AFUA OSEI MGUSA 2013 (1st Runner Up)

“Women can be the rock on which a freer, safer, more prosperous Africa is built. They just need the opportunity.” – Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

I am extremely proud and blessed to be a Ghanaian-American woman. The generations of Ghanaian women before me who had the strength and fortitude to leave their friends, families, and homeland to create opportunities for themselves and the next generation are a never-ending source of inspiration and witness to the courage and determination that flows through my veins.

My mother, aunts, and cousins taught me what it means to be a young Ghanaian woman living in the United States. I know that I have a responsibility not just to my immediate family to take advantage of the opportunities of America, but a responsibility to share those opportunities with the millions of other young Ghanaian women who do not live in the States. Fully embracing that lesson I have excelled in the academic realm, as I prepare to complete a joint Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Policy at the University of Chicago where I received a full tuition scholarship and am one of only 6 black females in my year. In my professional life, I served as a communications and strategy consultant to help train and elect female candidates working in Illinois, Georgia, New York, and Maryland. In my personal life, I am actively involved in my community as a mentor to undergraduate students at the University of Chicago, the Chair of the Women in Public Policy at the university, and closer to home, a good role model for my younger sister. I believe I represent the next generation of young Ghanaian women: women who are using their incredible talents to advance their country by building companies, leading non-profit organizations, and nurturing the youth. Through my professional accomplishments, academic achievements, and commitment to my community I believe I represent the grace, ingenuity, and determination of young Ghanaian women and should be crowned Miss Ghana USA 2013.

My interest in serving as Miss Ghana USA 2013 isn’t limited to a recognition of my achievements in the past but in my goals and plans for the future. As I transitioned into the private sector over the past two years, I witnessed firsthand the influential role young women can play in the economic fiber of communities. Ghana has a distinguished history of women leaders who have advocated and supported their communities from historical figures such as Yaa Asantewaa and her valiant effort against colonial rule to current leaders such as Estelle Akofio-Sowah, head of Google Ghana and Lisa Opoku, Chief Operating Officer of Goldman Sachs. While Ghana has a long tradition of supporting female entrepreneurs and the country boasts the highest proportion of female entrepreneurs across the African continent, many of these women are concentrated in the informal sector where there are significant limitations to expanding their businesses and creating more consistent and reliable earnings. Unsurprisingly the same issues that keep young female entrepreneurs from reaching their full potential for success are similar to those afflicting young women in the corporate world: a lack of mentors and access to professional networks that will enable them to grow and thrive as a young professional woman.

That is why I am seeking the title of Miss Ghana USA 2013 because I believe in the power of young women to build successful careers as corporate leaders and entrepreneurs and use that power to lead communities, states, and even nations. Under the platform, Equipping, Connecting, and Empowering The Next Generation of Female Business Leaders, I plan to use my reign as Miss Ghana USA 2013 to connect young Ghanaian women interested in business and entrepreneurship in the United States with their counterparts in Ghana through a peer mentorship platform and multi-city networking events in cities with large Ghanaian populations in the United States and Ghana.

I plan to implement my platform by building a simple mobile platform that enables young women to connect to each other around similar business or career interests. The offline events will enable young women to build relationships with prominent Ghanaian businesswomen in their communities and develop connections with other young women seeking to excel in business. Not only will these events help build community amongst young professional women but will also help spread the name and increase the profile of the Miss Ghana USA pageant amongst other exceptional Ghanaian women with a commitment to professional success and interest in Ghanaian culture.

I am already committed to empowering young women leaders as the Founder of The Savvy Madam, a community of young Ghanaian women who talk and mean business. This community provides online resources with offline events, to empower young Ghanaian women as they seek to excel in the corporate world or start their own businesses. Despite only being formed in August 2012, The Savvy Madam has already garnered 1,500 Facebook likes and the launch event in January 2013 in Accra, Ghana was oversubscribed with more than 60 women attending our exclusive panel discussion on entrepreneurship and cocktail reception. As Miss Ghana USA 2013, I will be able to expand the impact of this organization and reach more young women.

Ghanaian women are leaders and entrepreneurs by nature, from members of the shea butter cooperatives in the Upper East Region to pottery makers in the Ashanti Region and cocoa farmers in the Eastern Region. I believe that same level of entrepreneurship and creativity should be encouraged amongst young Ghanaian women in the United States and as Miss Ghana USA 2013 I will make it my mission to encourage more young Ghanaian women to take up this mantle to help stimulate and grow our country. With my experience organizing communities to support female leaders and my commitment to Ghanaian women, I would be honored to represent my country and help uplift young Ghanaian women all across the United States.