Welcome back to another instalment of our captivating Young Entrepreneur of the Week series on the YEW Global Blog. In this edition, we have the privilege of introducing you to an exceptional individual, whose steadfast commitment to effecting change truly sets her apart.
This week, we proudly present the inspiring narrative of Kezia Sanie, a bona fide change-maker whose journey in entrepreneurship and philanthropy commenced at the tender age of 16. Her story stands as a testament to the immense potential of young individuals to catalyse positive transformation.
Kezia Asiedua Sanie
At the core of our Entrepreneur of the Week's voyage lies Kezia Sanie, synonymous with unwavering dedication, profound passion, and an indomitable drive to enhance the well-being of underprivileged children. At the young age of 16, Kezia embarked on her remarkable odyssey as a change-maker. She founded "For The Future Ghana," a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a resolute mission to bestow quality education, healthcare resources, and life skills training upon underprivileged children. Her profound desire to break the cycle of poverty and offer a brighter future to vulnerable youth in Ghana found its embodiment in this initiative.
Kezia Asiedua Sanie
One of the remarkable facets of Kezia's journey is her adeptness in balancing her pursuit of a legal education with the responsibilities inherent in managing "For The Future Ghana." This duality is a testament to her exceptional time management acumen and her ardent commitment to both realms. Her ability to excel in the demanding field of law while concurrently making a substantive difference in the community is truly noteworthy.
The stewardship of "For The Future Ghana" has not been without its set of challenges. The organisation has grappled with resource constraints, with donations and grants constituting its primary source of sustenance. The difficulties in securing consistent funding have impeded the scaling of programs and extending outreach to more children in need. The logistical demands of accessing remote and underserved communities, often in challenging terrain, have added to the complexity. Furthermore, addressing the varying quality of education in different regions has necessitated additional investments in educational support and resources.
In spite of these challenges, "For The Future Ghana" has brought about substantial benefits to the community and the individuals it serves. The organisation has wrought a transformation in the lives of underprivileged children by affording them access to education, healthcare, and indispensable resources that would have otherwise been beyond their reach. This noble work has fostered a sense of community and unity among the beneficiaries, with local communities actively participating and contributing their time and resources to bolster these initiatives.
Kezia Sanie's journey as an entrepreneur, law student, and philanthropist is an extraordinary testament to her unwavering dedication and fervour. Her capacity to harmonise these demanding roles underscores the potential of youth to effectuate positive change. We trust that Kezia's inspiring tale serves as a wellspring of motivation for those who aspire to effect meaningful change in the world, regardless of their age or background.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself. For example: (Your name, your educational background, your business/brand, your achievements, basically everything that makes you who you are today.
My name is Kezia Sanie, a 23-year-old Ghanaian social entrepreneur on a mission to empower the lives of underprivileged children and create a brighter future for them. Currently pursuing the Professional Law Course at the Ghana School of Law after graduating from the University of Ghana School of Law last year, I have woven my passion for law seamlessly with my commitment to driving social impact. I believe that this is truly my calling. At the age of 16, a spark ignited within me to make a profound change in the lives of underprivileged children when I was in Form 1 at Wesley Girls’ High School, leading me to establish For The Future (FTF) Ghana together with my friends. FTF, my brainchild since 2016, is a fully registered Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) with a social certificate as well, that stands as a beacon of hope for vulnerable children.
Over the years, FTF has forged partnerships with both local and international organizations, culminating in the renovation of a deprived school, the provision of educational materials to over 3000 children, and the expansion of access to quality education and healthcare to underprivileged children under our Student Training and Education Project (STEP). Through this initiative, thirteen children are currently been sponsored fully through school while we also ensure their total well-being. We also launched a sub-initiative called the SmartStart Initiative where 23 children living in slums were taken through comprehensive and effective preparation towards their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) this year.
