At a time where money comes above charitableness, very few – like Ghanaian Patrick Awuah – are sacrificing it to make a difference. Mr Awuah has given up the dollar to go back to Africa where he wants to make a difference.
After living in America for almost two decades, Patrick Awuah left his job at Microsoft where he earned millions as program manager, to set up Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana. His intention, he says, is to educate young Africans.
“If the current leadership core was educated a certain way, if they were problem-solvers, if they had deep compassion for society, we would be in a different place,” he explained.
In his TED Global talk back in 2007, Mr Awuah explained his call to educate Africa’s future leaders, and why he believes this is very important.
A few years after his sixteenth birthday, Mr Awuah left Ghana to attend Swarthmore College in the United States.
Although he got high marks for his understanding of basic economics in his economic classes at Swarthmore, he realised that the leaders and managers of Ghana’s economy were making really bad decisions. He believes that some of them had fuelled the near-collapse of the country’s economy. “And so here was this lesson again – leadership matters. It matters a great deal,” he explained.
It was after he started working at Microsoft Corporation that he realised “The ability to confront complex problems, and to design solutions to those problems. The ability to create is the most empowering thing that can happen to an individual”.
Mr Awuah became a parent at Microsoft. The thought of his children’s perception of Africa in comparison to the rest of the world, instigated a desire to return home and change the overwhelming narrative portrayed about the continent. He was determined to contribute towards the Africa’s development.
On his return, Mr Awuah found out that there were three problems: corruption, weak institutions, and the people who run them – the leaders. He asked two very important questions: where are these leaders coming from? What is it about Ghana that produces leaders that are unethical or unable to solve problems?
The need to solve these problems led to the conception and birth of Ashesi University – an institution launched to develop young African leaders.
“What Ashesi University is trying to do, is to train a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders. To confront the complex problems, ask the right questions, and come up with workable solutions.”
The university began with 30 students in 2002 in a rented building. Today the university campus – with an academic curriculum mixture of Liberal Arts and Sciences – is on a 100 acre land near Aburi, with over 500 students.