Emmanuel Acquah CMgr MCMI
How did you become a classical liberal?
The journey began with the books I read from childhood. I grew up with less of what a child could play with but I did have books. Most of these books were about leadership, history, religion, and civil liberty.
If I grew stronger and tougher after a family breakdown, these books played a role. What I did not know was how it was tied to my destiny. The programs my Dad and Mum allowed me to watch even after they went their separate ways were mostly dominated by education and politics.
I remember I used to question authority and oppression during my childhood. Most often, this landed me in trouble. Those in authority would say, traditionally, it is not right for a child to be the victor in a debate with an adult.
There were costs but I knew the way to win over oppression was not to be silent about freedom. Not that I am without blemish but I question why a mortal should exercise control over another mortal.
As the years passed, my path became narrower. Everything I am becoming; I have fought for. In 2014, I had to drop out of the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ) because I had no money to pay for my fees.
It was a difficult moment for me.
That difficulty has proven to be one of my greatest blessings. I went to people for support but there was none. Those who were willing to help did not have the means.
Before I left GIJ, I remember a course on entrepreneurship. That was the first but last time I saw the entrepreneurship lecturer. He looked at me from afar and while the class waited patiently for him to speak, he said “You are going to be a wealthy person.”
Deep inside, I felt this man did not mean it but he kept saying it louder for about three times. So, I said to myself, “if I would not be a part of the class next time, I have to put my destiny in my hands.”
There was a second lecturer called Mrs. Belinda Glover. Almost every time I met her, she reminded me that I never belonged to GIJ. She would say, “Emma, you have a greater task. I like GIJ but GIJ is not your home.”
Soon my colleagues learned that Mrs. Glover did not lecture in my absence. That was the extent she cared about my intellectual development.
The day I arrived home, I remember my friend-Baba Jnr Awuni-Salifu whom I had known as a brother said to me: Why are you worried? You already have a Ph.D. in life.
Here I had to make meaning out of life. I set a 5-year goal. I challenged myself to be an improved version of myself before the time my colleagues’ graduated. I set as a target and read 1000 books.
During this time Felix Dade felt I was too intelligent to be home so he shared with me opportunities that came his way. One was the Students and Young Professionals Africa Liberty Academy (SYPALA 2016) by IMANI Centre for Policy and Education now known as IMANI Africa.
I learned a lot. The first presentation I attended was on “The Evolution of SYPALA, the need for economic freedom, and the proven principles of sound public policy” delivered by Franklin Cudjoe, CEO of IMANI.
This presentation got me thinking. I delved deeper from there by reading, watching videos, and listening to podcasts. Another opportunity came knocking through Felix, yet again, this time, the opportunity landed the then 21-year-old Emmanuel on an ambitious consultancy project with International Service.
In a team of 10 with two leaders, we worked with 1500 women who were into Shea butter production and processing. I felt I was poor but when I discovered people were poorer in the Northern Region of Ghana while a few of the political class and cronies lived lavishly, I grew more stubborn in the cause. I knew it was purposeful.
Later, I applied and joined Challenges Worldwide as a Business Support Associate. From there I moved on to other institutions all in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. I must admit and be thankful to all the people and institutions that came my way.
I saw and understood the problems hindering prosperity better than before. I felt the best way to solve this was through a political position, but Atlas gave me a reason why this is false.
David Shellenberger, a professional coach shared with me a useful nugget one night which has impacted me. Everything that has happened to me made me understand and appreciate the value of classical liberalism.
Having worked with 2824 entrepreneurs through state and private vehicles has given me insights into how some governments especially here in Africa create a vicious cycle of poverty through their actions and inaction’s.
This is what birthed Africa Centre for Entrepreneurship and Youth Empowerment (ACEYE) with my co-founder who has the other side of his story to share someday.
My experience with pain and poverty is what drives me. My passion to see others prosperous and at liberty is what gets me out of bed.
What is your vision for “Africa Centre for Entrepreneurship & Youth Empowerment (ACEYE)”?
My vision is for ACEYE to become the leading think tank of in entrepreneurial policy analysis, training, education, policy advocacy.
Effectively utilizing Africa’s youthful population to engender sustainably effective and efficient entrepreneurial growth within the context of free markets and libertarian values.
What is your plan to attain that vision?
I am working with the team to promote entrepreneurship and free markets by influencing policies on the back of research, professional analysis, nurturing, tutoring, advocacy, and advisory services.
This year and next year, for example, our activities will focus on influencing and initiating major polices to increase the ease of doing business in Africa (beginning with Ghana), tackling graduate unemployment, providing investment opportunities for investors, and shaping national, regional, and global conversation on the best way to advance society through the free market.
This is achievable with a seed fund of $10000, a motivated staff, resources, strong online presence, effective cooperation, and an efficient monitoring and evaluation mechanism.
What challenges do you face?
Funds to execute ACEYE’s activities is a major challenge. As an institution, we have maximized impact with few funds. May I use this opportunity to also thank everyone who has supported this journey.
I am confident in our ability to achieve the most with more funding.
Our doors are open to 3 years or more of institutional funding.
How can we help?
We are looking for individuals and institutions who share our vision to partner with us. Through your outfit, I hope Self Determination Advocates could help us (ACEYE) raise this amount. I hope you can help promote our work to attract other partners including media, investors, etc.