In life there are two kinds of people; those who complain and watch things happen, and those who jump in and make good things happen. In this blog I'll share with you the stories of people in and from Ghana who are changemakers and I hope to inspire you to leave the complainers on the sidelines who cannot see any good thing in Ghana and jump right into the fun and action!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ghanaian Student Develops Technology That Could Save Your Life

The Problem
Have you ever had malaria or another disease and taken a full course of medicine but still remained sick? The problem of counterfeit drugs in developing countries like Ghana is one that could kill you. The WHO estimates that up to 30% of drugs in developing countries are counterfeit and a recent study by the International Policy Network estimated that over 700,000 deaths from malaria and tuberculosis are attributable to fake drugs. In a place like Ghana where many families have to sacrifice other needs to purchase medicine, counterfeit drugs reduce the confidence that ordinary people have in the health care system and make them more vulnerable to fake spiritualists and healers.

The Solution
One person who is not simply complaining about this problem but has created a breakthrough solution is Ashifi Gogo, a Ghanaian Ph.D. Innovation Program candidate at Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth. His company Sproxil provides technology which allows any consumer to confirm a drug's authenticity with a simple text message. To check if a drug is counterfeit, a consumer simply scratches-off a code on the medication, sends a text message and obtains an instant response which says "Ok genuine medicine" or "No fake". The benefits to pharmaceutical companies for using this technology according to Sproxil, include reclaiming market share lost to counterfeiters, sending real-time offers at the point of purchase through text messaging to customers and locking down their supply chain to prevent product diversion. Sproxil provides a win-win for everyone, consumers as well as pharmaceutical companies.

The company which recently changed its name from mPedigree Logistics to Sproxil has won various awards including first place in the Nokia Innovators Competition, second place in the 2009 Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC), and a World Summit award for e-health and environment technology solution

Ashifi also co-founded nonprofit mPedigree based in Ghana whose mission is to protect patients and consumers in the developing world from fake medicines through advocacy, public education, research, and support for innovative technologies. mPedigree and its partners have developed an advocacy video "if symptoms persist. Below is a short trailer for the "if symptoms persist video and a video on the Nokia award.

What Do You Think of This Story
Have you had an experience with drugs that did not work? Do you have any other ideas that could deal with the problem of counterfeit drugs or have you been inspired by this story? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Young Ghanaian wins third place at the World Bank 2009 International Essay Competition

Young people from Ghana continue to impact our world with award winning ideas. Kwasi Gyeabour won third place at the World Bank 2009 International Essay Competition for his essay "Greening the Ghanaian Youth". The competition was held as part of the ABCDE Conference in Seoul, Korea on June 22-24, 2009. The ABCDE Conference is one of the world's best known series of conferences on development for many of the world's development thinkers to present their ideas.

In his essay Kwasi proposes many brilliant solutions to dealing with environmental problems in Ghana including igniting a citizen-led Green Revolution with a Green Scout Movement, a Community Recycling Initiative and Online Green Social Networking as some of the drivers of this revolution. Other private sector led initiatives he proposes include the setting up a Green Mutual Sector Fund and The Climatic Change and Relief Center (CSRC). Other ideas he shares include an Inter-School Climate Change Solutions Fair and programs to be implemented by the Government of Ghana and by International Organizations. Change always begins with great ideas and I am confident that Kwasi and others who will be inspired by his ideas will . To read his essay visit

Jefferson Agbai also from Ghana came second in 2006 with topic Empowering the Ghanaian Youth Towards Financial Independence.

About the Competition
The 2009 Essay Competition attracted 2,469 submissions from over 150 countries with 56 submissions coming from Ghana. Essay contestants were asked to answer two questions: 1) How does climate change affect you? And 2) How can you tackle climate change through youth-led solutions?

Share Your Thoughts on Kwasi's Ideas
I would love to hear what you think about Kwasi's ideas? Do you know other Ghanaians who are working hard on environmental issues? What are your thoughts on "Greening Ghana"? Click on comments below to join the discussion.