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Young Entrepreneur of the Week: Nana Kwasi Ohene

Welcome to the YEWGLOBAL blog, where we celebrate individuals whose unwavering commitment sparks empowerment and drives positive change. In this edition, we proudly put our spotlights on Nana Kwasi Ohene, a philanthropist reshaping the destinies of young minds in Ghana. Join us as we delve into the inspiring journey of Nana Kwasi Ohene, a guiding light for the youth.

 

Meet Nana Kwasi Ohene a visionary, whose journey has been marked by a resolute commitment to uplift underserved youth in Ghana. He is the Founder of the Play and Learn Foundation (PAL), a Non-Governmental Organization that aims at empowering marginalized individuals through education, artistry, athletics, and personal development.

 

Nana Kwasi Ohene

Nana Kwasi Ohene's journey began with a solid educational foundation. Armed with an MBA in Marketing from the prestigious University of Ghana Business School, he realized the potential education held to shape futures. In 2013, with a heart brimming with purpose and a desire to make a difference, Nana Kwasi Ohene founded the Play and Learn Foundation. His vision was clear: to create a platform to empower young individuals and provide them with opportunities to overcome barriers and excel. PAL's primary goal is to empower youth aged 8 to 21 years, particularly in the Okponglo and La Bawaleshie communities in Accra, Ghana. The foundation's multi-faceted approach combines education, sports, and skill-building to create a holistic framework for growth. From community tutoring benefiting over a hundred children annually to innovative initiatives like reading, storytelling, and creative writing clinics that have impacted over a thousand children, PAL is making a substantial impact in the lives of young individuals.



Nana Kwasi Ohene's journey is marked by impactful initiatives that have touched the lives of many. PAL's contributions extend beyond academics and transcend into sports, soft skill development, character growth and discipline. As with any journey, challenges are inevitable. Nana Kwasi Ohene's leadership shines in his approach to handling conflicts within the diverse PAL team. His emphasis on open communication, active listening, and meaningful dialogue has not only resolved conflicts but also strengthened the team's collaborative spirit. Nana Kwasi Ohene's journey is a shining example of the transformative power of purpose and compassion. His story resonates with those seeking to make a positive impact on the world.

If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else. - Marvin Gaye


With a thirst for making change, Nana has touched the lives of countless children, giving them hope, tools for growth, and a chance to shine despite their circumstances. In a world that often emphasizes personal gain, Nana Kwasi Ohene stands as a reminder that true success lies in uplifting others. His journey of empowering youth through PAL reflects the essence of positive change, and his legacy will undoubtedly inspire generations to come. As we celebrate his dedication, let us be inspired to make our mark on the world in the same spirit of compassion, purpose, and unwavering commitment to creating a brighter future for all.


 
Interview
 

1. 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 Nana Kwasi Ohene, a visionary with an MBA in Marketing from the University of Ghana Business School. I founded the Play and Learn Foundation (PAL) in 2015 with a mission to uplift underserved and marginalised children, especially in the Okponglo and La Bawaleshie communities. PAL's primary goal is to empower youth between the ages of 8 to 21 years through education, artistry, athletics, and overall personal development. Located in Accra, Ghana, PAL strives to provide mentorship, academic support, and various opportunities for the youth to excel. The foundation's focus on youth empowerment aligns with my passion for youth development, making a positive impact in the lives of less privileged children.


Throughout the eight years since its establishment, PAL has undertaken numerous projects and collaborations with similar organisations. By partnering with other entities, PAL has been able to extend its reach and support activities that align with its objectives. The foundation's programs centre around educational support, utilising sports like football for fostering soft skill development, community outreach, and implementing projects to cultivate both hard and soft skills among the youth. I envision expanding PAL's framework to encompass other cities and villages in Ghana, eventually spreading throughout West Africa and the entire continent. Through these efforts, PAL aims to create future leaders who can bring positive change to their communities. With a commitment to youth development and a comprehensive approach, the Play and Learn Foundation continues to make a significant difference in the lives of young individuals in Accra and hopes to inspire similar initiatives across Ghana and beyond.


2. Now, tell us more about the Play and Learn foundation.

The Play and Learn Foundation (PAL) is a non-profit organization formed to bring together boys and girls that have the desire to pursue academic and professional excellence. Despite their living circumstances, they are driven to be leaders through a passion for play. PAL seeks to provide learning opportunities that support all developmental areas of children. PAL engages youth from underserved communities within the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency. Our programs are focused on promoting athletics, talent development, artistry, technology, mentorship, academic support, and community outreach.


Vision Statement

A world in which all African youth are supported in their pursuit of academic excellence and skills development, so that they may become the leaders of their generation.


Mission Statement

To empower underserved Ghanaian girls and boys through a combination of academics, athletics, professional mentorship, and community contribution to develop the skills needed to become leaders in their local and global communities.

