Sarah Boateng is a winning social entrepreneur and quality education advocate named as a 30 under 30 change-maker in 2020. Through her experience working at the United Nations and other international development organizations, she created IGEA Enterprise which has a mission to support girls in rural communities in Africa achieve their educational potential.
Thank you for making out time to chat with us — in your own words — who is Sarah Boateng?
I would say Sarah is a determined and passionate person who cares about girls having an equal chance to live to their full potential.
Amazing! Tell us more about the work you do at Investing in Girls Education in Africa (IGEA).
IGEA is on a mission to support girls in rural communities in Africa to have equal access to quality education. We look at the pressing issues which are barriers for girls to have a quality education, which we found is period poverty. That’s why we launched our first project Menstruate and Educate, aiming to support girls who have the freedom to attend school whilst on their period.
Well done on all the amazing work so far; What’s your motivation?
Thank you! I think it’s the fact that the girls we work with remind me of my mother and grandmother, as they experienced period poverty and could not finish their education and became local traders at the age of 12. When I lived in a rural community in Northern Ghana in 2016, I saw the same thing my mother went through, happening in rural contexts and I knew that I wanted to do something that can allow girls to finish their education.
You have contributed towards eliminating all barriers blocking girls in Africa from accessing quality education; how has that journey been?
It has been an interesting journey that I am on, still learning every single day! I think that it is hard, as it is a big mission I am on being a small organisation, but I would not change it and could not imagine spending my life doing anything else.
How much impact has IGEA made; and would you say that it has made a noticeable difference in the lives of girls?
We did our pilot with 100 girls at the end of 2019. We found that girls monthly attendance was increasing and they reported a higher level of confidence in the classrooms. With our community workshops, there was also a notice of the better reception of the topic of menstruation in communities and parents aware of the importance of their daughter’s attendance at school during their periods.
Tell us about your ongoing projects.
We are expanding our Menstruate and Educate project to 5 new communities in Northern Ghana, reaching at least 500 girls in 2021. It is something we did not expect to be able to do being around for a little over a year, but we are ready to take on the challenge.
We imagine that there’ve been highs and lows. What are the significant milestones and challenges you have encountered in your social impact journey?
I think the milestones have to be taking the step to start! That is usually the hardest part and something I tried to talk myself out of a few times especially with receiving so many no’s by organisations I was reaching out to at the beginning, but always glad I pushed through to take the step.
Tell us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
It would have to be “ Delay is not denial”. I have realised that even though something does not happen when you want it to happen does not mean it will not happen. It usually does in a better way than you expected, just keep trusting the process and most importantly yourself!
Now for some more personal stuff — what books are you reading now, and what music do you have on your playlist?
Ohh…. the book that I am reading at the moment is “7 Women”. It’s an inspiring story of some women that were mainstream and some that were not and what they were able to achieve in their lives. The music on my playlist has to be “Anything by Nao” on repeat.
If you had an all-expense-paid trip to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
It would have to be to the Maldives, it has been somewhere I have always dreamed of travelling to and looks like a very picturesque place to relax.
The LLA Grassroot Series is a monthly interview series that highlights the achievements and journey of an African female who has demonstrated exemplary initiative at the grassroots level.
The vision is to showcase the Leading Ladies who are transforming Africa and the African narrative through impact at the community level.
It is an offshoot of Leading Ladies Africa, a non-profit that promotes leadership, inclusion and diversity for women of African descent.
If you know any kick-ass women of African Descent doing phenomenal things at the grassroots level, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and she could possibly be featured.