Today, we have on Konnect Africa’s hot seat, the amiable Ghanaian change agent, Prince Akpah.
A blogger, social entrepreneur, writer, the Director for Projects at Synergy for Success-Ghana, Head of Media Relations for The Sangy Foundation and the founder of Be A Girl.
At 21, Prince has not only discovered his passion and calling, but is helping many young girls chat their live’s paths and make huge impact.
Sit back and read his thoughts on a number of issues………….
KA: You are a blogger, social entrepreneur, writer, a volunteer for several organizations and more. How do you juggle all these and yet have an interesting social life?
Prince: I have a goal to attain in all I do, so before I set to launch a project or accept to volunteer for an organisation, I make sure it first fits into my values and would make me not waste my time.
I am also disciplined in delivering my duties, so it gives me more time to do the right thing.
My social life is determined by the relationships I have built where normally I spend my Saturdays attending workshops, conferences or seminars networking, getting inspired by the achievement of others and learn more on how I can succeed.
KA: Do tell us a bit about ‘Hallowed Kids Foundation’. How much impact has it made since its inception?
Prince: Hallowed Kids Foundation is where I discovered the abilities to the many things I can do now.
I first joined as an Ambassador to my region whiles in High School but decided to fully volunteer for the organisation after school when my friends were applying for paid jobs. And it was at same time that the NGO decided to start a newspaper publication and at age 19 I was made the Editor in Chief. I played my role very well to the success of having published our first edition before we became victim to a fraud issue from someone who was helping with the registration of the publication so we have to quit.
Currently we are working on the flagship program of the NGO, Children’s Republic which was launched in 2011. It is the first TV reality show on Leadership pioneered by Pastor Jude Odim the Founder in Ghana.
The greatest impact of this organisation is me as a person and the participants of the first edition of Children’s Republic who are now managing their own companies and initiatives at very young ages. Others are holding top leadership positions in schools and we are very optimistic that when we bring it back into action more lives will be changed and perceptions about the future of Africa will be optimistic.
KA: A wish to get up, close and personal; do tell us a bit about yourself; ethnicity, education, family…………
Prince: I have an interesting family background, I belong to a polygamous nuclear family of 27 comprising of 6 wives and 20 children. My dad was a politician, farmer and a former district education director and my mum a teacher.
I was born on 24th April, 1993, started schooling at the age of three at Amazing Love schools from Crèche to JHS, had my high school education at St. Paul’s Senior High School where I studied General Science and graduated with the 21st position out of 329 students that sat for WASSCE 2012 in my school.
I am from Avalavi and Wheta in The Volta Region and belong to the Ewe Ethnic group.
KA: Be A Girl…the birth, the mission, the impact, the sponsors…..
Prince: BE A GIRL is an empowerment initiative focused on inspiring young girls whose academic endeavours are very excellent. There are so many young girls who are doing very well in their academic endeavours and yet do not receive the motivation they need to encourage them. Finding this need, I initiated BE A Girl to serve as a platform where we can appreciate the achievements of young girls by awarding them with citations and other souvenirs.
Be A Girl has being one of the proud stories I have made out of my initiatives. I started as little I could afford personally with GH¢10 before seeking for support through partnerships.
Our first event was at a school close to my office and our application coincided with their annual anniversary. So we printed the citations with some souvenirs and awarded the girls who excelled in their previous exams on 11th October 2013 which is dubbed International Day for the Girl Child.
We have since travelled to three regions where about 300 girls from 20 schools have being recognised for their hard work and the response has being awesome.
We also honoured a 46 year old lady who is in primary school and through our advocacy her story is now featured in an international documentary.
Our hope through this project is to have the award winners inspire their mates to take their academics commitment more strict.
We were recently shortlisted for the World Youth Summit Awards and have hosted influential Ghanaian women in some of the schools and had featured in a documentary by Viasat1 where I made appearance on their flagship program The One Show hosted by Anita Erskine.
The Sangy Foundation, Women at the Well, Power To Girls and Synergy for Success have being very supportive in delivering this voluntary task.
We hope to go international as I recently visited some schools in Togo for discussion which was highly positive.
KA: What are your influences as a writer and social media entrepreneur?
