Community Champion: Solving Africa’s problems, What can 1Billion Africa Do?
Several centuries ago, Niccolo Machiavelli forewarned: “When one asks a powerful neighbor to come to aid and defend one with his forces…These forces may be good in themselves, but they are always dangerous for those who borrow them, for if they lose you are defeated, and if they conquer you remain their prisoner.”
Now young Africans are stepping up to solving the continent’s problems themselves, debunking the reliance on aids and working with the phrase: “African solutions for African problems”.
In Ghana, one young man has taken it upon himself to work with other youths to solve Africa’s problem by turning them into projects and solving them one project at a time.
Growing up as a young Ghanaian in a urban-rural community in Accra, Prince Adu-Appiah have seen how poverty can rob people of their basic rights and privileges and how bad leadership have devastated communities and rendered many deprived. This deplorable state of underdevelopment coupled with his passion for change eventually led to his creation of 1Billion Africa (1BA).
1BA is a problem solving international NGO with the mission to alleviate poverty and empower Africans especially the youth and children by turning problems into projects. The organisation works by carrying out projects, advocacy and support services in deprived communities by identifying their problems in the areas of leadership empowerment, education, agriculture, technology, health and environment.
“We turn them into projects, one at a time, to empower others to also adopt problem solving mindsets and to solve prevalent problems in their lives and communities. We run advocacies to inspire people to act and not just talk and we provide support services for potential change makers through consulting, mentorship and online support,” Prince explained.
“Our message is; if there are 1 billion problems in Africa, there are also 1 billion Africans who can turn these problems around to make Africa a better place,” he added.
Although Prince has a day-job as an IT Manager in a Project Management company in Ghana, his journey into creating 1Billion Africa wasn’t accidental; he has been working in the development field for quite some time as a volunteer.
Hear him: “I began working in this sector as a volunteer in community service and social work. I devoted most moments of school’s extra curricula activities volunteering; visiting village schools to empower the students to study hard, empowering youth to adopt best practices to cause change in their communities, developing innovative activities in school to help students pursue personal development, engaging in social campaigns, community sanitation activities, etc. This background experience prior to 1BA makes us (he and his team) now appreciate the work we do, because we have seen results of previous works and it is inspiring.”
To date, 1BA has worked in 8 communities physically, but its advocacies have reached more communities and have impacted over 3,500 youth and children in Ghana. In the future, it hopes to impact 1million youth and children by 2020.
1BA is currently executing its Go Empower Schools Project 1 & 2 in 2 regions in Ghana, Brong Ahafo and Eastern. The first segment of the project was carried out in Subriso Community in a district that recorded the highest teenage pregnancy in Ghana in 2014. The youth and children forgo education and engage in illegal mining activities. 1BA went to promote quality education and increase enrollment by donating educational materials. The team also spoke with the teachers to empower them, as well as parents on the importance of education. The second is coming off soon in a community called Agyemanti.
However, carrying out these laudable projects hasn’t been without one or two challenges. According to Prince, building a team who share the 1BA vision and funding have been the major challenges faced by the organisation.
“Funding initial projects was really challenging but we learnt the principle that whenever you start something new funding will be difficult, because those who can fund you would want to see you do it first. So you need to find a way to make it work to get their support for future projects,” he said.
Nevertheless, he says his team has been able to apply innovative practices to empower youth and children in deprived communities. He also said: “Our impact and results. Every last project we do motivates us to do better in the next. Seeing smiles and hope in the faces of youth and children is a priceless sight.”
In the future, by 2025, Prince hopes to see 1BA established in the 54 African States and with passionate and determined teams on the ground who hold development of African communities in high esteem.
To other young people hoping to do similar social development work like 1BA, Prince says: “Genuinely ask yourself why you want to do this. Let your motivation be the passion to serve, love for the people and the desire for change. In return, development projects will bring out the leader in you, develop many skills in you and prepare you for even greater opportunities in life. Read wide, find mentors already on the journey and be a person of action and not just a talker.”