Social Entrepreneur of the month – January 2023

1. Briefly tell us about yourself and your organisation.

My name is Erasmus Mensah-Ackon. The name of my organisation is Duapa Werkspace. It is a skills development and entrepreneurship hub located in the western region of Ghana. Our sole aim is to help in reducing youth unemployment through various capacity-building programs that empower the youth to gain employable and entrepreneurial skills.

At Duapa Werkspace, we create an enabling environment for both potential and young entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and transform their ideas into viable businesses.  As a means of supporting startups, we provide affordable and creative co-working and event space, training, and business development support services.

 

2. What motivated you to start your social enterprise?

Well, personally, I don’t see business as opportunity to make money but as an opportunity to solve societal problems. I worked as banker for six years and developed my interest in software development during this time. However, prior to joining the bank, I was unemployed for some time as I was unable to secure a job due to my lack of computer literacy skills.

A bank offered me a job and a chance to train on how to use the computer to enable me work as an account officer.  That is how I got the opportunity to use the computer for the first time!

I was keen on developing my skills in operating it because of how important it is to employers. This was where my interest in computing first developed and I started learning coding and ended up becoming a software developer specialised in developing financial management systems for microfinance, micro credit, and credit union. I started offering my services beyond Ghana, reaching countries such as Guinea Bissau.

Looking back, I realised that I was given a chance to develop computer literacy skills for FREE and I decided to also give back. So, in 2009, I left the banking job and started working on my software development project full time. I decided to also incorporate the training of children to acquire computing skills for free, which led to a project called “IT4Teens” in 2013.

The children’s project was later scaled up into a Hub, which now became Duapa Werkspace, an organization dedicated to training children and adults on computer literacy skills development and entrepreneurship.

3. So far what has been the impact of your social enterprise?

In addition to providing skills development and entrepreneurship support, we do skills training in the areas of mobile app development, web design, dressmaking and leather works, business incubation and acceleration.

Through a partnership with SNV Ghana, we have been able to incubate 20 SMEs under the “GrEEn Incubation project” out of which four of the SMEs were assisted to apply and successfully win the GrEEn Innovation fund amounting to GHS620,000.00. These SMEs have been able to improve their business and created jobs for young people within their communities.

We also collaborated with an organization known as “GIZ can” to organize a Business Idea competition in the Western region, which led to 40 young entrepreneurs being awarded various equipments for free.

Our collaboration with Ghana TechLab has also seen over 80 young people trained in both Mobile App and Web design. 60% of these beneficiaries were female.

The dressmaking and leather training has equipped 32 young people between the ages of 18-35 with such creative skills and the majority of the trainees are currently self-employed, while the rest have been able to gain employment through our internship and job placement programs.  Additionally, through our flagship program “Startup Takoradi” (Entrepreneurship Forum) we have been able to instil an entrepreneurial mindset in over 200 young people. In other to promote student entrepreneurship, we have collaborated with Takoradi Technical University to establish an Incubation hub on campus and the hub is currently working with about 40 students on various projects.

4. What are the major challenges you’re currently facing in your social enterprise?

My major challenge has been building more partnerships with other ecosystem players.

We have been able to secure a few partners, but we need more. One major reason is Duapa Werkspace is still young, and most organizations want partnerships with organizations that have been in existence for some time.

Duapa Werkspace needs more partnerships with organizations that seek to address our target audience. I believe that by partnering with us, we can jointly expand the scale of our impact.

 

5. Mention one big change you would like to see in your line of work e.g. policy change, behaviour change, institutional support, more collaborations etc

Collaboration is key. We are very open to collaborate with other social entrepreneurs. Our main goal at Duapa Werkspace is to be and remain sustainable and collaboration is crucial in realising this goal at the economic, social and environmental level.

 

6. Do you have a final message for a budding social entrepreneur who is interested in your field of work?

We cannot rely on the government alone to reduce the high rate of youth unemployment. Only by working together can we truly build a strong ecosystem that supports social entrepreneurs addressing social issues in any part of Africa.  Let us connect, collaborate and Scale together!

 

Connect with Duapa Werkspace via:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

4 − 2 =

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Related Post

Raju Kendre

Founder and CEO, Eklavya India Foundation.