Prince: I initially started writing out of “envy” when I saw a friend’s article in my school’s magazine. I then vowed to also get mine published in the next edition which I made happen. From then I keep on writing my thoughts and submissions to radio programs when a mate invited me to be part of the formation of a Club on campus which will be supplying news items to students and we named it “Spaco News Agency”.
I then took up a career as a passionate campus journalist. I was made the Deputy Editor in Chief and had the biggest responsibility to research on the internet and read news at assembly and make sure they are printed and pasted on the schools notice board for further reference by teachers and students on weekly basis.
But after school and my appointment as editor in chief of a newspaper, I took more interest and believed I can make a career out of writing. So after the failure to continue our publication I took to the New Media to publish my thoughts for the world to read. When I got my first article published on the web and I was excited but when I read a rejoinder from a university professor in New York on an article I wrote I knew I have a voice and better platform to share information with the world.
My blog (akpahprince.wordpress.com) was setup after an advice from Ekow Mensah the Founder of TANOE. It gave me the opportunity to get my personal thoughts out to the world without rejection from any media house.
Through my love for social media, I became so passionate about how I can help improve the presence of Ghanaians and their brands on the new media scene. So I started the Ghana Social Media Rankings to help encourage competition of representation of Ghanaians and their brands on Social Media. And that was very successful. Now we are putting up a union of young Social Media Analysts who will occasionally meet to gather information about Ghana on social media for publication just to promote what Ghana as a brand looks like on the international new media scene. We are also in talks with friends from other countries who are also interested in implementing this initiative in their various countries.
KA: Have you authored any book yet?
Prince: Yes I did, but just waiting for the right time to get them published. One would be on my 24th Birthday and it is entitled Determined to Conquer.
KA: Unemployment has remained a major challenge/setback in the growth wheels of the continent. Why is this so and how can it be tackled?
Prince: One of the plans I have currently is to build a company to employ my mates who are currently in school when they graduate. Unemployment will continue to worsen when young people still go with the perception of being an employable material only after getting their first degree forgetting over 1 million people also have same dream. That creates a prodigious competition and breeds corruption.
Young people need to change their perception and tell themselves they can also become employers by learning from other people especially Africans who have done it.
KA: In the face of challenges and disappointments, what keeps you motivated and in tune with purpose?
Prince: Just my passion. I believe I can make a change in this world through my commitment and focus on my dreams.
One thing I’ve learnt is disappointment creates more opportunities. It is only when one decides to give up that all the unseen opportunities go to waste. Let me give two similar examples; when I first had admission into the university I was so happy that I would be enrolling in one of the top universities in Ghana, but when the disappointment set in that made it not possible for me to continue my education at that time, I decided to launch Be A Girl which I had being sheltering before then, today through Be A Girl my life and perception have changed. More opportunities have come my way which I never thought of. Through that period I stayed home, I also got the opportunity to join the African Achievers Awards team which motivated me to launch Africa Youth Awards.
Disappointments and challenges will always come in but as a young person I have learnt to have my shock absorber to be able to withstand all these circumstances when they arrive because I know it creates better opportunities.
KA: What would you say has been your greatest achievement to date?
Prince: It was having Be A Girl shortlisted for the World Youth Summit Award as the only project from Ghana in 2014 and being appointed Assistant Director for New Media by African Achievers Awards a team made up of top shots all across Africa with recent features on Forbes.
KA: What organizations have you volunteered for and why?
Prince: I find great passion for volunteering as I believe it gives me the opportunity to network and learn more things that schooling wouldn’t have taught me.
I am the Director for Projects at Synergy for Success-Ghana, Head of Media Relation for The Sangy Foundation; Ass Director for New Media, African Achievers Awards; Technical Director for Generational Thinkers; Ass Treasure, Ghana Writers Awards and have also being involved with Success Africa Conference, Accra Youth Summit, Ghana Youth AgriFair, Global Hand washing Day, Diplomat 101 and lot of others which have me play different roles. All these positions are on voluntary basis.
I have being part of teaching kids how to wash their hands, paint schools and hospitals and organising extra classes for Final year students through the ICAN Mentorship Program, writing and publishing news items for people and startup companies all across Africa.
