Innovation vs. Invention in Ghana

A second year student participating in the first workshop of the Humber Team in Takoradi.

This week, my fellow YCI volunteers and I completed our first workshop on entrepreneurship with the students at the YMCA Vocational Training Institute, our local partner here in Takoradi, Ghana. Last week we administered a pre-test with the students to see what knowledge they already had on the subject of innovation vs. invention. While there were a few students who had a slight understanding of the topic, most students had no previous knowledge on the subject. The purpose of this workshop was to get the students thinking about what it means to be innovative and to help them think of innovative ways to generate customers when they own their own businesses in the future.  When they began to understand the material, we were able to generate discussion with them, and they were able to explain and give us examples of invention, innovation and value.  This is one of our greatest successes so far on project.

Alisha and Christa with the 3rd years while they do the activity.

After the lecture portion of the workshop, I explained the activity that we were going to do with the students to get them to apply the material they had just learned.  I asked the students to imagine that they owned their own business. I asked them to come up innovative ideas to help draw in customers and to make their business stand out from the rest. The students were given time in groups to come up with 5 innovative ideas, and we had a discussion afterwards. The students came up with a lot of good ideas, and this activity got them thinking about how being innovative can help them in their future.

Alisha explaining the activity with the first year students.

When preparing for our workshops, we knew that we would be working with limited resources. We made sure to always have a backup plan, which is something our Senior Program Manager, Fred, has taught us. We had prepared a PowerPoint presentation to conduct the workshop. However, with frequent power outages, we wanted to make sure that we had an alternate way of displaying the information. Our first workshop went smoothly, but the outlets in the next two rooms didn’t work, so we weren’t able to plug in the laptop and projector. We had written the information out on flip chart in case something like that happened. We also made sure to bring lined paper and extra pens to the workshops in case the students did not have their own supplies. Being prepared is one of the biggest things I’ve learned when conducting a workshop with limited resources.

Alanna explaining the difference between innovation and invention.

At the YMCA, there are several teachers that we have been working with, and who have been very kind and supportive to us. Before we conducted the student workshops, we did a presentation with the teachers, to make sure that they understood the material we were teaching their students. During the workshop, if the students didn’t fully understand us, the teachers, Nana, Gloria and Rhoda, stepped in and were very helpful in explaining the material. It was very good to have them there to support us when the students didn’t understand, or were getting too rowdy. Amelia, the principal of the YMCA school, has also been very helpful to us and has made us feel very comfortable while at the school. Last week we had a PE day with the girls, where we got to do some exercises and activities with them. We had a dance circle where I showed the girls my Azonto skills, and they taught me some more dance moves. It was a great experience spending time with the students outside of the classroom, and getting to know them better. So far I have had a really great experience working with the teachers and students at the YMCA, and I am excited to continue working with them.

-Alisha Kalniak, Youth Ambassador (Humber Youth Leadership Team), Ghana 2012

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