LEI Match – 6 Days & $3000 to Go!

We always say that our youth are our biggest testimonials. Felix and Esther’s story is yet another example that reassures us that we are on the right track to achieve our 2020 target of ‘Impacting 1 Million Lives’. When we witness the youth in our LEI Program constantly do their bit to ‘pay it forward’ & support their communities, we can’t help but feel proud.

Felix Nampaso and Esther Muntet from Senchura Secondary School, got an opportunity to attend our 2016 Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI) program. When they came back to school after their December holidays, they did two things: First, they approached the school about creating a Leadership Club and signed up to be the Co-President upon receiving approval. The second thing they did was rally their classmates about how they could help the community by starting with their current location as a ‘pay it forward’ project.  

In January’16, they started a small school vegetable garden alongside their school. Initially, the school leadership did not take the project very seriously. However, they did help provide seeds and water for the youth to kick start the project. As the vegetables began to grow on a larger scale, the school principal decided to speak to them and understand their ideas.

Felix and Esther

(Felix & Esther in the vegetable garden)

When he interviewed Felix and Esther, he asked them what inspired them to do this project. They confidently explained the concept of “Paying it Forward” and what they had learned at Asante Africa Foundation’s LEI program about youth enterprises and project planning. They explained that as a Leadership Club, they wanted to provide the students options in their food menu, without putting the extra cost burden on the school.  Also offsetting some of the costs, would allow the school to get slightly more expensive items like meat and rice included periodically into the menu. Their logic was that the garden would provide the vegetables that the school had to previously purchase in large quantities.

The school administration was so excited with the results over the first 3 months that in March the school purchased a greenhouse for the club, which would allow them to continue to expand the project.  Large scale gardening has now been initiated as of April 2016. This project is now managed by a larger group of 15 students who have now joined Felix and Esther.      

All of this was achieved because two young people had time to learn to be creative and were empowered to practice and enhance their skills, and enlist others in a vision they had developed together.


(Greenhouse for the school)

Believing in our vision to support many such youth, Social Capital Foundation decided to match the LEI donations 1:1, upto $20,000 till August’31’16. We still have to raise $3000 and have 6 days remaining. Your generosity can help us achieve our goals.


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World Humanitarian Day

“It is in your hands to create a better world for all who live in it” – Nelson Mandela

According to the UN, more than 130 million people are dependent upon humanitarian assistance.  That is about 40% of the population of the United States and more than the population of Kenya and Tanzania combined.  That so many are suffering so much is staggering.  For those of us who do not live that suffering every day, the World Humanitarian Day website has a quiz, that shows some of the choices those in torn and oppressed regions face on a daily basis.  

World Humanitarian Day is August 19.  The Day seeks to draw attention to humanitarian needs worldwide and the importance of international co-operation in meeting those needs.  The challenges this day sheds light on are such that the United Nations convened a global summit in May to generate commitments to reduce suffering from global leaders.  Leading up to the summit, the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, published his report for the World Humanitarian Summit.  The report outlined five core responsibilities necessary for delivering a better humanity.  The third core responsibility, “leave no one behind, really stood out to us as an organization because that is what Asante Africa Foundation is all about.  (You can access a copy of the report here)

Asante Africa seeks to transform the lives of youth and enable them to be agents of change in their communities, through education and life skills training.  Our focus is in the rural parts of East Africa, where education is a luxury and not a birthright and where young girls are at a disadvantage due to poverty and traditional cultural practices in these regions.  By building these young people up, giving the resources they need to succeed in the adult world, and challenging them to “pay it forward”, we are building a brighter future for Africa.

