The BYU-Hawaii Enactus team will visit the Republic of Congo at the end of the Fall Semester to present crowdfunding to the Congolese people as a sustainable way to raise money and fuel their dreams.
Team member Hiba Arkoh, a junior in hospitality management and information technology from Ghana, said her passion and life goal is to help and uplift the people of Africa. Referencing a favorite quote of hers, she shared: “Helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world of one person.”
She explained her hope is that teaching crowdfunding in Africa will help to uplift skilled entrepreneurs from poverty.
Paul Wilson, a professor of entrepreneurship, explained how crowdfunding has a great potential to help the people of Africa to empower their dreams. “Crowdfunding is the next evolution of entrepreneurship. Historically when you raised funds, you went to a few with a lot of money, while crowdfunding is going to the many who don’t have a lot of money individually but collectively have a lot.
“A few years back we had a student who raised $100,000 for his company while he was in school through crowdfunding.”
Prince Owusu, a senior in political science from Ghana, described this opportunity as a way to help people achieve their dreams in expanding their projects and becoming more economically self-sufficient.
“I decided to join the project because I am more of an activist. I want a change in society. There are people that have talent but don’t have the means to get their talent out there. I want to make a difference in their lives,” said Owusu.
Hiba explained the lack of opportunities individuals have to share and profit from their talents. “Back home there are so many individuals that are so talented at sewing, making jewelry, and creating art.”
One of the projects the team is working on is an IndieGogo page to raise funds for Patience, a 22-year-old college student in Ghana who wants to start a jewelry company that makes beads. In a video describing her business, Patience says she is "focused on preserving the local culture - at the same time, gearing it into modernization and also merging into other cultures like Asia, Europe, [and] South America."
"I love to come up with ideas and be creative. ... Gradually I have gotten to stage where beading does not belong to a particular location or [is] limited to Africa."
Gaby Porras, a senior in business marketing from Colorado and the Congo project manager, said, “Ultimately, our project is about entrepreneurs, and their families are helping them to reach their potential.”
Porras explained the ultimate goal of the project was not only empowering the entrepreneurs in Congo, but also empowering BYUH students from Africa in making a change in their own countries.
Hiba explained the excitement she had when she heard of the opportunity to go to Africa to help. “Basically, whenever I hear people talk about helping Africa, I get so excited. They are my people! I am willing to put in whatever I can to help my people.”
Explaining her reason for participating in this project, Porras said, “I am really excited about creating positive change and facilitating positive change. When I had the opportunity to step up and help with this project and saw the potential to influence a positive change, I took it.”
Owusu said, “It is us today, but we need everyone to be involved to help us to realize this dream. By helping one person, it makes a difference.”
The team is made up of five BYU-Hawaii students: Arkoh; Porras; Owusu; Spencer Weenig, a sophomore from California studying entrepreneurship; and Aaron Shields, a freshman studying entrepreneurship from Utah.
The Dream Initiative's IndieGogo page can be found at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-dream-initiative-patience-s-beads#/. NOTE: Clicking on the link will take you away from the Ke Alaka'i and BYU-Hawaii website. The Ke Alaka'i and BYU-Hawaii do not endorse or support anything in the link.