During the academic year 2014-2015, I received a grant from the Grain de Sel Togo, Inc. organization (GDS Togo, Inc.).
This scholarship gave me not only monthly financial support but also moral, technical and professional support. Indeed, through the Free University of GDS, I was receiving online courses that covered different modules. I learned how to avoid procrastination, how to develop success plans, how to create a website, the qualities of a proficient leader, how to develop a social project, how to promote it, etc. In addition, these courses not only improved my research and report writing skills, but also spark in me the importance of meeting deadlines. It is also thanks to GDS, especially its CEO, that I have known the YALI Washington Fellows program, which I am currently very interested in. I had the chance to attend a conference on behalf of GDS at the US Embassy in Togo. During the Vocational Training Seminar held in May 2015, which Mr. Brad Hounkpati, the Founder and CEO of GDS, specially came to lead, facilitate the training sessions and, above all, and meet the GDS scholarship laureates. I was particularly touched to see the CEO of an international institution, traveling with me in the Adewui neighborhood just to printout instructions sent by the US based Board of Directors. I am even more awed to see that Mr. Brad was not even discouraged by the slow internet connexion we experienced that day. As matter of fact, the files were heavy we had difficulty downloading them.
During this adventure, nurtured with patience, Mr. Brad told me a lot of success stories about private initiatives, entrepreneurship, etc. He told me that anyone can make a living from scratch. He gave many examples of agricultural products which could serve as a starting point for a small and medium-sized enterprise and many others. I will simply say that I benefited a lot from our slow internet misadventure. Since my meeting with Mr. Brad, my vision of life and my ambitions has changed. During the seminar and his interview, Brad said that thanks to the internet, it is now possible to learn everything and realize one’s dreams. The example of Noel Tadegnon and his peers has edified us a lot. Feeding on those experiences and privileges, I created in February 2016, with two friends, a company called Tomapast of BekakGroup Sarl of which I am the Managing Director . We make tomato pastes and jams. I believe that GDS has greatly contributed to building this company by developing in me: knowledge, values and skills such as rigor, discipline, leadership and excellence.
Thanks to the entire GDS team and supporters!
Joachim H AKATITO, 2015 GDS Alumnus.