Ashesi Foundation welcomes new board member: Isaac Fokuo

A well-qualified international Board of Trustees from diverse professional backgrounds governs Ashesi University Foundation. Join us in welcoming our newest trustee, Isaac Fokuo. Isaac is the Founder and Principal of Botho Emerging Markets Group, an investment and strategy advisory firm, and a leading adviser to governments, investors, and multinational companies on navigating and expanding in emerging growth markets. In this interview, Isaac shares what inspired him to become a trustee, as well as his plans for contributing to making Ashesi’s vision a reality.


How did you get involved with Ashesi and what personal connection do you have to the University?

I got to know about Ashesi University through a very close friend of mine, Dr. Esi Ansah, who was recruited to work at the University as a professor way back when the Ashesi campus was in Labone. I started following the Ashesi story through her. Esi is the Chief Executive Officer of Axis Capital, where I am a partner, and back then, I would see Ashesi graduates come through the company every now and then. Every time I met these young graduates, I was very impressed with them and the difference they were making in the country.  One day, after a meeting on campus that I had attended, I asked where Patrick was (I hadn’t been able to pick him out during the meeting). I was told that he had attended the meeting and Esi described him to me. I was surprised and asked, “that was Patrick?” I was struck by his humble demeanor and unassuming personality. In addition, having attended a small liberal arts college myself, and seeing one in Ghana that was doing so well and was highly respected, spoke to my values.

What role did higher education play in your life?

Higher education continues to play a significant role in my life. As a result of the education I experienced, I find being a part of a community of thinkers and learners very interesting. I was lucky enough to go to a liberal arts college that had about 1200 students and a student-faculty ratio of 11:1. Being part of that learning process was what I needed because I wasn’t used to undirected learning. My leadership abilities also came to bear in university because that environment allowed me to blossom, express myself in a unique way, and find my leadership path since I was given the freedom and space to do that.

“I believe that Ashesi’s ethos and the way that its leadership inspires the rest of us connected to the university to behave is admirable. It demonstrates a type of leadership that we shouldn’t take for granted because it is rare.”

What do you love most about Ashesi; what inspires you about the University?

I love the fact that it’s a small university and one that is breaking boundaries in terms of bringing young Africans and non-Africans together in a place where they can learn and grow. I also love that the focus is on the student’s whole being and not just what they can “add and subtract.” Ashesi prioritizes ethics and integrity, which are very important. Africa needs great leaders that think profoundly – a generation of young people that are going to be awesome leaders across the continent. Patrick inspires me a lot because anyone can get up and start something but leading an institution to greatness is very difficult. I believe that Ashesi’s ethos and the way that its leadership inspires the rest of us connected to the University to behave is admirable. It demonstrates a type of leadership that we shouldn’t take for granted because it is rare.

What motivated you to become a trustee and how do you plan on contributing to help Ashesi fulfill its vision?

I am at a point in my life where I want to do more. I want to be a part of the process and the conversation. Being a trustee at the Ashesi Foundation gives me the ability to help influence some of these conversations, give back, and work with the institution in a way that is unique and profound. I always say that if I need to choose a school in Africa that I would be comfortable for my own child to go to, I will choose Ashesi. If my child wanted to go to Ashesi, I would encourage them to.


How would you describe your career path to date and how do you see your skills and interests contributing to help Ashesi in achieving its mission?

My career path is very unconventional because I have dabbled in a variety of areas and have met a lot of people in the process. Whenever I meet people, I make sure to tell the Ashesi story to them and find out how they can contribute to the University’s mission. Being a big pan-Africanist, I want to be able to make a significant contribution towards a renaissance in Africa. I believe this contributes to Ashesi’s mission and I will do my part in achieving this goal.


What type of legacy would you like to leave for Ashesi University?

If at some point the Ashesi way of thinking – solving complex problems in a multidimensional way, being open-minded and interrogative, having leaders who put the interests of others ahead of themselves, and having a sense of integrity in the things that we do – if that becomes a part of brand Africa, I think that would be awesome.

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