ASA-Program Intern shares her entrepreneurship ride and invites you to join in
Regina Christina Andoh, ASA-Program intern at SEED, shares her adventures in entrepreneurship and motivation for joining SEED in Germany and South Africa.
From my perspective, as individuals in society, we cannot always depend on the government to provide us with incentives to improve the welfare of our community. Rather, it is also paramount that we become proactive and work collectively with people around us to help solve some of the social and environmental problems for which the solutions lie within our means; thus take up collective self-help-initiatives.
I am Regina Christina Andoh, ASA Fellow 2018 and MBA Candidate at the University of Leipzig’s International Small Enterprise Promotion and Training Program (SEPT). The international practical experiences through my involvement in the private sector and public organisations engaged in entrepreneurship promotion encouraged me to make use of this knowledge in my studies. I gained a strong interest in Small and Medium Size Enterprise (SMEs) Development, particularly in a developing context, having come to the understanding that socio-economic development could be achieved in my country (Ghana) if the SMEs sector could be promoted and developed to absorb the growing unemployed youth; a menace faced by Ghana.
Why social and environmental entrepreneurship?
Throughout my enterprise promotion engagements – motivating people here and there to exploit opportunities for profitable endeavours –, I came to the realisation that although business is the lifeblood of thriving economies, not all the business activities were environmentally friendly or put people’s livelihood improvements at the heart of it all. As such, I developed the passion for and continue to spend most of my days actively engaged in social entrepreneurship training activities based on my personal belief that entrepreneurs have the capacity to develop innovative approaches to tackle our social problems to improve the welfare of people in my community. Developing prototypes for business plans and finding spots in operational plans to incorporate disabled people in the community are the two main activities I enjoyed the most during my engagement in such activities.
Against this background, I have always sought for opportunities to engage and volunteer at organizations who share the common interest in promoting sustainable entrepreneurship and development projects. Relocating to Germany to pursue a master’s degree in Small Enterprise Promotion and Training Program enlightened my understanding of sustainable entrepreneurship and aroused my enthusiasm even more, hence my motivation for applying to the ASA-Program which brought me to SEED. Undertaking an internship presents the opportunity for new learning and knowledge exchange. Thanks to ASA, I was offered a position at adelphi research to assist with ‘Strengthening Social and Ecological Entrepreneurship’ with a special focus on South Africa, a project implemented by the SEED initiative.
ASA-Program Interns at SEED
The ASA-Program is a dynamic learning program based in Germany which trains young people who are open-minded and interested in development cooperation and social and political issues. The ASA-Program promotes exchange and learning about our One World through personal experience. It supports young and dedicated people to expand their skills and to contribute to sustainable global development based on respect for human rights and cultural differences. The program aims to make an effective contribution towards connecting young people from Germany and partner organisations in developing countries to foster global learning partnerships and fruitful collaboration between the German Federal Republic and emerging economies.
SEED has hosted ASA-Program interns since 2016. Past interns assisted with the implementation of SEED projects in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. ASA-Program interns at SEED spend three months in Germany followed by a three months experimental project internship in a country in Africa. After ASA-Program interns return from their three-month placement, they carry out global education activities in Germany. During these activities, former interns share their understandings of global interdependencies while lobbying for fair and sustainable development.
SEED motivates us all to innovate
Indeed, I must say that SEED beats my expectations! Interestingly, this project focuses exclusively on promoting entrepreneurship which impacts positively on society and the environment. The initiative specifically targets and builds the capacity of prospective entrepreneurs and existing SMEs who have ecological and social targets at the core of their business models to operationalize or scale up. This focus is directly related to my program of study and my continued personal interest in using market-based solutions to alleviate social problems.
Primarily, I enjoy the practice and research-oriented nature of the SEED project, which helps me to keep up with changing trends and new innovative approaches for SME and entrepreneurship promotion. For instance, I am very much impressed with SEED as it works to ensure the survival of these enterprises through personalized business development services. One way it does this is by strengthening the entrepreneurial ecosystem and capacity of BDS (business development service) providers to support the operations of the eco-inclusive entrepreneurs. SEED-trained BDS providers are equipped with SEED tools and insights to assist them with their work of directly (face-to-face) supporting enterprises to grow.
Additionally, the SEED Replicator program is quite a new trend in the market and very outstanding. The SEED Replicator program matches and facilitates Business to Business partnerships and provides a platform to connect proven and tested business models with aspiring entrepreneurs willing to adopt and adapt to their local context. In my opinion, this is one of the most innovative strategies which I have come across that will help to expedite the expansion of innovative eco-inclusive entrepreneurial solutions for fairer sustainable development and preserve the environment for the next generation. The SEED Replicator program has a multiplier effect by doubling efforts through partnerships and entrepreneurship match-making to alleviate poverty and tackle climate change globally and ultimately contribute to achieving the 2030 agenda (Sustainable Development Goals). I am convinced by the value of learning from others and the SEED Replicator’s emphasis on partnerships.
Where does SEED fit into my journey?
I am just eleven weeks into my internship and super excited to be part of the inclusive multicultural SEED team. It is such a great opportunity to be part of a team with a flat hierarchy and people from different disciplinary backgrounds exploring ways to integrate socio-environmental sustainability into economic processes. Exposure to the activities of SEED during the past weeks has broadened my knowledge of the tailor-made enterprise training toolkits, improved my skills with writing a concept paper and designing marketing tricks for rural farmers, and further enhanced my intercultural competence.
After completing this internship, it is my desire to pick up a job in this field – in a project such as SEED – for some years to gain more qualified knowledge and experience. The skills acquired from such project will enhance my capacity to develop creative approaches beneficial in promoting and training aspiring entrepreneurs to develop eco-inclusive solutions and also assist conventional SMEs to incorporate green activities in their business models. I can then further actively engage in motivating locally-driven leadership action, particularly among the Ghanaian youth in tackling our socio-ecological problems and mitigating the adverse effects of climate change, while contributing to the achievement of global goals by 2030.