraw from certain activities. It simply means that your discipline is taking you to places where you cannot be distracted.

IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP WORTH CONSIDERING ?

What could be more exciting than creating your own life by doing what you love, with less reliance on the government or individuals to recommend you. That is the essence of entrepreneurship. Being self-sufficient and able to sustain it is admirable, but all too often, we only see the end results.

Who walks you through the production process? NO ONE! You have to figure it out on your own.

Unfortunately, entrepreneurs face poor business environments, a lack of originality because someone else is ready to copy your business model, human resources, and, most importantly, a lax attitude toward work.

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS FIELD

One aspect of entrepreneurship that receives little attention is its relationship to human relations. Whether you like it or not, the people around you have an indirect impact on your ideas or business.

That is why people require role models and outside inspiration. Entrepreneurship has a link to our interpersonal relationships. Your success is directly related to the health of your relationships.

If you’re constantly giving your energy to distractions and worrying about those around you, you won’t have the mental clarity to create, manifest, and grow a brand.

There is also the issue of oversharing. You’re constantly told to move in silence for fear of having your ideas stolen. Because people sabotage your dreams, you must move in strategic silence. 

However, knowing who to be silent around is also important because the right people in your circle can help you think about things differently in order to bring ideas to life.

When you decide to become an entrepreneur, you learn, make mistakes, and do what works best for you. The long term result is that you get better and more creative every day.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

I’ll conclude by saying that with the advancement of social media as a channel for growing businesses, entrepreneurs are finding it easier to reach a larger audience. It’s not at all easy to go from 100 followers to thousands or even millions.

It takes consistency. But what if consistency isn’t determined by how frequently you post, but by the purpose of your posts.  It means that each post has an impact on your community that is greater than the noise. Do not jump on every hot topic just to stay relevant.

Entrepreneurship can humble you, but do not be too quick to fold. Continue to nurture your ideas and don’t give up when doors are slammed in your face.  

No matter how tough things become, remember why you started!

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.

Is your ability to be innovative hindered by doubt and uncertainty?

The true impediment we face as humans is the spirit of doubt and uncertainty.

We live in an age of what IFs. “What if I fail to achieve this?” What if I don’t succeed? What if you do not fail should be the question. What if you have the ability? Because no one can predict the future, we must entrust it to the one who does.

Identify your doubts and uncertainties as you read this and decide whether they are worth putting in that category. Join me on this journey!

Where did these doubts come from? Some of the most common reasons for people’s doubts are as follows:

  • Comparisons With Others
  • Fear of Failure / Fear of Success
  • New Challenges
  • Past Experience and Mistakes
  • Childhood Upbringing

These are just a few of the reasons why people are skeptical. I believe anyone reading this falls into one of these categories.

We need inspiration because we require it in our lives. Once someone has done it, it clears the way for you to follow in their footsteps while making it better. The negative aspect arises when people begin to compare themselves to one another. “The sky is big enough for us all to fly,” as they say.

Only you are capable of doing what you are good at. This brings us back to the subject of passion. When you’re doing something you’re passionate about, the only room for improvement is for growth, not for self-doubt.

This is not another motivational speech where you get bamboozled. Yes, the fears and doubts will cripple in, it’s only human, but you have a choice : deal with them or allow them to manifest.

Simple steps to overcoming uncertainty and doubt

Our mind is the most powerful tool because it is the source of all human innovation. Every innovation originates in the mind. As entrepreneurs and innovators, we will face many roadblocks, including doubts, but can we view them as hurdles to overcome? We may not completely overcome them, but we will definitely reach a point where we are no longer afraid.

You can’t win as an innovator unless you have complete faith in your own abilities,  as well as your solution and business model. There is also a tendency to be overconfident, but ideas are frequently sabotaged by uncertainty and self-doubt.

Every small step or success must be celebrated with joy and zeal. This drowns out all of your fears. When things get tough, remember to be kind to yourself.

Overcoming doubts may be an unending journey. Consider whether your ideas are attainable. When making decisions, turn off your analytical mind and be very rational. You’ll be able to trust what you’re bringing into existence.

Finally, learn more and put it to use.

Discover your strengths and use them consistently. Trying to improve everything at the same time may not be ideal. You’re either an idea person or a business builder, or both. Find what you’re good at and build upon it.

Surround yourself with people whose strength are your weaknesses.

