The African Business Centre for Developing Education (ABCDE) was founded in 25th July 2012 by H.E.Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, former Minister Education and current Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Ghana. ABCDE is a Not-for-Profit organization dedicated to developing the skills, knowledge and core competencies of students needed for their personal and professional growth.
After several years of experimenting with various mentoring models, Ekwow through his own private initiative began the process of connecting current and retired industrial leaders, entrepreneurs, company directors, chief executive officers and other professionals back to second cycle and tertiary institutions for brief but significant interactions with students in order to contribute to developing their employability skills for the competitive job-market.
Through the ABCDE’s model, industrial leaders, entrepreneurs, company directors, chief executive officers and other professionals from various industries, firms, the field of commerce and the service sector serve as Mentors and works directly with students to introduce them to a broad range of work-readiness skills, e.g. negotiating skills, personal development skills, ICT skills, time management skills, decision-making skills, numeracy and literary skills, positive work ethics, confidence, leadership interpersonal skills and teamwork etc.
Today, the ABCDE is a thriving Pan-African body whose focus is to operate initially in four countries in Africa namely: Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania and Nigeria. By 2020, the organization hopes to have sent more than 100,000 well qualified professionals back to at least 10,000 schools in countries where it operates to help impact the minds and lives of at least 1million students both in high schools and tertiary institutions.
Furthermore, ABCDE plans to identify and support some 5,000 ICT (Information and Communication Technology) centres in schools in Africa. It is estimated that the impact of ABCDE’s interventions on the African continent and on eventual corporate productivity, public sector efficiency, the academic performance of students, corporate image visibility and rapid modernization of Africa, may be inestimable.
Businesses seek employees who not only add value but have the required skills (soft skills or non-academic skills) to help transform their operations in the face of continued and rapid economic and technological change. Such industries do not want to engage their time on providing new employees with soft skills training that they should have obtained in schools, but expect their newly-recruited employees to be business-ready.
According Ekwow, “Investment in education can yield strong results-oriented outcomes, narrow the global talent gap, boost consumers’ disposable income, enhance the health and well-being of employees and their families, facilitate the ease of doing business in developing countries and improve government and community relations.’’ However, the current model adopted towards corporate social investments in education will not realize this vision. Since the early 2000s, major efforts to bring collective corporate resources to support Education for All (EFA) have demonstrated few results and little impact.
In contrast to global health, this has been a lost decade of private sector engagement in global education. Research shows that the aggregate corporate resources to support education in Africa are deployed in an ineffective and inefficient manner. These efforts yield limited results as they tend to be short-term and disconnected from larger efforts – they often fail to address systemic challenges and the needs of the most marginalized and disadvantaged.
ABCDE aims to usher in a new way of tackling the challenges of the lack of employability skills within the job-market. The organization has thus positioned itself as a pioneering Pan-African organization in providing the necessary inputs through mentorship and coaching, across schools in Africa to meet the skill demands made by modern day industries in today’s world of work.