It is common knowledge that Africa needs a lot of skilled and expertly trained talent for its development. At the same time, Africa also suffers terribly from brain-drain resulting in a skewed development. Enter Ato Ulzen-Appiah. This MIT and Stanford graduate realized that the Ghanaians that are worth celebrating usually live and work in Ghana. They toil daily to try and solve the many troubles that plague the country. He realized that if he wanted to take up the cause of building his homeland, the only way was to come to the homeland and solve the problems from inside out.
Ato Ulzen-Appiah was born and bred in Ghana but left to study Civil Engineering in MIT, followed by Engineering Management at Stanford University. He worked at both Rancard and Google as a program manager. He is also a consultant for the World Bank and a member of Global Shapers Alumni, part of the World Economic Forum community.
With this impressive resume, Ato knew that there was more to be done for the development of his beloved Ghana. Taking the basic tools of project execution he learnt in his engineering studies, and coupling it with his IT skills, creative mind and digital media marketing; Ato decided to become an influencer and thought builder. This passion has led to the networking of more than 10,000 people and various collaborations in media, design, Tech, social change and entrepreneurship.
Ato’s approach was unique. He joined others to set out to mobilize a sizable talent pool of experts for Ghana. To achieve this, they started the GhanaThink Foundation, a social enterprise that organizes events, communities and media movements for the purpose of building a network of change makers. Thus, fuelled by Barcamp Africa which he attended in California in 2008, Ato and a team set about organizing the Barcamp Ghana event and has not looked back since. It is a free networking forum geared towards young people between the ages of 18 and 35. Barcamp Ghana’s mandate is to get these young people to share ideas, network and mentor each other in the hopes of harnessing their capacities and encouraging them to think better.
The success of Ato Ulzen-Appiah’s enterprise is the impact on young people. Tech Needs Girls, Ghana Makers, REACH Ghana, Ahonya, KK Hub, and Afro Chic are part of the success of Barcamp. Hopefully, it will not stop there. GhanaThink envisions to create a critical mass of young Ghanaians who are “patriotic, passionate, positive, progressive, proactive and productive.” With this goal in mind, Ghana Think has organized 69 Barcamps in all the regions in Ghana since 2008. With such a generation set to run the country in the near future, the possibilities are promising.
MAKING GHANA THINK
Apart from Barcamp Ghana, GhanaThink has also developed Museke, Kasahorow, ReachGhana, Tech Camp West Africa, the Ghana Youth Social Enterprise Competition, FiestaDebate, the Ghana Volunteer Program and others.
Named as one of the 50 most influential young Ghanaians and earning a feature in the Coca Cola Ghana @60 year book (60 Coca-Cola Young Achievers), Ato Ulzen-Appiah’s passion to empower our generation is worth every feature.