Never let yourself be concerned about mistakes you have made or may make in the future. Instead, celebrate all of your accomplishments and positive moments along the way.

Get motivated because, at the end of the day, you are your own biggest critic.

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.

Our focus is on the youth; grassroots!

Every institution, people in authority, older figure we meet or engage with more often that not leave us with the statement, “ I wish I had this training when I was younger”.

This rings in your head often because you’ll begin to wonder how things were done. Could it have been better?

Now there’s no room for regret because it’s our aim to assist and help the youth, mostly grassroots because that’s where the focus should be.

What we refer to as grassroots is simply the younger generation. Young children who are still finding their feet in the world. Junior high and senior high school students who have not yet been exposed to the hardship of the job market or even the world at large.

Why are we focusing on the female youth?

We still live in a very male dominant world where there are limited opportunities for young females. It may seem far-fetched because mindsets are changing and there’s a fight for gender equality but at the grassroots, there is still a long way to go.

Most young people often have the ” I cant mentality” in this part of our country. Before they even try, there is less motivation to pursue their goals. Being at a young age gives the advantage to try, make mistakes but then you get better throughout the process.

Young people should be given the room to feel that their dreams are valid and achievable.

The creative gap asserts that young children tend to be more creative and innovative as compared to adults. Its just like every growth process, each stage of your life presents you with things you can do. Young children are free to explore, make mistakes and harness their creative ability to the best of their abilities.

There is usually no limit to how innovative they can be. This is why we focus on them, to guide them to be the best versions of themselves at their young age so as they grow, there is something tangible to rely upon.

Extracts from changemaker training of the youth; grassroots

During our training, we had a 10 year old girl from Bishop Owusu Girls JHS. She happened to be the youngest yet one of the brilliant changemakers. You will ask why the youth? This is why.

These young ones tend to be very open, vocal, innovative and passionate about their ideas.

Using Michelle as an example, we were so motivated and proud of how she fit in with her peers who were much older, and be creative in her own way.

 If we can get thousands of young children to champion this course, imagine the future we will be creating for them. A future that enables them to follow what they are passionate about. Then we’re bringing up young adults who thrive for more which reflects in everything they do.

To sum it all up, we will like to see the youth identify and take ownership of anything they create. There is a sense of responsibility when one feels involved in a task. They should take ownership of their creative journey and be the best version of themselves.

Michelle and our project manager

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

Role of parents in Entrepreneurship

I want to be an artist but my dad wants me to be a doctor.

“I want to be a business woman but my mum wants me to be a lawyer ”.

These are some of the common comments from young people when asked what they are passionate about. Most stories we hear are parents deterring their children from a particular career path.

In this blog, we’re going to demystify the myth surrounding certain career choices and the role of parents in entrepreneurship, how they can assist to change their mindset and that of their children.

Let’s put the disclaimer out there, our parents sometimes make choices they see best for us. These are mostly due to security, sustainability, less risks and among others. Parents would want their kids to have a secure future in terms of employment. I mean who would want a 30 year old child still struggling to get a good source of income. So it’s much easier to define a clear path at a younger age so as to avoid the former.

The issue now stems from different passions and dreams. Young people will gear into entrepreneurship because the job security promised became unachievable. Major cause of this is the high unemployment rate in Ghana.

Parents are our first Entrepreneurs.

As parents are shifting their kids to pick more white-collar jobs, what we notice is, our parents themselves are more involved in entrepreneurship. They own businesses, employ themselves, they are their own accountants and everything but their kids venture into something totally different. This shows us that, the role of parents in entrepreneurship cannot be overlooked. So why are the youth not inspired to tread the same path? Are they not attractive enough? Is it not lucrative? Mind you, it’s the same business that provides for everyone at home also. Why then do we not make it a habit to inculcate the entrepreneurial culture in the youth at an early age.

There’s a verse that goes, train a child in the way that he should go, and when he grows he will depart from it. This verse we can proudly say applies in every aspect or stage of a young child’s life.

What is the way forward?

 We at InspiNest would love parents to come on board on this mindset change journey. We can do so much in their schools and through our training activities but what happens in their respective homes? What role does the parent play in ensuring that their kids, apart from securing a good career path, can also pursue what they’re passionate about with fewer restrictions. It’s amazing to see professionals have a “side hustle” as we call it attached to what they have studied.

We would really love our parents to be involved in the mindset change journey and it begins with one home at a time.

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.