Student Spotlight: See what’s happening with Regis MDP students!

Regis University MDP Student Entrepreneurs Host Sustainability Panel at IEEE Power Africa Conference in Accra, Ghana

Together and apart, Regis Master’s of Development Practice students Vera Asuamuzuah and Lindsey Bacon exemplify two strong characteristics of the MDP student body: entrepreneurship and collaboration. Lindsey came into the program having already founded Conscious Collaborative, a community development project that supports coastal fishing villages in Ghana with education and fair trade partnerships. As she got to know Vera, an enterprising healthcare professional who happened to be a native Ghanaian, inviting her to bring her skills and knowledge of the local language was a natural outgrowth of their study together as members of the MDP’s second cohort of students.

Vera began by agreeing to assist with women’s research and training at Conscious Collaborative. She says this early collaboration was unexpected, but felt right. As the two discussed how they would work together, circumstantial shifts presented new opportunities. Eventually, they founded Anansi, an impact sourcing business that will bring digital jobs to disadvantaged Ghanaian youth.

Anansi, named after the wise spider of Ghanaian folklore, is currently ramping up to launch a digital skills training program in computer-aided drafting (AutoCAD) software. The first round of graduates will be connected to contract assignments with a Denver-based architectural firm with which Lindsey has ties. The first class of students are part of the Conscious Collaborative network, and will take an active part in shaping Anansi’s training curriculum to assure contextual appropriateness.

Following in the mode of Conscious Collaborative, Anansi will partner with local development organizations. According to Lindsay, this approach entails solid rapport with communities, ensures the program is welcome, and supports sustainability. Too often, development projects “appear” in communities without prior association; the resulting lack of community support makes them very likely to fail. Vera learned the consequences of this flawed approach through the MDP, and feels compelled to do development differently as an Anansi leader.

Vera and Lindsey are confident the Anansi model will be sustainable because it will not rely solely on charitable contributions to support itself. Lindsey says that prior international development experience and Regis MDP classes have taught her that depending on donations indefinitely to operate is unrealistic. Therefore, Anansi’s programs will generate revenue to maintain operations. Donor contributions are part of the financial plan, she says, but will not be the sole source of organizational income.

Ultimately, Anansi aims to build a training center in Ghana that will offer a variety of digital skills training programs to prepare youth for employment in the impact-sourcing sector. Vera and Lindsey hope to expand their contractor network beyond Denver, with specific interest in locating West African companies to employ graduates.

Vera and Lindsey’s latest achievement is participation in a sustainable development panel at the International Electronics and Electrical Engineers (IEEE) Power Africa Conference in Accra, Ghana in June. The pair were joined by IEEE Smart Village founder Ray Larsen and Ghanaian community leaders to discuss social and environmental impacts of electrification, and how to move forward with sustainability in mind.

Now that’s what we call collaboration!

To learn more about Anansi.