Through FTF, I have seen first-hand the transformative power of education, health resources, and life skills training in children’s lives. This journey has been one of challenges, triumphs, and unwavering dedication. From receiving the Entrepreneur of the Year 2020 award by the Young Achiever’s Awards/Summit to FTF being recognised as the Project/Initiative of the Year 2020, these milestones underscore our commitment. Additionally, in May this year, I was selected as one of the 200 young people from 6900+ applicants worldwide to attend the World Bank Group’s Youth Summit as a delegate in Washington D.C., USA. In July 2023, I was named a Top 50 finalist for the $100,0000 Chegg.org Global Student Prize and in August 2023, I was named a Top 10 finalist for the same prestigious award. I was also appointed as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Head of State Award Scheme (Duke of Edinburgh Awards) that same month.
I'm not your typical law student. Yes, I attend the Ghana School of Law, where I'm diligently honing my legal skills. But there's something else that drives me, something that takes me far beyond the classroom and into the hearts and minds of underprivileged children across Ghana. I'm Kezia Sanie, and I'm on a mission to make a real difference. I wear many hats in this journey of impact, and one of them is that of a speaker and mentor. My adventure into speaking and mentoring began several years ago when I realised the incredible power of education and mentorship. I saw young minds bursting with potential, but often lacking the guidance and opportunities they needed to truly flourish. That's when I decided to step in. Soon, invitations to schools across Ghana started pouring in. I found myself standing before classrooms filled with eager, hopeful faces. I shared my own story of determination, resilience, and the transformative magic of education. My words resonated deeply, kindling a spark in these students to dream bigger and reach higher.
But I don't stop at motivational speeches. I'm a mentor to many children apart from our FTF beneficiaries, offering unwavering support and guidance to help them navigate life's challenges. Whether it's a one-on-one mentoring session or addressing a graduating class, I'm committed to empowering young minds with the belief that they can conquer any obstacle. Through speaking and mentoring, I aim to break down barriers and pave a path to success for all. I'm not just talking about change; I'm actively working to make it happen, one child at a time. My journey is a testament to the incredible influence of education, mentorship, and unwavering dedication to a brighter future for the next generation. As a law student, a visionary leader, and a passionate mentor, I'm proving that no dream is too grand, and no challenge is insurmountable when you're driven by a purpose as profound as mine. My mission is to continue being a catalyst for positive change, igniting hope and empowering others to join the journey of impact. My fervent belief in the transformative power of education drove me to volunteer as an elementary school teacher at the WIT School in East Legon. This passion is fueled by my unyielding commitment to building a brighter, more inclusive future for generations to come.
2. Now, tell us more about For The Future Ghana.
For The Future Ghana (FTF) is a vibrant and purpose-driven Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that I founded with the help of my friends with a mission to bring lasting positive change to the lives of underprivileged children in Ghana. Our journey began in 2016, and since then, FTF has evolved into a beacon of hope and a catalyst for transformation in the deprived communities we serve. Our approach is rooted in holistic development. We firmly believe that education, health and well-being are interconnected facets that pave the way for a brighter future. FTF’s primary focus is on providing access to quality education, healthcare resources, and life skills training for vulnerable children. We understand that education is the cornerstone of empowerment, and it is through education that children can break free from the cycle of poverty and pave their own paths towards success.
One of our landmark initiatives is the Student Training and Education Project (STEP) under which we are sponsoring 14 underprivileged children living in slums through school and ensuring their total well-being. Our SmartStart Initiative was carefully crafted as a subsidiary of STEP to provide extensive lessons’ mentorship and support to prepare our beneficiaries for their Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). This year 24 children directly benefitted from the SmartStart Initiative. This project is a testament to our commitment to equipping the next generation with the tools they need to thrive academically. FTF is more than an organisation; it is a community of passionate change-makers who are dedicated to leaving a positive mark on the world. Beyond education, we also emphasise health and well-being, partnering with various organisations to ensure access to healthcare resources and addressing the nutritional needs of the children we serve.
Our journey has been defined by collaboration and partnerships. By working hand in hand with both local and international organisations, we have been able to amplify our impact and extend our reach to even more children in need. One such partnership is the one with SchoolInABag, a UK-based charity and TrashyBags Africa which has enabled us to distribute climate-friendly school bags made from recycled plastic waste and fully equipped with stationery and a hygiene kit to over 800 children living in very remote areas. In September 2023, we also collaborated with a student researcher from Leeds University in the UK to distribute over 20,000 sanitary pads and educate girls in underserved communities in the Greater Accra, Eastern, Bono East and Central Regions, on menstrual hygiene. This is part of our efforts to contribute to ending period poverty under our “EmpowerHer, Period” project, bringing us one step closer to a future where no girl misses out on school due to her period. So far, FTF has directly impacted the lives of over 4000 underprivileged children since its inception in 2016. Our goal is to establish and create a safe haven (the FTF Village) for our beneficiaries to give them access to resources and an enabling environment where they can learn, grow and discover their full potential.