Raju Kendre, a Social Entrepreneur, Hailing from a nomadic tribal family in Vidarbha, where his parents did not even finish primary education. Raju Kendre’s journey to becoming a social entrepreneur is all the more remarkable. Raju’s own lived experience inspires him to found Eklavya India Foundation in 2017. The Foundation’s mission is to promote higher education and leadership in first-generation learners, Over the last six years, Eklavya India Foundation has made a significant impact by conducting career awareness workshops for 25,000 students from rural and tribal regions and enabling 1200 first-generation learners to gain admission into around sixty top-notch universities and fellowship programmes. The Foundation has also provided a cumulative 0.7 Million hours of mentorship and career guidance in the last six years.

He holds a Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences and recently completed his MSc in Development Studies at the prestigious SOAS, University of London, on the prestigious Chevening Scholarship offered by the FCDO, UK. During his time in London, Raju realized the under-representation of underrepresented groups in world-class universities and global scholarships, which led him to start the Global Scholars Program. The program trains 60+ first-generation students in its pilot batch for a year, with the goal of producing at least 2000 Global Scholars in the next decade. Raju aims to create global leaders from marginalized communities with empathy and social justice vision.

Amandine Robin

Innovation Advisor and Design Thinker

Dr Amandine Robin is the founder and Managing director of MATTERS – a strategic innovation lab accompanying companies from building a culture of innovation to designing products or services, to defining a transformative innovation strategy. Passionate about education, Amandine also co-founded AI in Africa in 2019, an NPO which aims to empower the youth to be change makers and solve society problems.  Before creating MATTERS, Amandine was a lecturer and researcher in Applied Mathematics in France and South Africa (University of the Witwatersrand).

Amandine brings a unique blend of expertise combining rigour and creativity, design thinking and research, entrepreneurship and academy. Amandine works across sectors, leading cross-disciplinary teams from the definition of a good problem to prototyping, navigating from a holistic vision to a fine level of details to ensure consistency at every level. She likes to question and bring people to think differently and to push the limits.

Jassim Haji

President

International Group of Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Haji is a veteran in the field Information and Communications Technology with over 3 decades of robust experience in implementing IT strategies to move applications/infrastructure, formulating vision, improving vision/culture, innovation and change management . With hands on expertise in reorganizing operations, managing core infrastructure including servers, storage, network, collaboration, application, middleware products. Deft in IT infrastructure management, management of heterogeneous networks, information security and service delivery as well as IT regulatory compliance. He has proven ability to affect transformational change across a range of operational areas and create a sustainable difference to a business’s operational performance.

Dr Haji has managed large scale delivery assignments for various platform technologies coupled with established credibility in providing domain support for managing operations round the clock while establishing command center and security operation.

He continuously conducts research on Artificial Intelligence and Organizational Change, exemplified by his publications on latest technologies and how they can be leveraged operationally and economically in organizations. He lead the entire Information Technology department in Gulf Air and has implemented numerous cutting edge projects and technologies. He has managed to achieve over 40 prestigious awards including 15 distinguished CIOs (Chief Information Officer). He formerly served on the board of directors of a leading hospitality and tourism technology provider in the Middle East and on SITA Council representing Middle East and North Africa. He has the ability to implement processes for improving IT Services entailing continual service improvement, service operations, service transition and service design & strategy.

Register Here

Adeyemi Adelekan

Convener, African Social Enterprise Workshop (ASEW)

Dr. Adeyemi Adelekan is a Research Associate at the University of Manchester (UoM) and a Research Fellow at the Centre for Understanding Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). He carries out research on social enterprises, sustainable business models, circular economy and behavior change in both the Global North and South.

Prior to his engagement at UoM, Adeyemi obtained a PhD from Middlesex University London, with research that explored social enterprise strategies for the circular economy in Lagos. He also has an MBA from the University of Salford, where his research won the Dean’s Award for Excellence in the Business Innovation Live Project category for the year 2015.

Adeyemi believes social enterprises have a critical role to play in Africa’s sustainable development. He co-convened the first ASEW in 2019 while carrying out fieldwork in Lagos, where he witnessed first-hand the impact self-identified social enterprises are having in and beyond their communities, sometimes with little or no resources. His interest lies in how they can organize better, strategically navigate the tensions to meet commercial, social and/or environmental objectives, while scaling their impact.

Adeyemi’s professional experience also spans across business management, administration, and IT consulting both in Nigeria and in the UK.

Ronita Ghosh

President, World Chamber for Social Business & Co-convener, ASEW 5th Edition.