As you read further into the Secretary General’s discussion of the core responsibility “leave no one behind”, you will find some of the same themes our organization is fighting for. To “enable adolescents and young people to be agents of positive transformation,” is the core of Asante Africa’s mission statement and this is reflected in each of its programs    To “empower and protect women and girls” is something our Girls’ Advancement Program has accomplished for thousands of young girls.  To “eliminate gaps in education for children, adolescents and young people” is a focus of all our programs, but particularly our Accelerate Learning in the Classroom, which seeks to enable teachers across Kenya and Tanzania to elevate the quality of learning for their students.  The youth and communities we work with become agents of change and not just a statistic.  To further facilitate that, our Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator Program prepares students for the transition to the adult world and challenges them to use their growth to benefit their communities.  In fact, Social Capital Foundation has so much confidence in this program, it is matching donations, dollar for dollar, to the program through August 31! 

Not everyone can be on the front lines delivering aid to those in need. However, that does not mean you have to be in the sidelines. Find other ways to get involved, even if it is just supporting organizations like Asante Africa Foundation. Everyone can be a humanitarian. Martin Luther King Jr. rightly said ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is – What are you doing for others?’ We know we are doing our bit! 

Click here to know how you can get involved with Asante Africa Foundation. To get updates,subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter (@asanteafrica)/Facebook (Asante Africa Foundation)
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2016- Mid Year Highlights by Erna Grasz, CEO

We recently concluded our Global Strategy Meeting’2016 in Tanzania. The plans are assertive, the team is determined and the future very bright. Our CEO talks about the takeaways from the meeting.

“Having recently returned from several weeks in East Africa, there is much to acknowledge and recognize in support of the communities we serve. While there are always many stories from the field, I am sewing this post to communicate some of the organizational achievements and key areas of focus.

Key organization message

Sync between Maturity and Growth = Big Impact and Success.

The Best Yet – Annual Global Board Meeting

This year’s annual mission alignment and strategy meeting was hosted by the Tanzania team for staff and Boards from Kenya, Tanzania, and USA. It marked a definitive inflection point in the evolution of Asante Africa’s maturity and growth towards an East African centric organization.  What began with a collective discussion three years ago stimulated by the Price Waterhouse Cooper global governance and implementation plan, is now becoming a reality and is being embraced for what it means to be an East African centric organization. This is occurring at the staff level and at the Board of Directors level.  Everyone appreciates the challenge in front of us and all are committed to navigating the course.


An excited team after a successful meeting 

The 2020 Vision of One Million Lives Impacted – Assertive and Doable

The program staff, refined and presented the road maps for each program for the next four years. While our plans have always been forward looking and aggressive, all of us now believe  and collectively agree on the guide posts between today and the goal. All are energized and ready for the opportunity.

                                  Staff presenting focus areas and road maps

 Program Highlights and Achievements

  •  The theme is definitely data, data, data

  • We have received recognition by other ‘sister and funding’ organizations for our Sustainable model. We do not treat our youth as beneficiaries but as active participants in Future problem solving of their community needs and challenges. We encourage active knowledge application and transfer through ‘Paying It Forward.’

  • The Government Officials (MoEVT-TZ) and Corporate partners (P&G), recognize our model of TRULY engaging educational stakeholders and community members. This means that the parents’ voices are essential, the school principal’s voice is critical, and the community makes the decisions, while we at Asante Africa Foundation facilitate the process and create a transparent process for all.

  • Our East African Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator Program has a 5 year Impact Study, Qualitative and Quantitative, underway. The includes real time data collection in the field conducted by 20 of our staff and youth alumni and an orchestrated analysis effort in concert with Savannah State University and Statistics Without Borders team.

  • We have completed the final phases of the MasterCard Foundation funded program for Advancing the Learning in Rural Classrooms. This program has been underway for the last three years with exceptional findings and results. As you may remember, our collective team presented to a global community at the 2016 CIES conference in March. Now we are in the midst of a 3rd party evaluation.

