02 Mar Canadian HerStart Fellows Support Women’s Entrepreneurship in Ghana

Written by Shelly Steffler, HerStart Communications Fellow in Ghana 


It’s 10:00 AM and women are trickling in. They look nervous; some have travelled for hours to be here and many have babies tied to their back or carry toddlers in their arms. 

Meghan Hutton, a HerStart Programs and Partnerships Fellow with Youth Challenge International, welcomes them with a smile and a warm greeting. 

“Dasiba. You are welcome,” she says, perfectly reproducing the local greeting. “What is your name?” she asks, enunciating slowly and clearly. 

25 women were invited to attend the Seed Your Social Venture entrepreneurship training session hosted by YCI’s HerStart program, but thanks to word of mouth, closer to 40 women show up.  

Ukasha, the CEO at NiV, one of YCI’s local HerStart partners in Ghana, is very happy with the collaboration. “Our partnership with YCI and the HerStart program is unique in nature. We have been working with many donors and partners, but in this one, we’re co-designing and co-implementing the project. This helps us shape the project to become the desired intervention for the people that we serve, which are the vulnerable people in society. The fellowship part of the program is very important because we get a chance to learn from our colleagues from abroad,” shares Ukasha. 

The NiV staff, Salim, Harriet, and Talata, also enjoy the partnership. “The HerStart Fellows connect more individually with the program participants. The fellows often help with the funding applications and provide ideas to help the women shape their businesses,” says Harriet.  

Meghan’s time as a fellow will soon be up, but she knows this experience will serve her as she launches her career in development. 

“I’ve learned so much not just from my role with YCI and Norsaac, but from our participants as well. I’m bringing home new perspectives and understanding of cross-cultural programming, especially the importance of local knowledge and staff in development work.” 

As the day continues, Meghan takes notes to review with the team, assists with training, surveys participants, and even comforts a baby or two as they move in and out of the daycare support provided to help make the training accessible for young mothers. She sees rapt women, hanging on every word of the trainers. Connections formed. Even a few tears shed.  

And she knows that after this experience, she and the women participating will never quite be the same.

Learn more about YCI’s HerStart Fellowships for Canadians of all ages to contribute their skills and gain international volunteer experience while collaborating with women and global partners to drive social entrepreneurship and gender equality.