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In 2012, Ousman Umar and his brother founded Nasco Feeding Minds (Nasco ICT), an NGO dedicated to creating computer rooms at schools in rural Ghana so that children can gain access to information using digital tools. Ousman earned an undergraduate degree in public relations and marketing at Formatic Barcelona before enrolling in Management in Non-Governmental Organisations, a course taught by ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation in collaboration with “La Caixa”.
But Ousman’s life has not been easy. At age 9, he left his native village in Ghana for the large town of Techiman, where he became an apprentice in his uncle’s repair shop. “That’s where I started to hear stories about Europe,” Ousman explains. “I was convinced it was a paradise.”
His restlessness and courage motivated him to realise his dream of reaching Europe. But the journey was difficult: Ousman crossed the desert with a human-trafficking mafia to reach Libya. Of the 46 people who began the journey, only 6 reached their final destination. In Libya, Ousman worked for five years to save enough money to continue onward. In total, it took him ten years, travelling by lorry, jeep and bus, on foot and by raft, crossing seven countries, the Sahara Desert and ocean that separates Mauritania from the Canary Islands.
Finally, on 24th February 2005 – nearly 13 years ago – he reached Barcelona. There, he was lucky enough to have a foster family that helped him gain legal access to a work permit and education.
Nasco ICT: opportunities for all
Of the hundreds of people who begin journeys like his every day, Ousman knows that he is the exception. He therefore feels moved to give something back. “In order to stop the tragic flows of immigration across the Mediterranean Sea, we must solve the problem at its origin,” he explains. “The only way to do this is to give children the information they need to decide their future. Education is the key to improving society.”
From this idea, Nasco Feeding Minds (Nasco ICT) was born. This NGO works to create a network of computer rooms in rural schools in Ghana, with the aim of familiarising children with digital tools and facilitating access to information. “In the West, computers are over-abundant,” Ousman explains. “Some devices that are discarded in the West could still be useful in other countries.”Nasco ICT has been recognised by the United Nations for teaching 6,000 children and young people in the Ghanaian towns of Sawla, St. Augustine and Tuna.
Tools to see the world differently
“After finishing university, I realised that I still lacked knowledge in the social sector,” explains Ousman. He decided to enrol in Management in Non-Governmental Organisations, a course taught by ESADE’s Institute for Social Innovation and “la Caixa”. “ESADE has given me the opportunity and the necessary professionalism to be able to see the world in a different way,” adds Ousman.
The ESADE programme has allowed Ousman to develop the management skills he needs to undertake managerial responsibilities in an NGO. Participants acquire tools that help them organise their management work in various areas of activity, including human resources, volunteering, communication, fundraising, new technologies, etc.
The programme is 100% focused on experiences: analysing specific realities, diagnosing problems, comparing and discussing points of view with participants from other non-profits. Participants thus acquire an in-depth understanding of each case and the capacity to identify mechanisms they can use to have an impact on society.
Carlo Gallucci, ESADE professor and vice-rector of URL, awarded honorary doctorate by the Catholic University of Cordoba (Argentina)More info