3. Why did you consider establishing a Non-Governmental Organisation that caters for young people and underprivileged children in Ghana?
I established the NGO, For The Future Ghana, with a deep conviction to address the pressing issues of child poverty, child labour, educational disparities, and lack of opportunities faced by underprivileged children in Ghana. Witnessing children forced into child labour and street begging as well as lacking access to quality education ignited a burning desire to make a tangible difference. I firmly believe that every child deserves a fair chance to thrive and succeed. By creating a platform focused on education, mentorship, and holistic support, we empower underprivileged children to break free from the cycle of poverty, equipping them with tools to create a brighter future for themselves, their families and their communities. My personal experiences, passion for children and a genuine commitment to social change drove me to establish this organisation, aiming to transform lives and inspire others to join the cause. I believe that this is my calling and I am walking in my purpose.
4. In your opinion, what are the resources needed to establish a successful NGO?
Establishing a successful NGO requires a combination of resources, dedication, and strategic planning. Some key resources include:
Financial Resources: Funding is crucial for operational expenses, program implementation, and sustainability. This can come from grants, donations, fundraising events, and partnerships with corporations or individuals who share the organisation's vision.
Human Resources: A dedicated team of skilled and passionate individuals is essential. This includes staff, volunteers, mentors, and experts who can contribute their time, skills, and knowledge to drive the organisation's mission.
Network and Partnerships: Collaborations with other NGOs, government agencies, academic institutions, and community organisations can provide valuable resources, expertise, and support.
Technology and Infrastructure: Reliable communication tools, computers, and internet access are vital for efficient operations, communication, and outreach.
Strategic Planning: Clear goals, objectives, and a well-defined strategy are essential for achieving impact. A comprehensive business plan can guide the organisation's growth and sustainability.
Advocacy and Awareness: Raising awareness about the organisation's cause and building support among stakeholders, donors, and the general public is crucial. This can be done by establishing a strong social media presence.
Monitoring and Evaluation Tools: Effective measurement and assessment tools help track progress, evaluate impact, and make informed decisions for continuous improvement.
Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Understanding and complying with legal and regulatory requirements, including registering as an NGO and adhering to reporting standards, is essential. In Ghana, to run an NGO, you will need a social certificate from the Department of Social Welfare to operate. Ultimately, a successful NGO combines these resources with a passionate vision, a clear mission, and a commitment to making a positive impact on the lives of those it serves.
5. What have been the challenges and benefits with regard to For The Future Ghana?
Resource Constraints: One of the primary challenges we've faced is the limited availability of resources. As a non-governmental organisation, we rely heavily on donations and grants. Securing consistent funding can be a challenge, impacting our ability to scale our programs and reach more children in need.
Access to Remote Communities: Many of the underprivileged children we aim to support live in remote or underserved areas. Accessing these communities can be logistically challenging, often requiring long journeys and sometimes difficult terrain.
Educational Quality: Ensuring a quality education for our beneficiaries is a priority. However, the quality of education can vary significantly between schools and regions, making it necessary to invest in additional educational support and resources.
Transforming Lives: The most significant benefit is the positive impact we've had on the lives of underprivileged children. Through our programs, we've been able to provide access to education, healthcare, and essential resources that these children wouldn't have otherwise had.
Community Engagement: Our work has fostered a sense of community and unity among the people we serve. Local communities often get involved, volunteering their time and resources to support our initiatives.
Personal Growth: For our team members and volunteers, being part of For The Future Ghana has been a deeply rewarding experience. It's allowed us to grow personally and develop valuable skills in leadership, project management, and community engagement.
Recognition: Over the years, our efforts have gained recognition locally and internationally. This recognition has helped us secure partnerships and additional support to further our mission.
