Access to funding is one of the biggest challenges on the African continent. Businesses that can guarantee high returns to investors struggle to raise; how about nonprofits that do not produce cash returns? How do they get money? What has been the leverage?
In today’s episode, we asked Sarah Boateng, the founder of IGEA Enterprise who has raised over £10,000 to support girls living in rural communities in Northern Ghana have an equal opportunity to attend school whilst menstruating on how they got funded.
NCVO Ghana: Hi Sarah, Nice to meet you. In less than 50 words, share with us what you do at IGEA Enterprise.
Sarah: Thank you NCVO. At IGEA Enterprise, We advocate for investment in the quality education of girls living in rural communities and design programmes to collaborate with local communities to remove barriers that impact girls' education.
NCVO Ghana: How did it all start? Share with us the journey - the struggle, iterations, structuring, fun facts, etc.
Sarah: IGEA Enterprise started as a response to a solo trip I embarked on in 2016. I moved from the UK to live in a village to understand the issues impacting girls in rural communities, especially those who leave school early. In the community, I saw that girls were missing 3-5 days of school each month, compared to boys who miss 5-8 days per year, and often the highest school-age of the girl would be 13 years old. Seeing that girls were experiencing what my mum had experienced growing up in Ghana over 50 years ago, I knew that there was something that could be done.
So in 2019, IGEA Enterprise was launched as an organization that wanted to advocate and support girls’ access to quality education at a local level. Our first program was called Menstruate and Educate with an aim to support girls attending school whilst on their period, by providing reusable period pads that last for up to two years and developing community workshops. We additionally launched a trial of our new project in Ghana working with the Girls Juvenile Home to run workshops on life skills and confidence as well as providing 80 reusable period pad kits.
NCVO Ghana: How have you been able to raise money for your project? -Can you tell us the who, where, when, and how...?
Sarah: Our most successful fundraising has happened via crowdfunding, using our networks and making new networks. In 2019 we were able to support 100 girls through our work and 250 community leaders, members, and teachers. In 2021, through a crowdfunding campaign, we successfully raised £8,000 to support the expansion project of Menstruate and Educate by supporting 550 girls in 9 schools in Bolgatanga through workshops and supply of reusable period products and 300 parents and teachers.
However, IGEA received its first fund of £1,000 through grant from a pitching competition we won. These were all achieved because we were able to show real proof-of-impact and that made understanding our vision and mission brief.
NCVO Ghana: Any top fundraising tip/advise(concluding statement)
Sarah: Other people will invest in your vision and cause when they can see why you are doing it. You need to be clear on your why and what the long-term impact will be and that those you wish to support have an input in the work.
Sarah Boateng is a Special Education Needs and Psychological Perspectives MA 2016 Graduate. Sarah career journey has been an experience, with starting out as a special education teaching assistant, to moving back to her home country of Ghana to work in a village, then working at the UN in Geneva and other large international development organisations to ending that career path to run her own NGO organisation called IGEA Enterprise, supported by the Obama Foundation and The Queens Commonwealth trust, and additionally working to design entrepreneurial programmes that support social entrepreneurs to increase their social impact.