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Exciting News! We at Jolkona are happy to announce two new partner projects in Ghana! Lumana is an organization providing microfinance programs in rural areas, as well as connecting young entrepreneurs with great opportunities. Empower Playgrounds Inc. (EPI) builds electricity-generating playground equipment, which can light up entire communities, as well as lamps and science kits for schools.

Why Ghana?

In 1957, when Ghana gained its independence, its potential was roughly equivalent to that of South Korea. However, South Korea today is much further ahead than Ghana by any growth metrics. This is because Ghana saw a series of debilitating military coups between 1966-1979, each one devastating for Ghana’s development, leading to a steep decline in GDP and standard of living. In 1981, flight lieutenant Jerry Rawlings had wrested control a second time, and began a decade long struggle to reform Ghana’s economy. In 1992, Ghana held free elections and set up a constitution. While now seen as an example of political reform and economic recovery, Ghana’s development was stunted by its turbulent history.

Ghana also has a large wealth gap, inflating its statistics without addressing the problem. While Ghana is an ambitious nation with a space program, and seemingly with money to spare as it spent $20 million on a lavish 50th anniversary celebration in 2007, there are stark problems that Ghana is not focusing on. Fully one half of Ghanaians do not have access to electricity, and many also have no running water, especially in rural areas. Ghana is also ranked 69th in the Corruption Perception Index, meaning that a fair amount of foreign aid doesn’t reach the people its meant to serve.

How can we fix this?

  • The aim of Empower Playgrounds Inc (EPI) is to provide opportunities for bright children in dark situations to succeed and break through the poverty cycle. Executive Director Chris Owen told me. Our new project with them allows you to donate $50 to provide a child with an electric lantern, which can be charged during the day and used to do homework at night. Children are often expected to help out with chores or on family farms after school, and can’t do their homework in the dark. Many families resort to using gas lamps, which are detrimental to health when burned in-doors. This project addresses these basic needs of rural Ghaneans, and can decrease the wealth gap by providing an equal chance at education.
  • Lumana found that 80% of microfinance programs in Ghana are in urban centers, and the vast majority of Ghana’s poor have no access to them. Our new project with them means that your gift of $50 will fund a 3-day training session for 1st time borrowers, people who will then have the skills to set up their own business. This project further reduces the wealth gap by providing small-business owners the skills they need to expand and thrive.

And our new partners are just as excited about us as we are about them! “After meeting with Jolkona staff and hearing about the innovative force it is in the non-profit world we knew we had to get involved” says Mr. Owen.

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