Ghana & Burkina Faso
Ghana & Burkina Faso
The mission of the Maxim Nyansa Foundation is to create career opportunities for young people in Africa through information technology. The name Maxim Nyansa means “maximum wisdom” in Ghana, where our organisation was founded in 2016. It is now flourishing under local management and has expanded its activities to five other West African countries.
In West Africa, more than half of the 200 million young people are unemployed. Education is far too theoretical and many young people lack soft skills. This means that they are not well prepared for the labour market. It is Maxim Nyansa’s aim to bridge this gap, focusing on a target group of young people aged 12 to 28. Maxim Nyansa has won several international awards for the outstanding results of its integrated approach. Because the education system in West Africa has been harmonised and the problems of young people in the region are very similar, the same approach and programs can be applied in neighbouring countries.
The foundation is headquartered in Ghana and staffed by a local team of 10 people led by Stanley Kwakye Dankyira (co-founder and CEO). A parallel ANBI foundation in the Netherlands provides support, fundraising and PR, with Diana van der Stelt (co-founder) as the driving force. Ghana is a relatively stable and democratic country with English as its official language. New teaching programs are developed and tested in Ghana. The curriculum of ‘blended learning’ is based on best practices of the IT world and is scientifically supported by an evaluation method developed in collaboration with the University of Utrecht. IT experts from West Africa and Europe are also actively involved in the curriculum. A lot of effort is contributed by the 50 Dutch volunteers who are keen to share their IT knowledge in Africa.
Maxim Nyansa has its own training centre with a capacity for 15-20 trainees in Accra, the capital of Ghana. Young people are hosted at the facility during an intensive 4 month ‘boot camp’ training. The program prepares them for the labour market or for starting up their own IT company. In addition to a balanced IT curriculum, the program applies a holistic approach aimed at uplifting the whole person. The training is provided by IT professionals who volunteer for one or two weeks in support of Maxim Nyansa’s beautiful mission. For example, one of the modules in the curriculum aims at developing project management skills according to the well-known SCRUM method. As a result, the trainees even receive an international SCRUM certificate! After completing the boot camp, they will also have access to three years of career coaching, to ensure that they really ’reach their destination’. Such a boot camp for 15 to 20 trainees costs around € 30,000 or € 2,500 per person! (a very good investment in terms of price/quality when compared to cost of ICT programs in Europe which can amount to € 15,000 for a single trainee!)
My upbringing made me very shy and insecure, but at Maxim Nyansa’s boot camp I not only gained confidence but also a lot of technical knowledge. I now work as a front-end developer at a software company in Kumasi and work on projects commissioned by clients in the Netherlands! – Michael Glover, former trainee.
Project-2 Apprenticeship companies in Ghana and Burkina Faso
To maximise and multiply our impact and reach a different demographic group – namely unemployed high school graduates – we need a sustainable business model that allows new branches to be set up and become financially independent as soon as possible. This can be achieved by the means of apprenticeship companies. These companies specialise in the repair of small electronics, especially smartphones, and the profits are reinvested in the business. This model combines training with actual business operations and the companies are managed by experienced members from our network. Apprentices are hired and given the opportunity to gain ‘on-the-job’ knowledge while also taking courses in entrepreneurship so that they are equipped to start their own small business within one year.
In 2024 and 2025 Maxim Nyansa wishes to establish such companies in both an English and a French-speaking country in West Africa – Ghana and Burkina Faso. It is relatively easy to achieve this in Ghana, because our head office is located there and we are an established participant in various networks. Ghana is also politically and economically stable.
The situation is quite different in French-speaking Burkina Faso. In addition to the youth unemployment issues common to West African countries, Burkina Faso has been dealing since 2019 with Muslim radicalisation and the emergence of jihadist groups based in Mali. These lawless groups cross the northern and eastern borders to murder and plunder. Two million out of the 22 million inhabitants are on the run and live in refugee camps. Nathanael Kopia and Rachid Dera founded the local Maxim Nyansa Burkina Faso branch in 2021 in the capital, Ouagadougou. Nathanael and Rachid have a strong desire to make a difference in the dangerous northern region of Burkina, near the city of Kaya. 400,000 Burkinabe live there in refugee camps. Without intervention, these people are easy prey for terrorists who promise them everything – we want to offer at least some prospects for work and a better future!
Maxim Nyansa is setting up apprenticeship companies in these countries with the aim of becoming self-sufficient after one year, because the companies provide electronics repair services and people depend on their smartphones which that they cannot afford to replace if they malfunction or get damaged. In Burkina Faso, the program runs in French, and young people from other neighbouring French-speaking countries such as Mali can be invited as apprentices, after which they return home and set up their own apprenticeship companies. The apprenticeship company will also train refugees in the northern part of Burkina Faso.
It is expected that trainees who have followed the ‘apprenticeship company’ route will be able to start their own business of repairing electronics, especially smartphones, after a year. The one-off (!) cost of starting a learning-working company is €30,000 (materials, workshop, trainers, small sales shop, small transport vehicle, etc.). Each company will need time to build a customer base. The start-up amount helps to gradually become self-sufficient for the first three years.
As an IT manager in the government, I really needed to do something completely different and also transfer my knowledge to the younger generation. For two years I have volunteered as trainer at a Maxim Nyansa IT boot camp, leading the project management training. Now I coordinate the intake of other volunteers in the Netherlands: all of them IT specialists who wish to travel to Africa to give back and share their knowledge. – Bart Den Hengst, volunteer trainer, Head of Information at DUS-I (Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport).
These projects are not primarily about large numbers. The focus is on the tremendous possibilities that open up to young people who can build a good future for themselves and their families. In addition, most trainees will start up their own small business and in turn provide work for 1-2 other people.
In the apprenticeship company in Ouagadougou ( Burkina Faso) we want to train 20 people, including 6 new trainers who will then go back to Togo, Ivory Coast and Mali to set up similar companies there. For them, the program is a ‘train the trainer ’ concept. This smart approach offers Maxim Nyansa the opportunity to grow organically and to realize impact in several countries.
With the training companies in Burkina Faso, we also think we can make an important contribution to refugee aid. In the more northerly Kaya, where 400,000 refugees live in camps, we want to start a training program for 100 participants, mainly young people and young mothers. This program is shorter and focuses solely on repairing smartphones and TVs.
Also important is the impact that Maxim Nyansa can have on the economy of countries where it operates. It is extremely important for the larger companies in West Africa to have access to qualified IT professionals. A lack of thereof is often an obstacle to growth ambitions. Maxim Nyansa, with its thorough training program, makes an important contribution to a better IT infrastructure in West Africa!
The Maxim Nyansa Foundation delivers fantastic results. MissionInvest is very enthusiastic about the practical approach, in which many Ghanaian developers are already working on behalf of Dutch and European companies! That says something about the quality. We believe that this is quite unique! This is why Maxim Nyansa deserves to be supported in its mission. They do not yet have any large donors, which is why MissionInvest can be of great service to them with its network. You can choose from the following options, whereby all options are eligible for partial financing starting at € 5,000:
Are you looking for a project with personal involvement and participation? Then this is an excellent project for you. If you are an IT professional, you may be able to provide training yourself! An on-site project visit is certainly worthwhile!