Programs and Activities

Education, Community Tutoring, Mobile Library, PAL Builders Tech Program, Artistry, Heart Art Program, Follow My Lead Dance Program, Sankofa Poetry Project, Athletics and Talent Development, Football for Soft and Life Skills Development, Youth Empowerment, Yaa Asantewaa Girl Empowerment Project, Teen Talk Project, Mentorship and Job Shadowing, Learning on the Go Job Shadowing Project, Community Outreach, Street Love Project, NHIS registration project, Merry Kidsmas Program, and Mental Health awareness walks and talks.



3. What inspired you to pursue this passion?

In August 2013, the concept of the Play and Learn Foundation (PAL) was born in Ajax Park at the University of Ghana, due to my vision. Local children from areas like Okponglo, Shiashie, Bawlashie, and Madina were captivated by university students' training drills and matches, and they eagerly desired to participate in football themselves. Fueled by a strong passion to support these young ones, I established PAL to ensure they would have access to both physical activities and educational resources for their growth. As the children began participating in PAL's activities, it became apparent that many of them came from underprivileged homes. Some had to work after school, selling provisions and food in Okponglo and Madina markets to contribute to their family's income. However, coming to Ajax Park to play football became the highlight of their day. The joy of playing helped them momentarily forget the challenges and stress they faced in their daily lives.


Over time, the Play and Learn Foundation expanded its offerings beyond football. It included various programs and lessons focused on learning the English language, reading, comprehension, mathematics, artistry, youth empowerment, and community outreach projects. In addition to the technical skills of football, PAL nurtures essential soft skills such as teamwork, patience, discipline, and problem-solving strategies. Since its inception, the foundation's impact has been remarkable. The number of participants steadily increased from around ten kids to over a hundred active children attending the weekly sessions, with the current count continuing to grow. PAL's sessions now provide structured lessons in a fun environment to develop reading, creative writing, and critical analysis skills, enhancing the overall learning experience for the children. With its comprehensive approach to youth development and a focus on both physical and educational aspects, the Play and Learn Foundation continues to positively influence the lives of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. My dedication to their well-being has brought hope and opportunities to these young minds, empowering them to face life's challenges with greater confidence and determination.


4. Can you share a significant life-changing experience that shaped you into who you are today?

As the leader of the Play and Learn Foundation (PAL), I firmly believe that a leader must cultivate and demonstrate the capacity to love others unconditionally, regardless of the circumstances. Love is the foundation of all meaningful relationships, and as a leader, I have learned to embody this quality throughout my journey with PAL. One of the essential ways I show love as a leader is by actively listening to the children and parents in our program. By empathising with their experiences, concerns, and aspirations, I gain a deeper understanding of their needs and can better support them in their personal growth and development. Building trust is crucial in any leadership role, and I make it a priority to gain the trust of the children and parents involved with PAL. Trust is nurtured through consistent actions, honesty, and genuine care for their well-being. My love for the country and my passion for nurturing youth led me to establish the Play and Learn Foundation. This genuine love and dedication to the future of Ghana channelled through its youth, have motivated me to continually enhance my professional and interpersonal skills.


I am committed to providing the best possible opportunities for the children under our care, empowering them to become capable and responsible citizens of their community and country. In my role as a leader, I go beyond the confines of the PAL activities and engage with the children on a deeper level. By scheduling home visits to their neighbourhoods, schools, and occasionally even hospital rooms, I demonstrate my level of involvement and genuine concern for their well-being. This personal touch not only reinforces the importance of education and play but also underscores the value of love and care in their lives. Love, in its truest form, inspires me to give and create opportunities for children to learn, grow, and succeed. It is the driving force behind the Play and Learn Foundation's mission and vision, propelling us to make a lasting impact on the lives of these young individuals.


5. Can you share with us some challenges you have faced in your journey and how you overcame them?

PAL serves as a shining example of what can be achieved when people from different backgrounds come together, transcending divisions of gender, race, religion, and class. Despite the children being from Accra, Ghana, the PAL team is a diverse group of college students and young professionals hailing from Europe and the Americas. This diversity in skills and experiences has occasionally led to conflicts within the team, but I have employed effective strategies to address and resolve these issues.


One instance of conflict arose during the formulation of a girl empowerment proposal, where differences in personalities and backgrounds among team members caused delays. To overcome this, I encourage open communication, actively listen to all perspectives, and facilitate meaningful dialogue. By doing so, we were able to create actionable steps towards reaching a common understanding and crafting a comprehensive proposal. This experience taught me the value of having an open mind and recognising the vital role each team member plays in adding value to our collective goals. Sustainability and funding are critical aspects for grassroots organisations like PAL.


To ensure the growth and impact of the organisation, PAL has devised a three-pronged strategy:

  • Setting up subsidiaries in the USA and Norway to aid in funding activities: By establishing subsidiaries in these countries, PAL can tap into additional funding sources and expand its donor base, enabling further support for its initiatives.

  • Pursuing revenue generation projects for internal funding: PAL actively engages in revenue-generating projects to raise funds independently. These initiatives not only contribute to the financial sustainability of the organisation but also provide valuable opportunities for skill development and community engagement.

