19 student entrepreneurs from Ashesi University have been selected to undergo a 1-year mentorship fellowship under the Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI) programme.
As part of the fellowship the incubatees, all recent graduates of Ashesi, will be provided with financial support, business development programmes and mentorship from local and global industry professionals.
Celebrating the commencement of its third cohort and third running year, the New Entrepreneurs Xchange for Transformation project (NEXTi2i) announced the fellows of this year’s programme with a brief profile about each of the selected young entrepreneurs.
Manuella Efua Sekyi
Efua Sekyi is the co-founder of Tradeupmarket, an e-commerce startup that provides a platform for the buying and selling of products and services. Her role at Tradeupmarket involves running their day-to-day operations, overseeing the creative development of their products and services and managing their supply chain. Manuella loves reading, writing and developing stories as her hobby.
Barnabas Kwame Sabbogu
Mr. Sabbogu is the co-founder and project manager of Hopelux Engineering Solutions, an engineering and construction company that renders services such as electrical wiring and installation, plumbing works, tiling, solar installations and biodigesters for household toilet facilities. Hopelux works with technicians and artisans to provide quality services to their clients by ensuring that their employees go through rigorous capacity building and training sessions. Barnabas relocated to Wa after graduation to work full-time at Hopelux. His role includes assessing projects for the company, negotiations and customer management and project management, also partaking in the recruitment of technicians. He is from Wa in the Upper West Region and loves research and playing soccer.
David Dieudonne Adu-Amoani
Is a software developer and the co-founder of Stockshop, an e-commerce platform that aims to bring the utmost convenience to its customers through its redesigned delivery experience. Stockshop prioritizes small/medium scale retailer growth, allowing users of the platform to invest in the retailers. David considers himself to be an Afro-Industrialist, summarizing his passion for initiation and African growth.
He is the founder of LiveFarm, an agribusiness that specialises in livestock farming, particularly the production of quality and poison-free grasscutter meat for the local market. Mathews is passionate about the agribusiness sector and believes that he is the only man to revive the engine of the economy of Ghana and Africa. He is originally from Bawku in the Upper East Region and loves hunting, tennis and travelling.
Maame Afia Darkwaah Obeng-Darko
Miss Obeng-Darko is the founder and creative lead of Kaleidoscope By MADOD, a small art business that uses resin to make products like keychains, bookmarks, canvases, phone cases, and jewellery. Maame is good with her hands, a family renowned chef in her spare time.
He is the co-founder of Meat Empire, a start-up meat processing company committed to processing, packaging and distributing meat. Meat Empire provides the Ghanaian meat consumer with fresh and highly nutritious processed meat that has been processed under safe and hygienic conditions, prioritising quality, timeliness and convenience. Joseph oversees the operations and logistics mobilization of the business and is known to be a strategist by his colleagues. He enjoys travelling and a good adventure and likes to learn new things in his spare time.
Warihana Gumah is the founder of Wriri Bespoke, a fashion brand that provides made-to-measure apparel for men and women. Wriri Bespoke makes a variety of clothes for any type of occasion, e.g. shirts, trousers, skirts, kaftans, agbadas and kaba and slit. Warihana’s passion for sewing inspired the founding of her business.
Ishmael Ofori Aboagye
Mr. Ofori Aboagye is the co-founder, president and lead innovation strategist of FIRENZE, an organisation committed to bridging innovation and technological gaps amongst children and teens in Conflict-Affected Persons (refugees) communities in Ghana. This is accomplished through the running of two programmes; Codedge (a coding school and boot camp) and WAABA, (Africa’s First Afro-Futuristic STEM-Novate (STEM & Innovation) Comics & Animations). Ishmael’s role at FIRENZE entails leading the innovation management team of the organisation in building a sustainable blueprint for the implementation of programmes. He also works with the finance team to ensure a sustainable financial trajectory for the company. He is a strong conceptual solutions developer, team player and thought leader.
Samuelle Abena Sarpong Asante
She is the founder of Kaniya, which provides safe, sustainable and economically friendly energy/ lighting alternatives for people living in areas with an inconsistent or no supply of electricity. Samuelle’s role at Kaniya ranges from developing strategies to community interactions and support. She is from Kwahu in the Eastern Region and loves gourmet food as well as doodling, painting and travelling.
Khanitat Sheriff Abdallah
Khanitat Sheriff Abdallah is the founder and sole proprietor of Zuri Shades, an affordable online eyewear shop that also fixies prescription lenses into glasses at low prices. Her role in the business is broad, involving the acquisition of supplies, managing finances, overseeing creative design and social media management. Khanitat is a Ghanaian travel and lifestyle Youtube vlogger who loves to film and edit videos.
Gifty Sefakor Affum
She is the founder of Sefa’s Patterns (previously known as G’s boutique), a clothing business that delivers elegant customized clothes at affordable prices for young women who want to feel confident through fashion. Sefa’s Patterns exact social impact by connecting seamstresses based in rural communities to the urban market. A percentage of all sales also goes towards helping build or purchase stationeries for daycare centres. Gifty loves watching movies.
Ms Dorkenu is the co-founder and operations manager for Korah Foods, a food preservation company that seeks to research and implement ways of extending the life span of some of the perishable food necessities in Ghana. Her role is to manage the operational process from resource acquisition to delivery to customers. In addition to this, Hannah is an environmentalist and creative art enthusiast.