Long-Term Impact: By investing in education and the well-being of underprivileged children, we believe we're contributing to a brighter future not only for these children but for their communities and the nation as a whole.
In summary, while there have been challenges, the benefits of our work through For The Future Ghana have far outweighed them. We remain committed to our mission of making a lasting, positive impact on the lives of underprivileged children in Ghana.
6. As a young aspiring individual, what would you say drives you to always want to achieve more in life? What are your sources of motivation?
As a young and aspiring individual, my drive to achieve more in life is fueled by several sources of motivation. I am deeply passionate about creating positive change in the lives of others, especially in underprivileged communities. The desire to see tangible improvements in the well-being and opportunities of those less fortunate is a constant motivator.
Personal Growth: I view every challenge and opportunity as a chance for personal growth and learning. The pursuit of new experiences, skills, and knowledge is a powerful driver for me.
Role Models: I draw inspiration from individuals who have made a significant impact on the world, whether through humanitarian efforts, innovation, or leadership. Learning about their journeys and the challenges they overcame inspires me to strive for greatness.
Supportive Network: Having a network of friends, mentors, and family members who believe in my potential and encourage me to pursue my goals is invaluable. Their support motivates me to keep pushing forward.
Sense of Purpose: I firmly believe that everyone has a unique purpose in life. Recognising my purpose and understanding that my actions can contribute to a better world gives me a profound sense of motivation.
Continuous Learning: I am motivated by the idea that there is always more to learn and discover. The ever-evolving nature of knowledge and the world itself keeps me curious and driven.
Desire for Impactful Legacy: I aspire to leave a positive and lasting legacy that extends beyond my lifetime. Knowing that the work I do today can influence generations to come is a powerful motivator.
Resilience: Facing challenges and setbacks can be discouraging, but the ability to bounce back and persevere motivates me to keep pushing through adversity.
Global Perspective: Understanding that we live in an interconnected world where our actions can have far-reaching effects motivates me to think globally and act locally to address pressing global issues.
In essence, my motivation stems from a combination of personal values, a commitment to making a difference, a thirst for knowledge and growth, and the belief that positive change is not only possible but essential. These sources of motivation drive me to continually strive for more in life.
7. In your opinion, how would you measure success?
Success is a highly subjective concept, and its measurement can vary significantly from one person to another. It's not solely about financial wealth or achieving societal recognition. Success is deeply personal and can encompass a range of dimensions. Here's a holistic perspective on how one might measure success:
Personal Fulfilment: Feeling content, satisfied, and happy with your life and the choices you've made is a fundamental measure of success. It's about pursuing what genuinely matters to you and finding joy in those pursuits.
Achievement of Goals: Success often involves setting and accomplishing meaningful goals. These goals can be related to your career, personal development, relationships, health, or any other aspect of life that's important to you.
Impact on Others: Many people find a sense of success in positively influencing the lives of others. It might involve mentoring, teaching, volunteering, or contributing to a cause larger than themselves.
Financial Stability: While not the sole measure of success, financial stability is essential for many people. It involves having the resources to meet your needs, support your loved ones, and pursue your goals.
Health and Well-being: Success should include good physical and mental health. Without health, many other achievements can lose their significance.
Work-Life Balance: Achieving a balance between work and personal life, and having time for leisure, family, and self-care, can be seen as a significant success.
Personal Growth: Continuously growing, learning, and evolving as an individual can be a measure of success. This includes expanding your knowledge, developing new skills, and becoming a better version of yourself.
Relationships: Healthy, meaningful relationships with family, friends, and a significant other can be considered a form of success. Nurturing these connections can lead to a fulfilling life.
Legacy: Some measure success by the impact they leave behind, whether through their contributions to society, creative works, or the positive influence they've had on others.
Happiness Index: It's valuable to periodically reflect on your own happiness and well-being. The extent to which you feel content and at peace with your life can be a measure of success.
Ultimately, success is deeply personal, and what constitutes success for one person may not hold the same meaning for another. It's essential to define your own parameters of success based on your values, aspirations, and circumstances rather than conforming to external expectations. Success should be a reflection of your unique journey and the fulfilment of your individual goals and desires.