  • Strategically pursuing corporate partnerships in Ghana: Collaborating with corporations in Ghana can yield mutually beneficial partnerships. By aligning with socially responsible businesses, PAL can access additional resources, funding, and expertise to enhance its impact on youth development.

By implementing these strategies, PAL can continue to achieve its overarching vision and further its mission of empowering youth in Accra and beyond. The commitment to inclusivity and the dedication to securing sustainable funding sources ensure that PAL remains a driving force for positive change in the lives of the underserved and marginalised children it serves.


6. What motivates and drives you to keep going, especially during tough times?

The quote by Marvin Gaye, "If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else," deeply resonates with me. Through the vision of PAL, I have discovered a profound sense of internal peace and a profound understanding of my God-given purpose. This purpose encompasses values such as hope, kindness, unconditional love, impact, change, and creating opportunities for others.


Even in the face of challenges and difficulties, I firmly believe that everything will eventually come together for the greater good, guided by the glory of God. This belief gives me strength and resilience to navigate through the turbulence and storms that may arise along the journey. The vision of PAL has not only brought me peace of mind but also a profound sense of fulfilment in making a positive difference in the lives of the underserved and marginalised youth. Embracing this purpose has allowed me to find meaning and direction in my life, knowing that I am contributing to a cause greater than myself.


Through PAL, I strive to instil hope in the hearts of the young individuals we serve, to show them kindness and unconditional love, and to empower them with the tools and opportunities they need to create a lasting impact and bring about positive change in their lives and communities. In moments of uncertainty and setbacks, I hold onto the belief that delays do not equate to denials. Each challenge presents an opportunity for growth and learning, and with steadfast faith and dedication, we can overcome obstacles and realise the vision of PAL in bringing brighter futures for the youth.


Overall, the journey with PAL has been a source of profound internal peace and purpose, driven by the desire to make a difference and uplift those in need. The foundation's vision of love, hope, and empowerment continues to guide me, inspiring me to press on with unwavering determination, knowing that our efforts will eventually come together to serve the greater purpose and bring glory to God.


7. How do you measure success?

In our world, success can indeed be measured in diverse and meaningful ways. It goes beyond conventional notions of wealth, fame, or material possessions. True success begins with appreciating the simple blessings life offers, such as waking up each day in good health and recognising the gift of life itself. Discovering one's God-given purpose on Earth is a significant aspect of success.


Understanding our unique calling and using our talents to contribute positively to the world brings a sense of fulfilment and purpose to our lives. Being kind, impactful, and making a positive difference in the lives of others is another essential measure of success. The ability to bring joy, laughter, and happiness to people's lives is a powerful testament to the goodness we can create in the world.


Success is also reflected in the goodness we spread through acts of kindness. Randomly showing kindness and compassion to others uplifts not only their spirits but also our own. It creates a ripple effect of positivity and fosters a sense of connectedness within our communities. Ultimately, success is a holistic and multifaceted concept that encompasses personal well-being, fulfilling our purpose, making a positive impact, and spreading kindness. Embracing these aspects of success enables us to lead purposeful and fulfilling lives, contributing to the betterment of our world and the happiness of those around us.


8. How important is it to you to do what you love and be successful at it?

I wholeheartedly agree that discovering one's purpose on Earth is a crucial aspect of leading a fulfilling and meaningful life. To embark on this journey of purpose, it is essential to first understand oneself fully. Knowing our strengths allows us to leverage our abilities effectively while recognising our weaknesses helps us identify areas for growth and improvement. Embracing our limitations with humility allows us to seek support and collaboration, strengthening our overall capabilities. Additionally, understanding our God-given talents is pivotal in the pursuit of purpose. These innate abilities are unique to each individual and hold the potential for greatness. Recognising and nurturing these talents empowers us to make a positive impact and fulfil our destinies.


Furthermore, finding one's purpose involves identifying what truly ignites our passion and love. Our passions serve as guiding lights, leading us toward the path that aligns with our deepest desires and aspirations. Once we have gained self-awareness and clarity about our strengths, weaknesses, limitations, talents, and passions, we can then chart a course towards excellence and success. Purpose-driven individuals use their God-given talents and passion as powerful tools to excel in their chosen endeavours and contribute significantly to the world


9. If you could offer one piece of advice to your younger self or to someone starting on a similar journey, what would it be?

I would advise my younger self that a life filled with mistakes is not only honourable but also more valuable than a life of inaction. In our world today, countless successful individuals have achieved greatness by learning from their mistakes and failures, propelling them to leave a legacy and reach new heights. Embrace the journey of growth, for it is through our challenges and setbacks that we find the strength to make our mark in history and create a meaningful impact on the world.


10. Are you on any social media platforms?

Yes, we are on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook. Our website is https://playandlearnfoundation.org/


 

The team at YEWGlobal wish Nana Kwasi Ohene all the best in his 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.


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