  • We have completed Analysis for our Girls Advancement Program for 2015-2016 P&G program. We have over 6000 girls across Kenya and Tanzania who have vocally shared their newest learnings about bodies maturing, how their voices matter, and how to use their voices against abuse, rape, FGM, and getting their needs met. And the results are staggering. – 91% of the girls are staying in school. Young Girl pregnancies are down by 98% over prior year. Parents are actively engaging in tough conversations with their children about sex, and staying safe.

We have so many more stories to share with you. I do hope you will take a moment to read a few of the recent BLOG posts from our youth in the field and our staff.”

                                                                                                                                           – Erna Grasz

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When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade!

Shirley West, fondly known as ‘Mama Shirley’ by everyone at Asante Africa Foundation, has decided to move to Texas to be with her family. Over the years, she has become an indispensable part of the team, and we know that this farewell is definitely not a goodbye.  She sums up her journey in this post.

“Back in 2007 all was well in my life.  All 3 of my children were grown and doing well.  Then one Saturday night in late April, everything changed. We received the call that no parent ever wants to receive.  My beautiful 36 year old daughter was dead.  How can this be??  I had just talked to her on Thursday.  It must be a dream, a very bad dream!  Once the shock wore off, the reality sat in.  Along with that reality, I lost all my energy, passion for life and found myself suffering from mild depression.  My doctor recommended medication, counselling and support groups.  I told her I would think about it.  I went home and back to my main activities since my daughter’s death- thinking about life, watching re-runs and surfing the net.

While surfing the net, I came across a new nonprofit that fascinated me. It was called Asante Africa Foundation and was started by a woman who lived about 3 miles from me.  Something kept drawing me back to this website and finally one day, I decided maybe this is what I needed to do-volunteer with Asante Africa.  Something new to help occupy my mind! I filled out the volunteer application and before I knew it, I was having coffee with the founder, Erna Grasz. She said she had the perfect job for me –Volunteer Manager.  It required a lot of the skills I already had from my volunteer job at ASSE working with international exchange students and host families. I agreed to be the volunteer manager and before long, I also found myself getting involved with the program team. That is where my passion lays–Children and Education–Teaching and Mentoring.  (The healing was beginning).


Mama Shirley with Erna

Soon Erna asked me if I wanted to go to Africa.  Africa was the last place I had ever thought of going.  But I said yes.  Much to my surprise, I found myself intrigued with the children and people I met there.  Since I was now involved with the scholarship program, I found it therapeutic to meet many of our young students and learn the customs and ways of the African people and enjoy the sites of the beautiful animals and people that live there.  

My two favorite programs are our Girls’ Advancement and Leadership Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI).  Why?  Because they empower young people with knowledge and skills they need to be successful and take charge of their lives.  They learn to have a dream and how to work towards achieving that dream.  Girls learn how to take charge of their lives and bodies in a positive way. Both teach young people to “Pay it forward” by sharing the knowledge and skills that they have learned with other students and members of their communities. Every year, I try to attend LEI to foster and build relationships and form bounds to help mentor the students as they prepare for adulthood. It also helps me form bonds with our in-country teams.  Later this year, I plan to make my 6th trip to Africa for LEI.

Having been involved with all aspects of the organization as a volunteer and staff member, I can truly say, it is amazing that volunteers can accomplish so much!  I have learned so much about nonprofits and what it takes to run and make them successful. It is not an easy task.  I have also acquired many new skills and met many awesome people, both here and in Africa!   

With Asante Africa USA Team

As a donor, I have seen and continue to see how Asante Africa is educating children and transforming worlds, not just for our students, but also for their families and communities.  We are empowering the next generation of leaders and change agents.  I can see that my donations are being well spent and make a huge difference in young people’s lives. 

As a Board Advisor, my experience gives another view to our organization, here and in country.  I have seen the growth of Asante Africa Foundation from a mere concept to an organization that is making a difference and teaching young people skills and empowering them to initiate change in their world and beyond.

But most of all, I have learned that something good can come out of a tragedy.  So goes the saying, “When one door closes, another opens”.

