Begin it Now: The Inspirational Success of Ashesi University in Accra, Ghana

Ashesi (which means “beginning” in a local language) is a remarkable private university begun in 2002 by a returning Ghanaian expatriate, Patrick Awuah. A recent column in the Seattle Times interviewed Awuah and profiled the university: “So far, its four graduating classes have had a 100 percent placement rate. Most graduates have stayed in Africa, and some have even started companies that are hiring Ashesi students.”

Half of the students are on scholarship. I have visited Ashesi myself on several occasions and have been humbled and inspired by the dynamism of the students and faculty.

Awuah said he was inspired by the words of Goethe: "If there is anything you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now."

Now the campus is expanding rapidly, building on success. The Ashesi website gives its vision: “to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others and the courage it will take to transform a continent.”

Despite widespread international publicity as a homegrown success, Ashesi has yet to receive a single dollar of official aid (one famous official aid agency turned Awuah down when he refused to raise his student-teacher ratios to what he saw as unacceptable levels).