KA: Many young people wish to be like you, arrive at your level of impact and knowledge; but it doesn’t just happen by mere wishful thinking right? What is that thing you believe every young person must know/do to be able to make their mark in the world?
Prince: You just need to be humble and always submissive to accept mistakes and praises. I have learnt a lot at age 21 that I would have wasted if I was not humble to the numerous people I work with. I have to accept my mistakes and make sure I do not commit them again. My first articles were full of mistakes and through public criticism, I have being able to work on that. One of my beliefs is to never get discouraged because someone discouraged me; but rather discourage them in discouraging me.
Never let criticism and submissiveness discourage you. I believe no matter how young I am I can make an impact.
KA: What major challenge/failure have you had in life, how did you react to it and how has it changed your approach to life?
Prince: It all happened when I invested my saving into a business to build an e-commerce website and has to be disappointed by the web developer till date. I met all the payment requirement and all reproaches on the developer to get my work done were in vain. I did few consulting with top brains I am privileged to be associated with and they gave it the best rating.
Through counselling by a mentor I have to learn how to accept such setbacks as that discussion have being on going since 2013.
It has given me a great lesson to always believe I am the greatest architect to my success. So in most things I want to initiate I make sure I start on my own before inviting friends to work on it with me.
KA: You have interacted with a good number of young achievers via your motivational platform, ‘The Journey so Far’. What/who inspired the initiative, how far is your reach, and how much has it impacted Ghana?
Prince: Having being inspired by the amazing works of young people, I found it difficult getting information about their journey whenever I do a google search on their names. So since I had some top online platforms to publish articles on, I decided to start an online series where I would gather their stories and get them published online to help more people to be inspired as I was.
So my first step was to send a questionnaire to some few emails that I have collected through their social media platforms. But surprisingly, only one person replied and quickly I got it published and became surprised about how the story travelled. I got more encouragement through that success and designed a different approach to getting people to interview. Through that a friend, Rene Cecilsons made the contacts for me and the gate was opened for me to the houses, Offices and cars of the various young achievers. I was really excited and after publishing the stories other young achievers took interest and that’s how I have interviewed people even outside Ghana and the continent of Africa.
Currently we have a radio slot to start broadcasting on air but just need financial assistance to push it through.
Through this we started the annual listing of Top 20 Young Ghanaian Changemakers which has received lot of international attention.
Through this a lot of young people have online profiles and it will surprise to see our interviews first whenever you go a google search on them. And we are hoping to use this platform to project a lot of young people. The African Achievers Awards also gave us their official blog to be used to share such stories with the audience and it has being a blessing to the initiative.
We are also working with Edit Ghana to help publish profiles on Young Change Makers on Wikipedia.
KA: If you had an opportunity to interact with the president of Ghana for 4 minutes, what 4 questions will you ask him?
Prince: Actually I have met the president personally already when the Mara Foundation was launched in Ghana. I was privileged among few to witness the private ceremony at the presidential palace here in Accra.
My question will look awkward but I am someone who always want to get inspired so these are the four questions I would ask H.E. John Mahama relating to his personal life and achievements;
What was his first inspiring thought when he got the information he will be sworn in as president within few hours.
What has being the toughest role he has to deliver as the president of Ghana and how he succeeded?
How does he accept failure and still encourage himself to be a better president?
What would he have been doing if he hadn’t become a politician?
KA: A decade onward; plans, hopes, dreams…
Prince: Within 10 years from now I will be in my early 30s and I believe I would be doing the unimagined things that great achievers who are in their 30s now aren’t doing. I should be able to build my brand into a legendary status.
KA: True greatness is………..?
Prince: True greatness consists in being great in little things- Charles Simmons
KA: True Leadership is not ………
Prince: ….when leaders succeed, but when followers get the opportunity to be leader of the Leader.
KA: Six principles you live by……
Prince: Humility; Determination; Making a Difference; Leaving a Legacy; being myself and getting my greatest belief in God.
KA: Kindly inspire a young African in a sentence.
Prince: Never get Jealous about the success of a young person, what you need to be doing is getting INSPIRED.
To connect with Prince Akpah:
Facebook and Google+ – Akpah Prince
Blogs- akpahprince.wordpress.com and africanviewpointjournal.com