As I leave the Bay area for Texas, my roles at Asante Africa will down-size, but I am not yet ready to completely leave behind the organization that helped me heal from the worst day of my life.”

Click here to support LEI match and help us reach our goal. All contributions till August 31’16 will be doubled by Social Capital Foundation.



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Our intern tells her story…

We always look forward to sharing our stories from the fields of Kenya and Tanzania. Our intern Christine Tran shares her account of why she decided to join Asante Africa Foundation and her experience during the Global Strategy Meeting’2016.

“With a solid four months between graduating from Stanford University and beginning my first full-time job as a Management Consultant in San Francisco, I knew I wanted to take advantage of my last true summer before entering the “real world.” Rather than heading to Europe or Asia for the typical post-college backpacking trip, I wanted to experience a different world and challenge myself outside of my comfort zone.


(Christine graduating from Stanford University)

After spending 16 years of my life in an ethnically diverse, affluent suburb in Texas, and then leaving home at 18 to attend one of the most prestigious universities in the United States, I knew there was something missing in my life. My parents’ story of realizing the quintessential American Dream has been a constant source of motivation for me to achieve my own personal and professional pursuits. 

Though I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a Minor in Modern Languages, I have spent nearly 5 years tutoring students part-time, from basic addition and subtraction up to Calculus. Mathematics has always been fun and comes naturally to me. However, I recognized this wasn’t the case for most people. During these 5 years of working with students, I realized why mathematics can be so challenging for many students. It was because they didn’t find it fun or engaging and could not see past the formulas or connect classroom lessons with real-world applications. And as our world becomes more advanced and technologically dependent, it is crucial that students develop a strong foundation in mathematics in order to obtain technical roles or to simply function in a capitalist society.

Upon graduation I wanted to leave my mark somewhere in the world and knew that it would begin with my passion for mathematics and educating youth. But how and where would I do this?

After researching a number of different education non-profits in Africa, I discovered Asante Africa Foundation and reached out to learn more. Just from the first few emails and phone calls, I was impressed with the level of leadership within the organization, how well-run it is, and its mission and vision. I knew if I joined Asante Africa Foundation, I would not only have the opportunity to give but also to learn and grow. Fortunately, I was granted the African Service Fellowship from Stanford University, which has supported me in partnering with Asante Africa Foundation to design and pilot a Participatory Math Pilot Program for rural, public schools in the Kilimanjaro region. Time and time again I have heard that “math is a national disease” in Tanzania. My mission is to plant seeds that can help towards curing this disease.

“Preliminary surveys for the Participatory Math Program reveal that students can also be teachers and teach. Students are encouraged to work in teams to discuss and solve challenging real-world math problems”

My first week in Tanzania was incredible. I arrived just a few days before the commencement of the Annual Global Strategy Meetings, with staff and board members from the United States, Kenya, and Tanzania. I am still amazed by how kind and welcoming everyone was and has been.

Though I had never worked with Asante Africa before coming to Tanzania, I truly felt like a part of this organization from the get-go. Every day I am inspired and empowered by the amount of commitment, passion, and leadership present in the office and in the field. After hearing beneficiaries recount their success stories, I know that the hard work that this organization does is truly changing lives and making a difference. And today, as a part of Asante Africa, I can confidently say that we are all driven to reach our 2020 vision of impacting 1 million lives.” 

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On July 18, 2016,  people will celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day.  On this day people are encouraged to spend at least 67 minutes doing something positive for their communities.  The 67 minutes is symbolic of the 67 years the late South African president Mandela spent fighting social injustice.  Nelson Mandela is probably most remembered for being the vanguard of the South African people’s fight for independence and racial equality. 

Prior to becoming the first black president in South Africa, Mandela served 27 years in prison as a result of his efforts in fighting the system of racial segregation imposed by the National Party, known as apartheid.  Though offered opportunities for conditional release, Mandela refused to deviate from his beliefs and his mission.  Ultimately, international pressure aided in bringing his incarceration to an end.  After his release, Mandela led negotiations to end apartheid, organize multiracial elections, and went on to become president. 

