Grassroot Hub (Phinklife Institute)

How do you accelerate growth and incubate ideas for poor people? We are a physical grassroot hub which focus on developing local assets in rural communities. We continue to create opportunities for youths, starting from junior high schools to University students and professionals in the public and private sectors. 

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About This Innovation

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We have successfully piloted several training programs and innovative workshops with local communities, starting from junior high schoolers to professionals. Due to the enviromental constraints, the people in rural communities have very poor financial status to pay for training, however all of the participants (including those who are uneducated and cannot speak English) have expressed keen interests to take part in our services.

In 2016 with several global partners, we conducted an economic research project and innovative workshops across 3 major cities in Ghana, reaching over 200 changemakers and leaders in the social spaces. We have also assisted in the creation of the Social Entrepreneurs Network (SE Ghana, funded by British council and Reach for Change) and African youth in Philanthropy Network in Ghana. 

Currently, our main operations depend on partnership projects and initiatives, and small donor support to become financially sustainable. We are looking for mentors and impact investors to help us craft a more financial sustainable strategy which is specific to rural demographics. 

How does your innovation work?

Most of the social accelerators and incubators work with established organizations and structures in big cities. Our team understand that this yields effective impact and return of investments, however we want to create a new model for generating social impact and innovations in rural communities. Our main demographic make less than $1/day, and resides in outskirts of towns and villages. 

We established ourselves as a community hub, where youths and families can access at all times to leverage our training, consultations and global network. In rural Ghana, access for youth to education are scarce, and community centers with skill training ceased to exist. We have taken a blended approach as vocational school and innovation hub into a community-driven facility. 

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

In our two years of research and program piloting, we have implemented many successful projects and established partnerships with mutiple local and global entities. One of the key elements to develop rural communities is establishing strong relationships with local chiefs and governments, and we have demostrated such capacities - along side in developing youth in philanthropy network supported by WINGs and African Philanthropy Network (former African Grantmakers network). Our community model is one of its first in Kenyasi, and through our experience we have formulated partnerships with World Economic Forum to be a part of the global shapers network and also with Nexus Global. We are now seeking to raise sufficient funds to launch our venture

Do you have current users or testers?

We have ongoing partnerships with local organizations and NGOs, mainly operating in Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions, along with institution partners and foundations residing in Kumasi and Accra. We have alot piloted our training with small scale groups (25 individuals) to large scale communities (with 2,000 youths in a high school) and have received tremendous feedback. In 2016 we have also launched several design workshops with young leaders and changemakers (over 200+ participants) in both developed and rural cities.

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

We have established working partnerships with global networks and organizations, such as Acumen Fund, UNDP, Foundation Center, USAID, Nexus, SE Ghana, French Embassy, Nordics SOCAP, and African philanthropic foundations to mobilize resources, conversations and projects implementation. While continuing to develop global relationships, we also experiment program design on social entrepreneurship and workshops with Ghanian universities like KNUST and CSCU. 

While we have piloted the hub in Kenyasi 2, a rural town on the northwest region of Ghana, we explore working relationships with hubs in Kumasi and Accra, which are two major cities in Ghana. In 2016, with Brazilian government and foundation funding, we conducted a project, Impact Journey, to connect with multiple stakeholders involved in social change and economic development. In 2017, we have initiated discussions with local government and policy makers to create community centers, a model with incubator, cosharing spaces and program trainings. Through our international work, we are also incubating a local tailor's business by mentoring her with business knowledge, and connecting her services to Brazil.

We understand that a collaborative and open approach is neccessary to our successes in rural environment to reduce our own asset and infrastructure development, and to continue to bring global resources to increase positive impacts for the local communities.

Next Steps

As we continue to subsidize vocational education to youths on social entrepreneurship and practical skills training, and mobilize community development, there are two major areas of development towards our venture. 1. Establish partners to create youth impact fund ($250,000 and up) to provide philanthropic support and microfinancing for youth projects. 
2. Develop a concrete and financially sustainable model for the community hub and iterate with feedback, then replicate in other rural regions with national partners