Mission, Vision and History

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Mission | VisionHistory | The Foundation | The University | Meaning of Ashesi 


The mission of Ashesi University College is to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others and the courage it will take to transform a continent.



Imagine if every Sub-Saharan African country had several small liberal-arts colleges, dedicated to nurturing critical thinking, effective communication skills, practical experience, and a true concern for society in their students. Such a development in Africa would make a tremendous positive impact on the continent. This is our vision: An African Renaissance driven by a new generation of ethical entrepreneurial leaders.



Ashesi was founded by Patrick Awuah, a Ghanaian who has spent over 15 years living and working in the United States. Awuah left Ghana in 1985 to attend Swarthmore College on a full scholarship, after which he worked for Microsoft Corporation as an engineer and a program manager for eight years. Experiencing firsthand the dramatic impact that education can have on one's life, Awuah embarked on a mission in 1997 to provide greater educational opportunities in Ghana. He enrolled in business school at the University of California at Berkeley's Haas School of Business, both to evaluate the feasibility of his goal and to gain a broader range of managerial skills with which to found and manage a university.

1997: Founder Patrick Awuah gives up his successful US software career to return to Africa. To help bring ethics, innovation and entrepreneurship to Africa, he decides to create a new kind of African university.

1998: Patrick Awuah and graduate students from UC Berkeley conduct a feasibility study for a new private university in Ghana.

1999: Ashesi University Foundation was founded and is spearheaded by a well-qualified Board of Trustees and management governance whose efforts are complemented by Advisory Boards located in the US and Ghana.

2002: Ashesi University opens its doors in a rented house converted to classrooms, with a pioneering class of 30 students.

2005: Pioneer class graduates. 100% quickly find quality placement; 95% chose to stay to Africa. Future classes maintain these records.

2006: Ashesi students elect first woman university student government president in Ghana’s history.

2007: A UC Berkeley study finds that local and multinational employers rate Ashesi and Ashesi Graduates #1 in Ghana in Quality of Curriculum, Career Preparation, Communication Skills, Maturity, Professional Skills, and Ethics.

2008: Students vote to adopt Examination Honour Code - Africa’s first |  Financial sustainability:  fees from students who can afford to pay cover annual operating expenses  |  Capital Campaign for new campus begins

2009: Construction starts for permanent campus in Berekuso.

2011: New campus completed—on schedule and on budget ($6.4M).  Enrollment tops 500 as Vice-President of Ghana inaugurates campus.

2012: The MasterCard Foundation partners to provide $13 million in Ashesi scholarships to students from 11 African countries.

2013:  Groundbreaking for construction to start on new engineering building where Ashesi will educate engineers who will design innovative infrastructure and products for Africa.


The Foundation

Ashesi University Foundation was founded in August 1999 and is spearheaded by a well-qualified Board of Trustees and management governance whose efforts are complemented by Advisory Boards located in the US and Ghana. The US Advisory Board is currently comprised of 25 academic advisors from some of the highest-ranking institutions in the United States: Swarthmore CollegeUC Berkeley and University of Washington. The Ghanaian Advisory Board comprises academics and business leaders in Ghana. Ashesi's Advisors have provided active input and guidance in our curriculum design process, and will continue to advise Ashesi on issues related to curriculum development, faculty and staff recruiting, exchange programs, and doing business in Ghana. To ensure that a rigorous academic standard is maintained, members of Ashesi's Business Advisory Councils at UC Berkeley, University of Washington and Swarthmore College have agreed to serve as external examiners.


The University

Ashesi was established as an independent, co-educational, public benefit education institution operating on a not-for-profit basis. It was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee on 24th October 2001 and has been operating as such since its inception. The University gained accreditation from the National Accreditation Board of Ghana in September 2001, and began instruction with 30 students on 4th March 2002. The University offers four-year bachelor degrees in Business Administration, Computer Science and Management Information Systems, based on a Liberal Arts core curriculum that nurture ethical thinking and fosters critical thinking by teaching students to explore the connections between fields of knowledge, to separate relevant information from the irrelevant, to question assumptions, to reflect on the views of others. The Ashesi education teaches students to be problem solvers.

As a company limited by guarantee, the Companies Act, 1963 (Act 179) and the University’s regulations require that all of Ashesi’s property and income are applied solely towards Ashesi’s educational mission. Ashesi is operated as a not-for-profit oriented entity, with one member; Ashesi University Foundation.

Ashesi admits students of all races colour, nationality, and ethnic origin to all its programs and makes available to these students all the rights and privileges; and the benefit of all programs and activities run by the university. The University does not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin in its admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs and in all other spheres of its operation.

The University has quickly gained a reputation for excellence in Ghanaian higher education. Over 95% of Ashesi’s graduates stay in Africa, working for efficiency, transparency and innovation in microfinance, technology, banking, NGOs and other areas. They improve the lives of fellow citizens and help grow Africa’s economy. Every Ashesi graduate, from our first class of ‘05, has found quality placement within months. African businesses and NGOs value their strong problem solving skills, pro-active approach, and ethical integrity.


Meaning of Ashesi

If there is anything you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.

These words by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe are the inspiration behind the university's name, Ashesi, which means "beginning" in Akan, a native Ghanaian language. Ashesi's founder, Patrick Awuah, first read Goethe's words at a time when he was still questioning the wisdom of undertaking such an ambitious project. Encouraged by Goethe's words, he began by undertaking a feasibility study of his idea. Clarifying the risks and issues at hand helped Awuah shed his reservations until one day he realized that he had lost his hesitation and had become very committed to this project. He then realized, "This really is the beginning!" But the name Ashesi is not only about its founder's inspiration. It is also about providing a new beginning for every student who comes to Ashesi. And about building an institution that reinvents itself to fit the changing needs of society, one that grows by replicating itself throughout Ghana and Africa.