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Mr. Awuah wondered what it would be like if Africans didn’t feel that they had to leave the continent to get an excellent education. After working for Microsoft and completing an MBA at UC-Berkeley Mr. Awuah returned to Ghana in 1997 intent on establishing an outstanding institute of higher education. A few years later he founded a liberal arts undergraduate institution with a focus on ethical leadership called Ashesi University.
Due to his fine work with Ashesi, Mr. Awuah has been named the fourth most respected CEO in Ghana and Ashesi has been ranked as one of the top 10 Most Respected Companies in Ghana. Mr. Awuah was invited to give a TED Global talk in June 2007 and his dream for higher education in Ghana was featured on BBC news Africa in October 2011. He was the subject of a feature on CNN’s African Voices in May 2013 and was recognized at WISE the Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha, Qatar in November 2014. I had the good fortune to meet Mr. Awuah in February 2014 when he was awarded a Medal for Entrepreneurial Leadership at Elon University, where I teach about Africa and international development.
Mr. Awuah is also an Integral Fellow finalist and an Aspen Global Fellow. In 2015, Mr. Awuah won the extremely prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, also known as the ‘genius award,’ for his work with Ashesi. Ashesi is thriving. In late 2015, it received a $700,000 grant from USAID American Schools and Hospitals Abroad for equipment for its engineering classrooms and laboratories. The university is currently fundraising to build a new student dormitory.