Your Name: Derby Prakah-Asante

What do you do?: I am the Founding Director of Sheek Africa Group and Mercy Gives

Where are your organizations located?: Accra, Ghana

How did you get started in your field?: In 2014, with my love for concept development and management especially in events and projects, I registered my first company with the name DeeSheek Limited but it was quite defunct. In 2015, I chanced upon a Facebook advert about Philanthropy University, an online social impact university powered by Berkeley Haas School of Business, California,USA. I took a free course in Global Social Entrepreneurship and Leadership. Through the lectures and assignments, I got informed greatly about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) which gave rise to my passion to promote the SDGs especially Goal 5 - “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.”. This led to the birth of my NGO - Mercy Gives, my social business - Sheek Africa, and the initiation of the IGirl and IWoman projects under these organizations respectively.

Having experienced first-hand the importance of having a support system growing up as a girl-child survivor of 3rd degree burns, my work with these two projects enables my team and I to also be a support system to other women and girls. We promote gender equality from the point of first changing the mindset of girls and women so they believe in themselves to overcome stereotypes. We provide them with support services, technological skills, financial literacy, business development, management and soft skills training, while connecting them with mentors to help them succeed in their chosen leadership and career paths.

Tell us a bit more about your organizations: As mentioned earlier, there is Mercy Gives, a non-governmental organization through which I have initiated the IGirl project - a free skills development training targeted at girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 24 years with a low educational background.

Then there is the IWoman project under social enterprise Sheek Africa, for women 18 years and above but with a higher educational level, who we empower through conferences, meetups, practical business development and management training, leadership workshops, career coaching, and mentorship, as well as interviews of other accomplished and emerging business, nonprofit and political leaders. Sheek Africa also provides administrative, market entry support, logistics, human resource, events, project management, copywriting, graphic design and corporate branding services for startups and women-led organizations.

How did your education and previous experiences help you to become what you are today?: I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in French and Theatre Arts from the University of Ghana, but after graduating in 2012, I worked as Administrator and Projects Officer at African Bagg Group; African Bagg Recruitment, and Bayes Foundation. With this work experience in consulting, I also enrolled in thePublic Relations, Advertising and Marketing Professional training programme at the Ghana Institute of Journalism in 2013, to solidify my profession as a Development and Management Consultant

Is there anything else you are working on at this time?: The IWoman and the IGirl projects are quite packed, so that is what we are currently working on. IWoman is running a series of events and training and IGirl is being initiated in 32 girls’ senior high schools in Ghana for now. We are already done with schools in the Greater Accra Region and a school in Ashanti Region. We plan to be in the Western Region and the three northern regions before 2017 ends. So God be our help!

How do you define success?: Success is the fulfillment and joy you find within yourself with whatever endeavour you pursue, whether big or little. So to me success is a journey, it does not have an end point. Success grows with you, you can even fail in something at a point but that does not make you a failure but rather it is part of your success journey or unfolding story.

Who are your heroes and why?: My mom and all the amazing women and men impacting their generation despite all the challenges of the world. They inspire me to never give up or think I can’t make it. If they have done it, I definitely know I can do it too.

If you had to start your career/organizations all over again, what would you do differently?: I probably would just have one organization to have more focus but it is not too late, I would be merging soon -  not the NGO Mercy Gives, but my other two companies, DeeSheek and Sheek Africa.

What are the top qualities you would require in someone who wants to work with/for you?: Person of Integrity, Passionate, Teachable, Organized, Diligent, Committed and Compassionate. Those are the values I stand for, so you definitely got to have those or be willing to learn to be able to work with or for me.

What advice would you give to students, young professionals and aspiring changemakers/entrepreneurs?: Always stay true to yourself and your vision. Things can be hard but stay focused. It pays a lot.

For more information on Sheek Africa & Mercy Gives, visit the following links: