Kofi Yeboah is one of Ghana’s youngest advocate for social entrepreneur who has made name for himself and in the industry he works.
His articles and thoughtful comments have appeared in major international media outlets including The Guardian, Aljezeera and Global Voices Online. In this exclusive interview granted DAILYFAMILY, Kofi takes us through his passion, why he opted for social enterprise even after he studied Economics and Sociology in the University and why he has become so passionate about listening to people’s problem in a bid to proffer solution to them.
Can we meet you please?
I am Kofi Yeboah. I have an extensive corporate communications experience in the social enterprise sector. I work on the delivery of communications strategy through planning, development and the delivery of internal and external communications and managed marketing initiatives for for social enterprises. I have deep knowledge about developing marketing concepts and a thorough understanding of the lives of low income consumers.
I am a graduate of University of Cape Coast (UCC), studied Economics and Sociology, and a blogger.
I am also an active member of the Global Voices Online – an international community of bloggers who report on blogs and citizen media from all over the world. I write stories about the emerging technology development in Ghana and Africa.
I am an alumnus at the Amani Institute, Kenya – an institute that focuses on preparing next-generation talent to tackle global challenges by filling the gap between university and the workforce through a new approach.
Take us a bit into your educational background?
I had my first degree at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana, and read Economics and Sociology. I later did a short course at Amani Institute, Kenya, to learn more about social innovation and social entrepreneurship.
For the benefit of our readers, how best can you define Social Entrepreneurship?
Why have you been so loud about Social Entrepreneurship, considering the fact your discipline is Economics and Sociology?
Hahaha, I think back in the university, I was more interested in how humans act the way they do and Sociology gave me that opportunity to understand this concept. Also, I was keen on finding ways about how NGOs could be self-sustaining without extreme dependence on donor funds and still create the impact they want, social entrepreneurship is the best solution. I believe, with no doubt, that if donors, governments, private sector, etc wants to help solve problems, especially eradicate poverty, affecting people at the bottom of the pyramid, social entrepreneurship is one of the major keys. Social entrepreneurs are passionate people who understand the core problems of their target group and develop solutions with them.
Will you tell our readers who Sesinam Dagadu is?
Sesinam Dagadu is one of Ghana’s young innovators who developed Snoocode with his team. Snoocode is is a mobile app that uses a computer algorithm to generate a unique code – for any location – which then serves as an address.
During your conversation with Sesinam Dagadu you raised the question on why start-ups spring up in Ghana, but go extinct in about 3-5 years of operation. What will you say is the cause of this, considering the economic vibrancy project of Ken Ofori Atta?
The failure of many start-ups especially in Ghana is related to many factors. However, the issues of safety net, government support and leadership are key factors that will determine the stability of a start-up. My interactions with many start-up founders including Sesinam points out to these three factors. It will surprise you that, the failure factor has nothing to do with finance, that does not mean it is irrelevant, but it is not a major factor to the failure of a start-up.
From your personal assessment and evaluations, what do you think is the major challenge of start ups in Ghana?
I have answered above.
Can you tell us a bit about Amani Institute?
I think Amani Institute is one of the best schools in the world that has an all-round developed curriculum on social innovation and social entrepreneurship. Amani is also situated in one of the developed countries, Kenya, with regards to social innovation and entrepreneurship. Their educational model is phenomenal coupled with practical and realistic teaching methods. Their teaching staffs are well experienced in the field of social innovation and entrepreneurship.
How have you been affected by the training at the Institute?
Amani institute equipped with me a good understanding of the social entrepreneurship concept and equipped with the skills needed to work in this space (Social entrepreneurship). I have worked with very innovative social enterprises and consulted for some international organisations that are interested in the social enterprise sector in Ghana. The training at Amani contributed heavily to these opportunities that I have been fortunate to have.
How are you as a person advocating for a forward moving Africa with your Social Entrepreneurship projects?
I volunteered with GhanaThink Foundation, a social enterprise that focuses on and seek to mobilize and organize talent for the primary benefit of Ghana, of Africa and the whole world. I was the lead for their Barcamp Ghana project which also focuses on bringing young people interested in Ghana together for an informal networking forum where attendees share ideas, discuss interests, network and learn how to add value to their lives and make impact in their communities. With the support of the team, we were able to reach out to a number of young people, teaching them about the importance of social entrepreneurship and creating support systems for the survival of their social enterprises. Currently, I have been given another role specifically manage the Ghana Youth Social Entrepreneurship Programme under GhanaThink. My role is to create opportunities for young social entrepreneurs within our network and across Ghana to enable them to scale their initiatives. We have successfully run out first competition in partnership with a Canadian firm and currently working with 10 young social entrepreneurs in Ghana.
What are your plans for 2018 where social entrepreneurship is concerned?
I am personally looking forward to learning how digital communications can help social enterprises achieve their vision.
Can you tell us what Barcamp Ghana is all about?
Barcamp Ghana is one of the projects of GhanaThink Foundation which focuses on bringing young people interested in Ghana together for an informal networking forum where attendees share ideas, discuss interests, network and learn how to add value to their lives and make impact in their communities. We have helped over 10,000 young people equip themselves with relevant skills and finding opportunities since its inception in 2008.
What are the challenges of Social Entrepreneurship in Africa?
The challenges of social entrepreneurship are numerous, but there is still limited understanding of the concept. So many people operating social NGOs still think they are social entrepreneurs. We currently have limited number of private sector inclusion in the sector, we need more businesses to adopt the social entrepreneurship model to reach out to low-income consumers. How do we make money as a business whilst making sure that our consumers live long by investing in their health care, creating innovative sanitation solutions to help reduce pen defecation which in the long term increases the life of consumers to spend more.
You were at The Way Africa forum 2014 in Nigeria. What was your resolution on possible solution to joblessness among youth in Africa?
My project focused on assisting African graduates gain experience within international organizations in another country other than their home country. I believe that in doing so, in the long-term Africa‘s presence in the international workforce will grow and ensure we have some influence on global policies.