The Executive Women Network (EWN) embarked on a journey to lift as they rise, nurturing the next generation of leaders in a sustainable way using a vehicle they have dubbed EWN Ellevate. This long-term CSR initiative has officially been launched in Tamale in the Northern Region of Ghana.
The launch activities, which occurred over a two-day period- starting Friday 20th January to Saturday 21st January 2023, saw a little over 450 students and women entrepreneurs in attendance.
In October 2021, the Executive Women Network hosted its 5th Anniversary Conference under the theme, “Impacting Women Leaders: Inspiring Lessons”, where they first introduced EWN Ellevate to the public, as one of their new initiatives.
The Executive Women Network has been in operation for the past six (6) years. Looking ahead, the network decided that now is the perfect time to introduce EWN Ellevate- an engine through which they can establish their presence within different regions across Ghana, to create more impact. The aim of EWN Ellevate is to empower young girls within secondary and tertiary institutions with knowledge, skills and confidence and to guide them to both find and build on their true interests and passions.
To “Elevate” means to raise or lift something or someone to a higher position. This is exactly what the network aims to achieve through this project- to raise young girls to become future leaders. They went a step further to add a catchy twist to the name by incorporating the French word “Elle” which is a female pronoun to clearly reflect their target group for this project. Professor Effah Kauffmann was also unveiled as the Key patron of Ellevate.
The weekend events started with a visit to the Palace of The Paramount Chief of the Sagnarigu Traditional Area-Naa Ambassador Yakubu Abdulai by some members of the Executive Women Network. Whilst there, the EWN Delegation- led by Mrs. Janet Sunkwa-Mills, Host of TV3’s Todays Woman, GMB Judge and EWN Executive Committee Member debriefed the Chief about their mission in Tamale to launch the EWN Ellevate Project. The Chief responded positively to their intentions and emphasized his commitment to female empowerment and as such assured EWN of his position to stand strongly behind Ellevate to ensure that it makes the full impact it has been designed to make.
On Friday evening, the ladies of EWN hosted a Women’s Empowerment Summit for some of the older women within the Tamale community. In a panel discussion moderated by Khadija Abdul-Samed, Speakers Professor Elsie Effah Kaufmann, Hajia Fathiya Imoro and Hajia Zenabu Sulemana, shared personal stories of their individual journeys to success so far as a way to inspire and empower those in attendance.
Professor Effah Kaufmann urged everyone in attendance to not be paralyzed by fear, but to ask themselves each time “What’s the worst that can happen?” and keep going. Speaking from a personal place, Hajia Zenabu shared that “Failure is an experience. I failed so many times, but because I knew and believed in myself, I did not let failure stop me from becoming what I wanted to be.” Hajia Fathiya also shared that despite the ups and downs that life threw her way, she was determined to stay focused on her dreams. She therefore urged all those present to stay focused and strive towards their dreams.
The main launch event was hosted on Saturday, 21st January 2023 in the Andani Hall of the University of Development Studies campus through the kind assistance of the schools WOCOM and the UDS Dean of Students- Dr. Musah Alhassan.
In attendance were Professor Elsie Effah Kaufmann- Key Patron of EWN Ellevate, Naa Ambassador Yakubu Abdulai- The Paramount Chief of the Sanarigu Traditional Area, Hajia Dr Kansawurche Azara Bukari- Queen Mother, Bole Traditional Area & President of the Savannah Region Queen Mothers Association, Mr. Alhassan Alidu- GES Northern Region Director, Dr. Musah Alhassan- UDS Dean of Students, and Teiya Ayisha Dahamani- Winner, Ghana’s Most Beautiful 2022 & Ellevate Northern Region Brand Ambassador, EWN Executive Committee and Members.
In her remarks, Professor Effah Kaufmann stressed the importance of having women equally involved in the process of problem solving as a way of generating holistic solutions. She encouraged the girls to always strive for excellence. Using herself as an example she said “Whenever I was given an opportunity, I always made sure I understood what was expected of me, and would go the extra mile. That’s what excellence is.”
The Paramount Chief of the Sagnarigu Traditional Area commended the Executive Women Network for bringing the initiative to the North as he strongly believes it will help bridge the educational gap between the North and the South of Ghana for women and young girls.
The Northern Regional GES Director- Mr. Alhassan Alidu, who chaired the launch event, also expressed his warm acceptance of the EWN Ellevate pilot in the North and looks forward to all the positive change it will bring to the girls within the secondary and tertiary institutions.
Through the able assistance of Hajia Alimatu Sagito, who is the CEO of SWIBA Ghana and Rhoda Wedam- CEO of Songba Empowerment Center, a total of 300 students have signed up so far to be part of the project’s pilot from across 5 schools namely, Dabokpa Technical Institute, Kalpohine SHS, Ambariya SHS, University of Development Studies, and Tamale Training College.
Speaking on EWN Ellevate moving forward, Mrs Antoinette Kwofie, EWN Ellevate Project Lead and a Member of the EWN Executive Committee highlighted a few key structures that have been put in place to ensure the sustainability of EWN Ellevate including grouping the students into “tribes” (to foster the building of strong relationships and experiences in smaller groups that enable them to encourage each other), appointment of regional mentors to head each tribe, experiential learning trips, and quarterly visits of key resource persons to the North to interact with the girls. She also appreciated all the partners who came on board to give both financially and in kind. She reiterated in Jackie Robinson’s words that “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”- And that is what Ellevate seeks to do, to create a positive impact in many lives, one at a time.
EWN is a non-profit organization that was officially launched on April 19th 2016, and over the past six (6) years the network has made great strides in its mandate to inspire, empower and support women executives to be successful and influential both at the local and international level.
EWN is currently made up of over 180 leading women, with over 140 corporate women in senior management and executive positions of private and public sector organizations, and over 40 women entrepreneurs of well-established businesses in Ghana.