A post-graduate in Social Entrepreneurship & Global Sustainability from the Catholic University of Milan, Ronita is a social entrepreneur, having worked extensively in Africa on UN-related projects for over 11 years. Ronita started Jikoni Foundation in India, which works toward Food & Nutrition Security. She has worked for various causes, including serving free 1 million+ fresh meals during the Covid-19 pandemic, carrying flood relief work in India, nutrition security project for pre/post-natal women, and livelihood initiatives through the revival of the lost art of traditional quilt-making – #TheQuiltProject. 

Apart from heading the World Chamber for Social Business, she consults several non-profit initiatives and liaisons with governments for policy advocacy. For her efforts, Ronita has been awarded and recognized by several media publications globally.

Theodora Chimonez

Founder/ Chief of Product Matchimoni Limited

Theodora, most often referred to as Theo, is one of the strongest advocates for Design Thinking Processes & Product-led growth in Organizations. She has worked across several industries- E-commerce, Fintech, Travel-Tech, Hospitality Tech, EdTech, and more recently in Social Enterprise. Along with her Matchimoni Co-Founder, Theo is building a Product that is going to change the Matchmaking Industry globally.

Akin Alabi

Co-Founder & CEO, Corporate Farmers International

Akinwale is an experienced farm management executive, agribusiness coach, agricultural technology consultant and conference speaker. His passion for Agriculture began over 20 years ago when he created a dynamic way of how the youths can see Agriculture differently using the power of Digitisation and created an award-winning blog named the Corporate Farmers Blog. This led him to co-found Corporate Farmers International Limited (www.corporatefarmers.tv), an agricultural consulting and farm management company which has worked on multi-million-naira farm projects and in partnerships with several organisations and state government in Nigeria. 

In addition to his role as the Chief Executive Officer for the company, he leads the media and innovation teams to develop agribusiness initiatives and innovative platforms and worked with top Honourable Ministers, Commissioners and professionals in the industry to develop plans for the future of Agriculture in Nigeria especially as it affect the youth.

Kasapo Manda

Country Director, 2nd Door Zambia.

Kasapo, the Country Director and Co-Founder of 2nd Door Zambia, is a driving force behind its strategic management. With a keen focus on strategic management and a passion for sustainability, she guides businesses to operate more responsibly and create a meaningful impact on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). By integrating the SDGs into their operations and corporate social investments, she facilitates their efforts towards a better future. Kasapo is an esteemed authority in social investment, effectively mobilising resources and building capacity for community-based organisations through powerful collaborations with the private sector. 

Furthermore, Kasapo’s influence extends beyond organizational boundaries as she serves as the Co-Chair for the African Youth SDGs Summit. Her unwavering commitment lies in empowering young people to actively participate in the implementation, monitoring, and accountability of the SDGs in Africa. Recognizing her remarkable contributions, Kasapo was honoured with the prestigious African Youth SDGs Achievers Award for Female Leadership of the Year in 2022.

Moses Kanyesigye

Moses Kanyesigye

Joint Program Coordinator, Youth in business, trade and enterprise,  Youlead Africa & East African Business Council

Moses is a trade economist, with 10 years of experience in designing Youth business-led programs and projects. He is currently coordinating joint programs at Youlead Africa, East African Business Council, and the East African Community Secretariat and he has experience in regional and continental trade and market. He has lived and worked mostly in Eastern and southern parts of Africa.

Socrates Kraido Majune

Socrates Kraido Majune

Lecturer, Department of Economics and Development Studies, University of Nairobi.

Dr. Socrates Majune, a Kenyan national, is a Lecturer at the Department of Economics and Development Studies, University of Nairobi. He is also a 2022 Young Professional at the World Trade Organization. He was the inaugural winner of the World Trade Organization’s Trade Economist Thematic Award in 2020. He was also one of the recipients of the Wallace E. Tyner award by the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) in 2021 and runners-up for the 2022 best paper award in the Second Young Scholars Conference on Structural Change and Industrial Policy in Africa. 

He specializes in International Trade and the History of Economic Thought, of which he has published journal papers on export survival, trade facilitation, trade in services and economic thought. He has also conducted several international trade-related consultancies for organizations such as the World Bank. Besides academics, Socrates is a Professional Athlete specializing in sprints.

Olumayowa Okediran

Olumayowa Okediran

Director of Programs, Students For Liberty.

Olumayowa Okediran is the Director of Programs at Students For Liberty where he oversees a diverse portfolio of programs and projects spanning 100+ countries. He is a member of the council at the South African Institute of Race Relations and has served as Managing Director of African Liberty. He holds a master’s degree in Humanitarian and Refugee Studies and an Executive Master of Business Administration. He is the Author of Navigate: A Prospection of Nigeria’s Future to 2030.