Tumuhairwe Ronald is the founder of Cloth Mic, an online and offline platform that allows users to swap, rent, resell, buy and repurpose the clothes they wear the least. Cloth Mic seeks to promote sustainable fashion by minimizing the rate at which we purchase brand new clothes. Tumuhairwe is passionate about sustainable fashion that is geared towards ecological integrity and social justice.
Nana Yaw Sasu Appiah-Miracle
Mr. Appiah-Miracle is the co-founder and business strategy and development director of FullStalk, an agritech company tackling the inefficiencies on the African food value chain (such as access to market and capital) through technological innovations. Nana Yaw Sasu is from Tapa-Abotoase in the Oti Region.
Ruth Ayamga Danso
She is the co-founder of Trismi, which was founded to provide high-quality hair products with no harsh chemicals for African women, whether they have natural or permed hair. The word Trismi is a fusion of Tris (the short form of Beatrice, the name of the business’ founder) and mi (signifying the client). They seek to employ the skills and services of youth (primarily female members) in local communities, contributing to production and sales generation, which in turn is used to help improve the standard of living in these same communities. Ruth is currently the marketing manager for Korah Foods and works as a customer service representative for the administrative unit of the OMA Group (West Africa) as part of her National Service. Her role at Trismi encompasses everything from helping with administrative work to production, packaging and sales. She currently resides in Kasoa in the Central Region of Ghana and loves indoor activities, e.g. watching movies and football and playing games.
Justice Valentine Essuman
Mr. Essuman is the co-founder of Edanra, whose objective is to encourage affordable housing in Africa through digitization. They offer a platform and the opportunity to rent out houses, apartments and or hotels for short, mid or long term stays. Transitioning from a mere “Zongo boy” to having an early Robotics background, Justice, though currently a software engineer, has remained committed to coupling ideas with social impact. He is also the founder of ThinkWest, a STEM initiative in Takoradi, equipping young minds with knowledge and technological skills and has engaged in several projects, e.g. the Ashesi – Dartmouth Engineering Project and the Ashesi Goes Solar Project. Justice is a charismatic young man who loves swimming and is passionate about everything engineering-related.
Oliver Mensah is the founder of BrightField Academy, a social venture that seeks to offer coding training and a tech hub (that hosts regular events and meetups) for residents of Sefwi, grooming them to become tech ready for jobs in the industry or entrepreneurship via the startup route. In the future, they aim to become a centre for empowering students who work with technology and those with SMEs to scale up their businesses using software technology. Oliver is a software engineer who currently specializes in creating backend web services. He currently works remotely from Ghana with Future500 B.V in the Netherlands as a contract engineer. Apart from his day to day activities as a software engineer, he actively contributes to developer programs by technical blogging, speaking at tech events and organizing workshops.
Elona Boateng is the co-founder of Homebase, a premier mobile foodstuff market that moves across homes and offices offering foodstuff for sale, saving its customers the time and stress of visiting crowded markets. Elona is passionate about community development and contributing towards sustainable development goals and believes her work at HomeBase is an opportunity to contribute towards the achievement of SDG goals 2 and 3. Outside of work, she enjoys writing, mentoring kids, volunteering, and staying fit.
Mercy Chigabatia Wugaa
Madam Chigabatia Wugaa is the founder of Caraven Global, which produces 100% organic beauty soaps. Mercy runs the production of caraven soaps as well as the marketing and distributing of the product. She loves to read and engage with people about Jesus Christ and currently lives in Tokor in the Volta Region.
The Ashesi Venture Incubator, a programme of the NEXTi2i project (a collaboration between Ashesi University and MIT D-Lab) is a one-year incubation experience for recent graduates and alumni of Ashesi University.
AVI was designed with the intention of developing hybrid businesses that are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals because it is not enough to simply equip the new age of entrepreneurs with the skills needed to become profitable. To meet the urgent demand for sustainable development in emerging economies, businesses must also be in the position to deliver some level of social impact, be it through their supply chain processes, sourcing, or inclusive employment practices.
In a press statement, the institution explained that the 1-year programme, as part of the graduates’ national service, is customized for each fellow and designed to help them to develop their entrepreneurial skills and expertise.
“The AVI offers robust professional development, technical assistance and extra support, such as financial stipends. It also gives these young entrepreneurs the opportunity to work with Lean Research as well as renowned industry professionals via the AVI’s mentorship programme.”
“Last year we celebrated the passing of the Olympic torch from our first cohort (2019) to our second (2020) and now, we are proud to hail our third cohort (2021) for receiving the torch and lighting the Olympic cauldron. We use the metaphor of lighting the cauldron because this is the last year of the USAID-funded NEXTi2i Project and therefore lighting the Ashesi cauldron signifies the transition of AVI from NEXTi2i as a pilot program to be run as a substantive incubator program by the University. Thus, unlike their predecessors, this year’s cohort will be largely funded by Ashesi University through a Mastercard Foundation support program.”
As part of the transition, 5 out of the 19 AVI candidates for this year are fellows of the Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Entrepreneurship Fund (SEF) which supports Mastercard Scholars with funding for their business endeavours. The AVI gives them a more structured process for their venture development activities.
Over the course of 3 years, the Ashesi Venture Incubator has positively supported 26 businesses, 12 in the first year and 14 in the second year.
The official ‘Passing of the Torch Ceremony’ will take place virtually on the 26th of June, will be broadcast live via the institution’s social media platforms.