8. How important is it to you to do what you love and be successful at it?
Doing what I love and finding success in it is incredibly important to me. It's the driving force behind my daily actions and long-term goals. The motivation I draw from pursuing my passions is unparalleled. For me, success is measured by the level of fulfilment and happiness I experience in my chosen path. It's about waking up each day with excitement, knowing that I'm dedicating my time to something I'm genuinely passionate about. This intrinsic motivation keeps me committed and resilient, even in the face of challenges. The personal growth I've achieved through pursuing my passions has been transformative. I'm constantly learning, adapting, and expanding my skills and knowledge. It's a journey of self-discovery and improvement that never stops.
The impact I can make when I combine my passion with success is one of the most rewarding aspects. Knowing that my work can inspire others and contribute to positive change in my field or community is a driving force for me. Moreover, the quality of life I've gained from doing what I love is immeasurable. It's not just about professional achievement but also about having a better work-life balance, improved mental and emotional well-being, and a sense of purpose that enriches every aspect of my life. In the end, doing what I love and finding success in it is about leaving a lasting legacy. It's about making a meaningful mark on the world, something that will inspire and benefit others long after I'm gone. It's a fulfilling and purpose-driven way to navigate through life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
9. What advice would you give any individual trying to venture into the humanitarian world?
If you're considering venturing into the humanitarian world, I applaud your desire to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Here are some valuable pieces of advice to help you on your journey:
Passion and Purpose: Start with identifying a cause or issue that genuinely moves you. Your passion and dedication will be your driving force when the work gets challenging.
Working with a passionate team: You should be intentional about the team you choose to work with. Make sure that their passion aligns with yours because this will ensure that they are dedicated. Also, try to give everyone roles based on their strengths and talents. That way, they can deliver to take the organisation forward.
Education and Training: Consider gaining relevant education and training. Many humanitarian roles require specific skills or qualifications. Having a strong educational foundation can also help you understand the complexities of the issues you're tackling.
Research and Understanding: Take the time to thoroughly research the issue or cause you're interested in. Understand its root causes, the communities affected, and the existing solutions or programs. This knowledge will guide your efforts and ensure they're effective.
Collaboration: Humanitarian work is often a collaborative effort. Build relationships with like-minded individuals, organisations, and experts. Collaboration can amplify your impact and provide valuable support.
Local Empowerment: When working in communities, prioritise local empowerment. Involve the people you aim to help in the decision-making process. Their insights and involvement are crucial for sustainable change.
Resilience and Adaptability: Be prepared for challenges and setbacks. Humanitarian work can be emotionally and physically demanding. Develop resilience and the ability to adapt to changing circumstances.
Safety and Well-being: Prioritise your safety and well-being, as well as that of the people you're helping. Understand the risks associated with your work and take necessary precautions.
Cultural Sensitivity: Respect the cultural norms and values of the communities you work with. Cultural sensitivity fosters trust and effective communication.
Continuous Learning: Stay informed about the latest developments, best practices, and innovations in humanitarian work. Continuous learning is essential for staying effective.
Advocacy: Consider advocating for systemic change in addition to direct aid. Addressing the root causes of issues can have a broader and more lasting impact.
Funding and Sustainability: Secure funding for your projects and think about long-term sustainability. Financial stability is essential for maintaining your initiatives.
Measure Impact: Develop ways to measure and evaluate the impact of your work. Demonstrating the effectiveness of your efforts can attract more support and resources.
Self-Care: Don't underestimate the importance of self-care. Burnout is a common challenge in humanitarian work. Take time to recharge and seek support when needed.
Patience: Change often takes time. Be patient and persistent in your efforts.
Celebrate Success: Celebrate your achievements and milestones, no matter how small. It's a reminder of the positive change you're creating.
Remember that the humanitarian field is diverse, and there are many ways to contribute, whether through direct service, advocacy, fundraising, or awareness-building. Ultimately, your commitment and determination to make a difference can have a profound impact on the lives of those in need.
The team at YEWGlobal wishes Kezia Sanie all the best in her next endeavours. We can't wait to have an update on your success journey.
We hope you enjoyed this week's edition of the YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR OF THE WEEK.
See you all soon!