Faith Knutsen, Associate Director of TechGROWTH Ohio, visited Dr. Uzuegbunam’s Ideation class and gave a presentation on a few social entrepreneurs from Africa. Along with hearing from these entrepreneurs via skype, students were also able to hear from a local entrepreneur, Megen Weber. After a brief introduction about social entrepreneurs, Knutsen prompted Weber to talk about her experiences as a local entrepreneur.
Weber currently runs a preschool which is located in The Plains, Ohio. This preschool is currently run by 9 staff members, all of which are in charge of teaching a group of roughly 40 children. Weber started out working at a private school, located in the same area, until it was later closed. When the school shut down, many parents were concerned for their children’s education. Weber saw there was a clear problem, and wanted to solve it. Weber used this example of her business and explained how individuals could look more locally when they are trying to solve a problem, instead of trying to solve problems on a national level.
“When starting a business, the most important thing is that you have a whole lot of initiative. The process is going to be all consuming and require a great deal of your time and energy”, said Weber.
After Weber concluded her speech, Knutsen gave a presentation on one of the African Entrepreneurs, as there were some technical difficulties with Skype. Lucy Athieno was an impoverished Ugandan woman who saw that basic sanitary supplies were unavailable in her area. She said that often girls were forced to miss school when their monthly cycle came around. Athieno saw that when these girls missed school, they were missing out on education opportunities. She didn’t want these girls to be held back because of a natural bodily function. She then designed a sanitary pad that could be locally made, which made it very inexpensive. Once she created the product, it was then shipped out to local schools which helped girls achieve a higher attendance rate and also learn more about their bodies.
Next up to speak was Kakel Mbumb, an agricultural entrepreneur from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mbumb focused on agriculture because 80% of the region he lives in is rural, and the agricultural produce was being undermined by imports from other countries. Eventually he decided to expand his area of focus to youth and digital connectivity. Now, Mbumb wants to work towards helping people gain access to electricity and the internet.
“This way they can gain more knowledge about what they are doing”, said Mbumb.
Mbumb also wants to improve literacy levels in youth, so that way they can actually access the internet and eventually gain more knowledge. Mbumb believes that this integrated process will greatly help youth in his area, and it will also allow him to keep a closer eye on every aspect of his organizations.
The last person to speak was Alfred Godwin Adjabeng, another agricultural entrepreneur that works to improve the food security problems in schools in Ghana. Adjabeng works as a director in his organization to reach out to other communities to gain support for his program. The program aims to gather community support and after which they will provide a small amount of land which will be set aside for the school growing zone. This way, schools have the ability to produce the food that their students eat. They also support government work, which contributes to 40% of the food security in the region. He said that the government works to provide subsidized settings to make sure the crops do well.
“Our definition of success is seeing the school attendance rate rise. Our program greatly benefits the youth and we have seen tremendous growth in the attendance rates of the schools that support our program,” said Adjabeng.
Overall, the event was a huge success. Students were able to hear from entrepreneurs from around the world and gain more knowledge on how to solve problems at a local level. They were also able to learn a little bit more about various problems that people face outside of the United States. Make sure to stay tuned to our blog for more information about upcoming events!