Kasei OAK Foundation is an NGO that administers youth employment and migrant reintegration projects in Ghana. We focus primarily on agriculture, technical, and vocational skills in our youth enterprise incubation projects.
OAK is an acronym derived from the official registered name of the organization – OKODIE AKWANTUO KUO – an Ashanti Twi (Ghana language) expression which translates loosely as JOURNEY OF EAGLES.
OAK Foundation started in 2013 as PAM Girls Advancement Club (PAMGAD). The club was the brainchild of Portia Agyei Yeboah, whose burning passion for the education and career development of young girls from poor homes, was nurtured out of the circumstances of her own childhood.
Portia grew up in a family so poor they could not afford to put her in school from an early age. She was later given to an extended family member who promised to educate her. However, this family member handed her to a petty trader in Northern Ghana as a servant. While her peers were in school, Portia spent her days fetching firewood from forests and hawking foodstuffs in the open markets of Tamale.
After five years of servitude, Portia’s family found her and sent her to stay with an uncle who was a Pastor of the Church of Christ. She started primary school at age eleven and through sheer determination, hard work and the magnanimity of benefactors, she was able complete Senior High school and gain entry to the University of Ghana, where she studied for a Bachelors of Arts Degree.
Research in Ghana confirms a high drop-out rate among young females as a result of financial difficulties and early pregnancy. Current drop-out rate of young females in Senior High Schools is estimated at 40%. So, mindful of the circumstances of her own childhood and the dangers young girls who are out of school face, Portia felt an urgent need to do something to mitigate this problem. She therefore got a few friends to come together to form a club called ‘Passion to Mentor for Girls’ Advancement’ (PAMGAD). Their objective was to mentor and provide financial support to ensure that girls from disadvantaged communities stay in school and excel in their academic work.
After graduating from the University of Ghana, Portia realized that her passion still lay in volunteerism and not-for-profit work. Consequently she invited her friend, Mavis Durowaa Mainu, who she had worked with on the PAMGAD project, to join her to form an NGO called OKODIE AKWANTUO KUO (OAK Foundation). Portia and Mavis set up OAK Foundation with the vision to be the foremost NGO responsible for sponsoring the education and professional development of disadvantaged young women in Africa.
After three formative years, OAK Foundation established a social enterprise division, first to raise funds to support its charity work, but more importantly to promote agriculture and agribusiness as vehicles for economic empowerment of young women. Furthermore, it serves as a platform for delivering its objective of growing professional women in Africa.
In Ghana, in line with trends in many African countries, there is high drop-out from school among female students as a result of pregnancy and financial difficulties. Current drop-out rate of young females in Senior High Schools, particularly in rural and low income communities is estimated at 40%. In the year 2013 alone, 750,000 female teenagers in Ghana became pregnant; and a substantial number of these girls dropped out of school. The negative impacts of this social problem on the young girls, their off-springs, families and society at large are obvious.
Even when young women are able to attain education up to tertiary level, their representation among entrepreneurial workforce is challenged by a myriad of factors. The challenges young females face in setting up their own businesses relate to financial, logistical and access to opportunities.
OAK Foundation Ghana works to address these challenges and mitigate their negative impacts on society.
Our Vision, Mission, Objectives and Strategies
Our vision is to be the foremost NGO responsible for sponsoring the education and professional development of disadvantaged young women in Africa.
Our mission is to make highly educated professionals of young women from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds in Africa.
We aim to achieve our vision and mission through the following strategic platforms:
- Institutionalized Girls’ Clubs in Senior High Schools and Communities
- Young women social groups & volunteers in tertiary institutions
- Agribusiness incubator projects focused on young female graduates
- Entrepreneurship initiatives for young female graduates
OAK Foundation ensures that young girls from disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances enroll and excel in school, and ultimately make it to a tertiary institution. In turn, this ensures that we support young girls to become highly educated professional women. We do this by mentoring young school girls, supporting them with their academic work and implementing financial assistance and scholarship schemes for our target communities.
OAK Foundation also aims to produce professional women entrepreneurs in productive sectors of the Ghanaian economy. We do this by providing opportunities for young women enrolled in tertiary institutions to participate in Professional & Career Development, Civic & Leadership, Coaching & Mentoring and Volunteering programmes. In addition, we facilitate the formation and operation of female graduate business-units, particularly in Agriculture and AgriBusiness.
OAK Foundation delivers its work through:
- Enterprise initiatives for returnees, unemployed, and under-employed young persons.
- Women’s social groups, cooperatives, and volunteer associations;
- Agribusiness and vocational incubator projects benefiting the youth;
- Small-holder farmers and marginalized youth segments;