Africa Our Home Founders Shawn Dillard and Dom Adabi Share their Story

Via Africa Our Home:

The vision of Africa Our Home began in 2008 by Dom Adabi, Togolese-Ghanaian. During this time Dom had returned to West Africa from Canada after spending high school, undergrad and some years working for Microsoft. Having experienced numerous moments during his time abroad where stereotypical negative/ignorant images of Africa still persisted (do you play with lions, do you live in a hut,etc.) Dom was motivated to start an organization that showed the true face of Africa.

The TINA (this is the new Africa) movement, was emerging during this time and young Africans across the Continent wanted to highlight the entrepreneurial, technology immersed and locally-driven solutions to challenges facing Africa, not the foreign aid dependent impoverished Continent that floods global media. Thus, Africa Our Home was envisioned as an organization that would work with local leaders to define and develop solutions towards Africa’s development working as partners with (not dependent upon) like-minded global citizens. The name Africa Our Home was selected to signify that all persons are linked to Africa, as the birthplace of humanity, everyone was welcome to view Africa as their ancestral home and to work towards its development.

In 2012, Ms. Shawn Dillard, African-American met Dom in Cape Coast, Ghana where she’d been working for a year as the Country Director for Intrax-ProWorld Ghana. Intrax based out of San Francisco, is a large corporate service provider of global internships, study abroad, faculty-led groups and other cultural exchange programs. Shawn managed their social development programs in Ghana. Through this role, she partnered with government agencies, NGO’s, schools and rural communities to support small-scale development projects through volunteers, capacity-building, in-kind and monetary donations. Learning about Dom’s vision, Shawn was keen to bring her knowledge, skills, and experiences to join the African start-up and partnered with Dom as a co-founder to launch AOH as a social enterprise, registered in Lomé, Togo in 2013.

Like most social enterprises, AOH provides services to clients and utilizes the income generated from those services to support social and environmental initiatives. AOH currently serves two markets: 1)Africa and 2) America. In Africa, Africa Our Home provides affordable websites and on-line ads services, business English courses and we initiate our own social projects (environmental: teak tree reforestation project and support for women and girls: technology training and menstrual hygiene management in schools).

For America, we provide Africa Our Home Global Programs: ProWorld Ghana and Discover-Togo. Two
ethical and culturally appropriate volunteer service, internship and faculty-led group programs (fun note: The Discover-Togo program was a 2015 Echoing Green semi-finalist, top 13% of applicants for its Climate program).2 University clients include University of Missouri-School of Nursing, University of Missouri-Service Learning, Florida Gulf Coast University-Social Work and Nursing, among others. Our American clients can serve on any AOH internal project or one of our local partners’: e.g. health agencies, schools and NGO’s. We facilitate all in-country logistical arrangements, provide workshops around cultural awareness and sustainable development and provide adventure and cultural excursions.

AOH Global Programs is currently focused on American recruitment. We seek to increase Africa as a study and service abroad destination. Currently, only 3% of students studying abroad in America go to Africa compared to 55% going to European destinationsN(Institute of International Education
#opendoorsreport 2016). We also seek to increase the diversity of America’s global citizen through
marketing, workshops, and scholarships to increase the participation of people of color who study or serve abroad.

The statistics clearly demonstrates the need for increased diversity abroad: 72.9% of White student’s study abroad compared to 8.8% Latino and only 5.6% Black (ibid). The statistics in academia parallel those of the Peace Corps, America’s largest volunteer service organization. We see this gap as a missed opportunity for all Americans to acquire cultural competency and other resume-building skills needed in a 21st-century global economy.

Africa Our Home Founders Shawn Dillard and Dom Adabi Share their Story

Andrea Price is the founder of The Giving Net. She enjoys a good story and soul food. Follow her on Twitter @iamandreaprice.