As much as Mandela is revered for his fight for racial equality, he fought equally hard to eradicate poverty in South Africa, reviving an economy which had been battered by apartheid sanctions.  Mandela did not slow down after stepping down as South Africa’s president.  He continued to lend his support to the fight against social injustice, poverty, and HIV/AIDS (Mandela’s son died from the disease) through organizations bearing his name, such as the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Children’s fund. 

Great =_NM


At Asante Africa, we have absorbed Mandela’s ideologies and fight for social justice into our work.  Mandela viewed education as “the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  This is at the heart of Asante Africa’s mission to educate and empower the next generation of change agents, whose dreams and actions transform the future for Africa and the world. Asante Africa recognizes the barriers to inclusion, particularly those facing young girls, and have developed special programs and methodologies to ensure that young girls have an equal opportunity to earn an education and change the world.

Nelson Mandela’s life is evidence of what one determined and relentless individual can accomplish.  We can all draw inspiration from his life and his words, “It always seems impossible until it is done”.  Anyone can be an agent of change and social justice is achievable.  “Do not look the other way; do not hesitate.  Recognize that the world is hungry for action, not words.  Act with courage and vision.”  Asante Africa celebrates the man by honoring his work and picking up where he left off. 

To get the latest news from Asante Africa Foundation: updates from the field, campaign actions, events, and more, subscribe to our newsletter at http://www.asanteafrica.org/subscribe


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An Artist’s Journey

While skills in the context of World Youth Skills Day usually refer to readying young adults for the workplace, which we are great believers of as evidenced by our LEI program, we can’t help but feel extra proud when we see other special capabilities our students are good at. Education and training will always be our main thrust, but we have to admit to having a soft spot for that famous saying: “there is no life without art.”

Meet Timothy, our young artist from Tanzania!

The 22-year old shares that he started dabbling with art when he was still in Primary School. Its potential for being a distraction from studying meant he wasn’t allowed to do it. So we feel extra blessed today at being given the gift of seeing his talent manifested.

“I stopped drawing in 2012, but then I met Mama Shirley of Asante Africa. She used to tell me ‘Timothy, don’t stop drawing.’ She’s the one who inspired me to keep going!”

Asking Shirley about her role in Timothy’s journey as an artist had her looking back at that final day of LEI in 2012 when she discovered a young man sitting at a desk, quietly sketching. “He explained that he had no formal training and only a regular pencil and paper to work with. Seeing his love for drawing and his potential, I decided to buy him some drawing pencils, art erasers, charcoal pens, pastels, drawing paper, and instruction books. Now he felt like a real artist! It has been exciting to see his progress, to see him develop his talent and to try new mediums.”

Today, Timothy is inspired by anything from books (he says they help to develop imagination), to natural landscapes, and talented artists. His biggest motivation for creating, though, is having an outlet that allows him to better cope with his environment. Like many of the other students, Timothy is a product of a broken home and is no stranger to dealing with family issues.

Training +  Talent

He acknowledges how being part of LEI encouraged him to pursue his art. “Learning about Entrepreneurship gave me confidence that I can use my talent as a source of income.”

When asked about his plans for the future, Timothy shares his hopes of getting a scholarship at the Art College so he can hone his skills. And like a true LEI graduate, he can’t wait for the opportunity to eventually pay it forward: “I would love to teach young artists so they can use those skills to improve their art, use it to create jobs as entrepreneurs so it reduces jobless youth, and to avoid young lives being spoiled from the use of drugs and alcohol.”

He shared some of his favorite artwork with us! You can view more on his Facebook page Timz Art!

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You too can be a part of our efforts & support programs that develop youth to confidently address life challenges. And what’s better, till August 31st every donation you make will be matched 1:1 by our partners Social Capital Foundation. donate


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