The Akaa Project: Grassroots Done Right
The Akaa Project was started by then college student Lauren Grimanis in 2008. She took the idea of affecting change in rural Africa and created a campus-wide movement. The movement then spread to a full-fledged and funded non-profit organization.
The Project works within the Akaa region of eastern Ghana, working directly with poverty-stricken families in Ghana to alleviate poverty and promote self-reliance. The Project team works to improve the health, education and financial well-being of the village families. Their on-the-ground efforts create concrete change in the community’s day-to-day life.
Major projects have included building a school, enabling access to healthcare, and enhancing the community’s access to finance through micro-loans and small business initiatives. The Akaa Project involves the community in all decisions, projects, and initiatives, and works to ensure the community is involved and empowered through the organization.
Akaa’s founder Lauren Grimanis graduated from The College of Wooster in 2012. She majored in Global Development and Management. She was able to travel to South Asia to learn from social entrepreneurs and NGOs to best understand the most practical practices for rural development.
During her time at Wooster, Lauren and a group of dedicated students developed a strategy to engage the small liberal arts community at the college. They sold handmade village jewelry in the bookstore, organized dodge ball tournaments and dances, and made customized sunglasses to help fundraise. Several College of Wooster students were also able to travel to Ghana to volunteer in the community. They were able to not only spread the word about their organization throughout the college, but also spread knowledge of global poverty and development needs in Ghana and the developing world as a whole.
Lauren’s efforts translated into a school with six classrooms, six teachers, and an educational advisor. Seventy-five children are able to attend on a daily basis. The organization has plans for future expansion. Lauren was also able to install two borehole water wells, placing women at the center of the decision making process. Additionally, the Akaa Project sponsors child and infant nutrition awareness clinics, sexual health education, and condom distribution, among other services. The Akaa Project has also been able to provide eleven micro-loans to women in Akaa, helping to empower women in the community.
For an organization of their size, the Akaa Project is taking substantial leaps forward in providing real development to a marginalized and vulnerable community. They are looking to expand their future operations to bordering communities to help as many people as they can.
– Caitlin Zusy
Source: The Akaa Project