In 2017, the GhanaThink Foundation organized the Ghana Youth Social Entrepreneurship Competition (GYSEC) in partnership with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT). It was promoted as #GYSEC2017. 20 budding social entrepreneurs were chosen out of 154 applications to learn, be trained, and compete. They were and are referred to as trainees. In 2018, GYSEC has become a 4th program for GhanaThink after Barcamp Ghana, Junior Camp Ghana, Ghana Volunteer Program and was renamed the Ghana Youth Social Entrepreneurship Program (GYSEP). 24 budding social entrepreneurs were chosen out of 220 applications to learn and be trained.
Those selected for #GYSEP2018 were — Francis Oko Armah, Desmond Agbleke, Nii Aruna Nelson, Bright Bruce-Acquaye, Joshua Kumi, Constant Komla Likudie, Abdul Wahab M. Kannde, Lukman Abubakari, Michael Sedinam Tenu, Simeon Martey, Rejoice Dufe, Doreen Sena Aglago-Cofie, Queen Frimpong, Yaa Yeboaa Adu, Porschia Gaisie, Adjoa Amponfi, Yvette Kokui Akuavi Dorm Kondoh, Iris Kwafo-Mensah, Paulina Arthur, Emily Esenam Bansah, Samuel Wilson, Eleanor Asare, William Abrefa, and Sampson Wolanyo Deklu.
The program and training began with an obligatory welcome workshop on Saturday and Sunday (June 30 — July 1) at the Impact Hub Accra (starting at 9am and ending at 6pm each day). Ato Ulzen-Appiah facilitated this workshop with the assistance of Maccharty Mac-Gbathy. Kofi Yeboah skyped in from Canada and shared a few thoughts. Fawziyya Issah assisted Marian Adeaba and Richmond Anane with logistics. GhanaThink was used as an example of a social enterprise, and how it made a transition from an NGO to a social enterprise. Ato shared about GhanaThink’s various programs, how it raises revenue, and differentiated between its beneficiaries and customers. Isaac Sesi and Nana Yaa Ayim who were part of the program in 2017 came by to share their experiences from the program, etc. Rachel Hormeku (the Social Innovation Program Community Facilitator) did a presentation on SIP and also led an icebreaker. She also did a presentation on Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) and the Impactathon community on Facebook.
The middle workshop was from July 21–22 (9am to 6pm each day), at Hopin Academy in Tamale. Ato Ulzen-Appiah facilitated this workshop with the assistance of Maccharty Mac-Gbathy. Kofi Yeboah skyped in from Canada and shared a few thoughts as usual. Fawziyya Issah handled logistics and was assisted by Marian Adeaba while Richmond Anane handled all finance aspects. Esperanza Yakubu assisted Marian to provide and set up materials for individual and group exercises. Saraswati Efua Arthur who was part of the program in 2017 came by to share her experiences from the program. She championed the importance of keeping the network formed from the program and shared examples of how the network (and GhanaThink) has helped her thrive, honed her idea, and grown her entreprise.
The program’s final workshop was on Saturday August 11 and Sunday August 12 at Impact Hub Accra. Ato Ulzen-Appiah facilitated this workshop with the assistance of Maccharty Mac-Gbathy. Fawziyya Issah assisted Marian Adeaba and Richmond Anane with logistics. The trainees were trained and prepared for the MVP Prototype Fair (Pitch competition). Ivy Barley, Enam Agbozo and Isaac Sesi who were all part of the program in 2017 were present to help the current class work on their pitches.
On Sunday, August 12, the trainees continued to work on the pitches. Ato Ulzen-Appiah and Maccharthy Mac-Gbathy were on hand to guide them through their pitches. Esperanza Yakubu who had taken over from Rachel Hormeku as the Social Innovation Program Community Facilitator spoke about Digital Opportunity Trust -DOT’s SIP. The finale itself featured a number of participant submissions. Jackson Nyarko and Dominic Kepomey who were part of the 2017 class were also on hand to share experiences and advice.
The finale (final ceremony) happened on August 12. Maccharthy Mac-Gbathy emceed the event. Masuma Khan (DOT Project Manager) and Kofi Yeboah (a team member) joined in via Skype from different parts of Canada. Masuma shared her excitement in seeing the program grow and it getting to its final stages and wished the trainees luck. Kofi Yeboah compared this year’s program to last year’s, encouraged the trainees to give great accounts of themselves and their learning as well.
The pitches were great but a few stood out. The trainees leveraged various learning modules to prepare and present their pitch. The judges were Nehemiah Attigah (Hatua Tec + GhanaThink), Amma Sefah-Dede Lartey (Social Entrepreneurs Ghana + Reach For Change), Kafui Anson-Yevu (Impact Hub Accra + Women TechMakers), Cherubim Mawuli Amenyedor (Ho Node + #GYSEC2017), The judges used an MVP Evaluation Checklist sheet to score each of the 21 trainees who pitched and also provided feedback. Amma Sefa-Dedeh Lartey gave some general feedback on the pitches and presentations to the trainees in the midst of the audience afterwards. The top 3 places (with cash prizes) were won by 1st — Doreen Aglago-Cofie of Heighten Up — ₵1000, 2nd — Abdul Ehm Kannde of Starna Labs — ₵800, 3rd — Proschia Gaisie of Let’s Share — ₵600.
The 6 trainees chosen to represent Ghana at the DOT Unconference in October 2018 in Kenya were also announced. The 6 are in no particular order — Proschia Gaisie (Let’s Share), Emily Bansah (Solar Barter), Doreen Aglago-Cofie (Heighten Up), Bright Bruce Acquaye (TGYC), Simeon Martey (Tamale Children Hub), Michael Sedinam Tenu (XCel Packs). We affectionately call these 6 — Team K. All the 24 trainees are to receive certificates of participation. Their portrait links were updated on Facebook as part of the final workshop.