Founder and President of the Agbogblo.Shine Initiative, a social enterprise, Joseph Awuah-Darko has been awarded the Most Promising Social Enterprise award by the West Africa Business Excellence Awards.
Young Awuah-Darko caught the attention of organisers after he was profiled on the Inspiring Startups page of B&FT, which is dedicated to promoting hard-working and innovative entrepreneurs in the country.
His Agboblo.Shine Initiative seeks to apply design-thinking toward mitigating the prevalent environmental degradation at Agbogbloshie – a suburb of Accra that has become the largest hub for electronic waste in Africa.
Commenting on what the award means to him, Mr. Awuah-Darko said it is “a feather in the cap” which inspires him to continue with what he has started.
“I am deeply humbled that someone as young as myself has been validated in this capacity for my efforts in the field of social entrepreneurship. With regard to my efforts in the field of social entrepreneurship, one should know that the ‘Agbogblo.Shine’ is fairly young—barely two years.
“And that brings me to reflect on the impact of what we are trying to achieve on the dump-site and mitigating the prevalent environmental degradation there, and how we are also combatting the corresponding social economic issue. So, it is really overwhelming to be recognised by the West Africa Business Excellence Awards as one of the youngest to win this award,” he said.
He used the opportunity to thank all those who believed in the dream and helped it become a reality, especially the Ashesi University and Agbogblo.Shine team for their invaluable help.
“I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Ashesi University. It has been very instrumental in providing me the foundation that I was able to build on. Through the university, we received funding from the Ford University. Then, also, the human resources of lecturers and mentors who have guided our work.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the efforts of Patrick Awuah, President of Ashesi University. He has been quite instrumental in mentoring our team and efforts and inspired our direction as a social enterprise. He has been a real resource regarding how to solve problems and resource mobilisation.
“Most importantly, my team at Ashesi—the Agbogblo.Shine team. My co-founder and the rest of the team. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this without them,” he said.
The West Africa Business Excellence Awards (WABEA) provide a platform to recognise individuals and companies which play a significant role in the development of various sectors in the West Africa region to attract investors into West Africa.
The Awards also recognise the industry’s merits and set a benchmark for excellence, while rewarding innovative ideas that have pushed the boundaries of what is possible.
Mr. Awuah-Darko said the award is just the beginning of good things to come, as he will devise more innovative means to improve on the initiative – urging other young entrepreneurs not to fear failure.
“I am going to continue rigorously pursuing our agenda toward combatting environmental degradation at Agbogbloshie. I am still dedicated to finding new ways through design-thinking that are more scalable, and how to go about it in a way that empowers the people at Agbogbloshie.
“And to also continue inspiring more people who may have the fear of failure. I have probably failed 21 times in different enterprises, but people don’t normally say that; however, failure is an important part of success,” he said.