After working at Microsoft for almost a decade, Patrick Awuah returned home to Ghana and cofounded Ashesi University, a small liberal arts college that aims to educate Africa's next generation of leaders. Its first class of students graduated in 2006.

Why you should listen

Patrick Awuah left Ghana as a teenager to attend Swarthmore College in the United States, then stayed on to build a career at Microsoft in Seattle. In returning to his home country, he has made a commitment to educating young people in critical thinking and ethical service, values he believes are crucial for the nation-building that lies ahead.

Founded in 2002, his Ashesi University is already charting a new course in African education, with its high-tech facilities, innovative academic program and emphasis on leadership. It seems more than fitting that ashesi means "beginning" in Akan, one of Ghana's native languages.

Patrikc Awuah is an alumnus of the TED Fellows program, having attended TEDGlobal 2007 in Arusha, Tanzania, and TED2009 in Long Beach, California. Find out more about the TED Fellows program. He is also a 2015 MacArthur Fellow.

Patrick Awuah’s TED talk

Patrick Awuah on the TED Blog


2015 MacArthur ‘genius grant’ winners include two TED Fellows: Patrick Awuah and LaToya Ruby Frazier

September 29, 2015

The MacArthur Foundation revealed its list of 2015 Fellows this morning. Twenty-four people received the “genius grant,” a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend — and two of them are TED Fellows: Patrick Awuah and LaToya Ruby Frazier. Patrick Awuah founded Ashesi University, a college in his home country of Ghana dedicated to educating Africa’s next generation of leaders by […]

Continue reading

Africa's brain drain may have hidden benefits

August 21, 2008

Each year, untold numbers of bright young Africans — doctors and nurses, scientists and programmers — leave their home countries to live and work abroad. This continental “brain drain” has the predictable effect: Many experts believe the flight of health workers, scientists, and teachers hinder the continent’s development. “It will be impossible to achieve an […]

Continue reading

Training our next leaders: Patrick Awuah on

August 6, 2007

Patrick Awuah left a comfortable life in Seattle to return to Ghana and co-found a liberal arts college. Why? Because he believes that Ghana’s failures in leadership — and he gives several mind-boggling examples — stem from a university system that fails to train real leaders. In a talk that brought the TEDGlobal audience enthusiastically […]

Continue reading