Kezia Asiedua, Founder and President of FTF Ghana speaks to BFT..
- … the story behind ‘For The Future Ghana’
It has been a cliché that helping those who are less fortunate best defines real human existence. But how many of us take time to help the less privileged children in our communities, even when we have the means to do so? This week’s Inspiring Start-ups narrates the story of For The Future Ghana (FTF), a charitable organisation mainly made up of young people with the aim of organising outreaches and projects to alleviate the plight of underprivileged children.
Read on as the founder, 22-year-old Kezia Asiedua Sanie, narrates how they are changing lives and making impacts in their communities.
Kezia, founder and president of For the Future Ghana, grew up in and around Darkuman and North Kaneshie in Accra. She is a product of Wesley Girls’ High School and the University of Ghana’s School of Law from where she will be graduating this September.
According to her, the ‘For The Future Ghana’ idea began in Senior High School when she felt the need to help children in deprived places, or start a charity organisation to support children who beg and sleep on the streets, and have no access to education.
“I have always wondered how children on the streets suffered the hardships of life by no fault of theirs; begging, sleeping on the streets, wearing old and tattered clothes, and sometimes going days without eating. It could have been me. No one gets to choose the parents or family they were born into. I am just privileged. Who would care for these children just my age who were not privileged? I remember how I used to plan with my friends back in Class 5, when I was as little as 9 years, how we were going to tell our parents we wanted to gather some items and give them out to the needy,” she said.
So, in her first year at Wesley Girls’ High School, she told her like-minded friends about the initiative and they ‘jumped’ on to it and were ready to help in any way.
According to her, the group informed a few teachers about the move and their English teacher, Miss. Elsie Lamptey – who had a charity organisation as well, allowed them to learn by attending outreaches with her. Kezia also told her family and they have been supportive ever since.
“So, I started FTF with a few friends back in Wesley Girls’ High School in 2016 after the idea dropped in my spirit. I had always wanted to start a charity. It’s more like my calling, and the one thing I am most passionate about and do so easily. We say that children are the future. If we extended a helping hand to underprivileged children, we will be making a possible impact for the future,” she noted.
The organisation now has Aaron Yeboah, Abena Osae, Christyne Pampoe, Angela Bentum, Paul Adjaklo, Magnus Ofuatey-Kodjoe, Priscilla Kumi, Maame Aba Arhinmah, Emmanuel Gaze, Justina Bosomtwi-Ayensu, Michelle Sosu, Derrick Abbeyquaye and Mirabel Mensah as leaders.
For The Future Ghana (FTF)
FTF is currently running two initiatives – the ShareAid Initiative and the Student Training and Education Project (STEP). After four years of running FTF, the team concluded that the real impact they sought to achieve was not in the one-day donations they had done in the past, hence the addition of these programmes.
“Though those were great, after we gave the children the goodies and spent quality time with them we left them still in the same situation we found them. We wanted to be more present in the children’s lives, so we started the Student Training and Education Project (STEP). Through this initiative we identify underprivileged children, sponsor their education, ensure their total well-being and monitor the progress they have made. We currently have 12 children we are taking care of fully. We identified these children in slums, harsh and unpleasant conditions; but all of them have improved since we started helping them. We pay regular visits to them in school and at home, and provide all their needs,” Kezia said.
The aim is to nurture all these children and the ones we are yet to add to the programme into ethical leaders who can make a difference in their communities irrespective of their social backgrounds.
The ‘Sponsor A Child’ programme is FTF’s newest initiative to complement STEP. The ultimate aim of this programme is to ride on the shoulders of corporations and well-meaning individuals with an interest in the education and development of underprivileged children in Ghana.
On July 21, 2021, For the Future Ghana also launched the ShareAid initiative to partner with NGOs and corporate bodies to partake in projects in line with the organisation’s mission and vision. The partnership has seen the organisation donate over 600 schoolbags filled with stationery, hygiene kits and a water-bottles to Bomigo E.P Basic School in Keta, Volta Region; Huapa Basic School; and the Asutsuare Basic School, all in very remote areas outside Accra.
The FTF vision is to expand its community beyond pioneers and members, by including stakeholders and beneficiaries to join them in the quest to create and develop a society that is more ethical, innovative and open to change.
“We have already started paying for a 5-acre piece of land in the plush green ridges of the Akuapem area since launching the FTF Village project. In the next five years, we hope to start with phase-one of construction for this holistic resource centre and home for underprivileged children from all over the country. We will start with the educational facility and accommodation block, such that some homeless, underprivileged children can start moving in,” Kezia said.
The organisation seeks to sponsor these children through school while helping them discover themselves. It will equip them with the necessary skills according to their strengths by linking them with resource persons in various fields, in which some of its members are being trained.
Kezia says funding is a significant issue for the organisation. She said it has constrained the group, especially when people approach them with heartbreaking stories of children who desperately need help – particularly in rural areas.
How government can support start-ups
Speaking on how government can support start-ups like hers, she said: “Government already has a Ministry of Social Protection and a Department of Social Welfare. Thus, they can partner organisations like FTF to reach and achieve their vision and develop the country through a joint effort. There should be partnerships between local governments (MMCDs) and NGOs to undertake projects in communities where government has been unsuccessful in reaching”.
She urged government to include NGOs in its initiatives, because doing so will encourage support from local and foreign donors; thus facilitating the organisation’s growth and sustainability.
“There should also be regulations for the NGO space to ensure there is a set of best practices. This may help in terms of preventing many NGOs from collapsing. We also need the help of many professionals who can help in construction of the FTF Village and the children’s development as well,” she said.
“Everyone is born with a special gift. It takes opportunities and destiny-helpers to unearth these inborn gifts and polish them for the good of society. I believe that investing in our human resources is one of the ways to promote development in Ghana; and through initiatives like the ones we have in FTF, it is possible to have great men and women in Ghana coming from the most unexpected places.”
Economic empowerment for women
She said women’s empowerment is crucial today because they are expected to contribute more to the home financially, unlike in the past when they were not actively working to earn money.
“Equipping them with skills for ‘side-hustles’ and other economic activities is key. At FTF, all our beneficiaries have single mothers who struggle to make ends meet. Through our intervention, we have taken a lot of the burden off these mothers by paying their children’s fees, providing stationeries, school uniforms, provisions and toiletries, engaging private tutors for after school, and giving them pocket money.”
Advice for prospective entrepreneurs
Kezia’s advice to anyone aspiring to be an entrepreneur is that the person must first believe in himself or herself.
She added that the individual must have clear-cut goals, saying that doing anything in this world without this is like embarking on a journey with no predetermined destination.
“If you do not believe in yourself in the first place, it will be difficult to achieve anything. Be driven by your passion and purpose. Make your mission, vision and target group (beneficiaries) clear right from the start. Doing anything in this world without a clear-cut goal is like going on a journey with no set-out destination.
“What is the point of going on the journey then? Work with trusted friends and family before you add on strangers later. Use your social media very well, because it is a great tool for reaching people who can support your work. Be consistent in your work. Lastly, do not despise small beginnings. Start small with whatever resources are available to you, and as time goes on you can expand,” she said.