In December 2011, Ariel Johnson of the track and field team and Allegra Wilde of the softball team participated in the Africa Start-Up program organized in part by faculty athletic representative Sarah Bee, a senior lecturer of accounting within the Albers School of Business and Economics.
The mission of Africa Start-Up is to alleviate extreme poverty through a global student initiative to provide training for sustainable business growth. This is accomplished by empowering business owners in Africa to take ownership of poverty alleviation efforts, by enhancing the civic duty of students in both the United States and Africa with the motivation to make change, and by creating a model that can be duplicated throughout Africa's small business communities.
Here is a first-person account from Ariel Johnson, a senior from Moscow, Idaho, majoring in accounting:
Ghana was a life changing experience. First of all, I was chosen along with Allegra as the two students from Albers to work on Africa Start-Up, I felt extremely lucky to be able to have such a great experience. Working with Africa Start-Up and Sarah Bee showed me just how much Seattle University emulates 'working for a just and humane world.'
Ghana is a country full of people who are trying to make ends meet and do everything with a smile. I loved having the opportunity to survey and talk with Ghanian college students, they are so bright and want to change their country for the better. Ghana is a colorful place, with people carrying their most prize possessions on their backs and heads. Africa Start-Up is providing college students the ability and curriculum to help their local business owners with basic business education. By going to Ghana, we were able to identify a college group of students who we will be training this August.
Seattle University has taught me that we need to help those in need, whether small or large, any help is better than none. I believe that Africa Start-Up is helping college students in Africa build up their volunteer work by helping owners improve their businesses. I can't explain in words how beautiful this trip was.
Allegra Wilde is a junior from Kennewick, Wash., also majoring in accounting. This is her reflection on the experience with Africa Start-Up:
Sarah Bee has had a tremendous impact on my education, and traveling with her and my friend, Ariel Johnson, on behalf of Africa Start-Up was an extremely humbling experience that will surely remain one of the highlights of my life.
As an Africa Start-Up student ambassador, having the opportunity to incorporate my education into a hands-on project was challenging but extremely rewarding. Launching this project and building relationships with college students in Ghana allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of both the global business world as well as international culture.
Assisting small business owners though sharing knowledge and creating sustainable structure for their business has been an enriching life experience that I hope to stay involved with throughout the remainder of my time here at Seattle University. Africa Start-Up has a bright future ahead as the group goes back in August to implement the training sessions in full. Africa Start-Up portrays what this University is all about; creating leaders for a just and humane world with a focus on social justice.