Winifred Awinpoya is an active 19 years old young woman from Ghana, whose life turned drastically after participating at the first Start Up Academy in Ghana in January 2019, organized by Junior Achievement Ghana in partnership with Aiduation International and Swiss Re. She is now a proud student of the African Leadership University in Rwanda, studying Global Challenges, with a focus in Environmental and Wildlife Conversation.
Born in Bongo, in the far north of Ghana in 2000, she is the second born of a family of four children. “Where I come from, girl child education is not a priority to most families. My father, who is a teacher in a basic school in my community believed otherwise, and gave me as much exposure as opportunity like the boys had”, explains Winifred. She was then challenged to prove him right, and encourage other girls to do the same.
After years of hard work and dedication at school, she was the first person in her family to reach University level and even better, she was granted a scholarship at the African Leadership University (ALU) in Rwanda, one of the most acclaimed universities in Africa.
Despite this grant, much expense was still accounted to her family such as flight ticket, accommodation visa and health insurance, expenses that her family could not afford. ”My scholarships from the African Leadership University were insufficient” says Winifred. So Winifred was encouraged to summit her application to the Young Leader Varsity Grant by Aiducation and was the first beneficiary of this grant, which covers the cost of her ticket to Kigali and the accommodation and health insurance in Rwanda. “Without this scholarship from Aiducation, my admission and scholarships from ALU would have meant nothing because my parents could not afford to pay for the extra expenses”, she explains.
How it all started: The Start up Academy
As a Mastercard scholar from a CAMFED initiative in her region, she one day saw the message about the Start Up Academy in Ghana and decided the join. “I had always followed the activities of JA Ghana on social media and I was inspired by all the stories of the amazing young people who were bold to disrupt their communities with innovations and solutions and of course those posts made me believe that I could do same”, she says. Winifred applied to participate and was one of fifty selected young Ghanaians to participate in the first Start Up Academy in Ghana.
Speaking about the Academy she says: “It exposed me to an external network of change makers on the shared platform of GYLA some of whom have joined my current project”.
Thanks to the help of Aiducation International, Winifred is now pursuing her studies at the ALU. And she is already proving her leadership potential, only a few months after she commenced her studies at ALU, she used her passion for the protection of our environment and started the “Conservation Leaders Initiative. She says: “The mentorship and support of GYLA, cushioned me to start Conversation Leaders, a community driven initiative propelled by young people who are pioneering environmental sustainability in the world. Our members organize cleanups, training programs and outreaches to sensitize their local communities about environmental conservation as sustainability. I believe it was through these efforts that I won the scholarship”, she concludes.
No doubt, Winifred is passionate environmentalist and nature lover who eager to create a more sustainable Africa and that she will achieve her dreams.
See how Winifred is doing at ALU today:
Written by Florence Seabra and Alexandra Spälti