August 25, 2016
Since meeting Ashesi President Patrick Awuah at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business in the 1990s, David Small has been a steadfast supporter of Ashesi. This month, we spoke with David about how he first became inspired to support Ashesi, and why he continues to give.
You’ve been involved with Ashesi since 2001. How did you become connected to Ashesi?
Patrick Awuah and I attended UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business at the same time (together with several other people who contributed to Ashesi’s founding.) In an entrepreneurial workshop class, I reviewed some early drafts of the Ashesi business plan.
(Since we graduated in 1999, perhaps the more important question is “why did you wait until 2001?” I don’t have a great answer for that. When we graduated, I tried to start up my own business. But once I began working for another company in 2001, I had income I felt I could allocate to causes I wanted to support.)
There are so many worthy causes to support. What about Ashesi’s impact initially resonated with you?
Three things stood out.
1. I think the business plan had a Goethe quotation on it, referring to “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it now”. I like the hopefulness of a dream, rather than a business plan. I always felt that it was.
2. There was a focus on educating the next generation of African leaders. In contrast, past educational efforts in Africa tended to export the talent they developed.
3. I studied engineering and business, with a focus on entrepreneurship. I think these correlated with Ashesi’s values.
You have been a monthly supporter for several years. What inspires you to back Ashesi year after year?
It’s inertial, now. And with the University growing and succeeding, I’d like to be able to say I was able to contribute continuously, even if my giving is very small.
What do you wish other people knew about Ashesi?
I wish potential donors knew that it existed, what it’s doing, and that it’s thriving.
Where do you see Ashesi in 15 years?
That’s not a question for me to answer. What I’d like is more. I’d like Ashesi to have more students, more alumni, and to have influenced Africa (and the world) into being more innovative, more organized, and more just.
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