Ashesi University in Ghana was the idea of U.C. Berkeley graduate Patrick Awuah. A former Microsoft employee, he decided to change his career after his son was born, "I felt I really needed to return to Africa and I needed to be part of the solution in Africa for the sake of the next generation and the generations after that," Awuah said.
Ashesi means "beginnings" in the African language Twi. The Haas School of Business at Cal had a lot to do with creating this university, "MBA students joined me to do the feasibility study, to do the business planning for it. And finally faculty at Berkeley were critical in formulating the curriculum," Awuah said." Keep in mind, 20 years ago Ghana had only three universities.
Awuah started small, with just 30 students ten years ago. Today, thanks to his tenacity and the generosity of philanthropists in the United States, there are 600 students on a new, larger campus. The Cal graduate's goal was not only to educate students, but to also create change in a region bogged down in government corruption.
"To be successful one needs to be ethical, that they were going to be successful because they had integrity, not in spite of it," Awuah said. "Because if you think of it, if someone is running a bank, who do they want to hire? They want to hire ethical people." To date, 350 students have graduated from Ashesi University, "Most importantly we are giving hope to the next generation and they are going to change the world. I feel very confident about this," Awuah said.
By the way his son, who inspired him to change his life, is now 17-years-old and part of the next generation of Ghanaians.