Making a Difference

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ashesi University, Accra, Ghana

Patrick Awuah left his native Ghana to attend Swarthmore College in the USA. Upon graduation, he was hired by Microsoft where he worked for some years. But, he always wanted to do something for his country. So, in 1997 he left Microsoft to pursue an MBA at Haas. But his objective wasn't simply to get a degree. It was to prepare himself to establish a private, not for profit, university, in Accra, that combined a sound liberal arts foundation with specialities in computer science and business.

In 1998 Patrick enlisted a team of classmates from the IBD program at Haas to carry out a feasibility study of his dream. Based on their findings, he and Nina Marini, a classmate, established the Ashesi Foundation in Seattle. After a few years of fund-raising and preparatory work, they established Ashesi University ( Since then, Ashesi has become a model for higher education and leadership development in Ghana and for Africa. It has graduated three classes and is gaining recognition for its approach to the development of the next generation of leaders. Cited in White Man's Burden, by William Easterly as one of the best examples of what can be accomplished in Africa, Ashesi is posed to make a great contribution, not only to Ghana, but to the world.

I have been pleased to be able to serve on Ashesi's advisory board. As well, since that first IBD team, almost every year a new team from the IBD program has helped Ashesi on some aspect or other of their planning and operations.