Sarpong is a graduate of Emory University School of Medicine at the United States and CEO of the African Research Academies for Women (ARAW). His foundation, provides fully funded research experiences for young women, pairing them with mentors and supporting them in their studies and careers.
He shared his experience at lecture hosted by a group of Ghanaians at Goldwin Smith Hall – Cornell University United States.
Sarpong said he became aware of the lack of research opportunities in his homeland especially for women, while he was studying. “There’s no funding institute in Ghana for research, like the NIH, and there’s this huge gender gap between male and female scientists.” This is the reason behind his drive.
Determined to make a change, he said he slept for just three hours a night at Emory University, working to create this non-profit organisation aimed at bringing research opportunities to young African women.
Sarpong founded ARAW in the winter of 2013 with his friend Shadrack Osei Frimpong. The process was not easy as Sarpong had to juggle a full course-load, research and a job in addition to this project. People told me, ‘Oh, this thing is not going to work, you are wasting your time,” he said.
ARAW began gaining momentum in the spring of 2014, receiving $8,000 in funding and an invitation to the Clinton Global Initiative conference. Speaking at the White House in a gathering attended by prominent African Leaders, Sarpong raised awareness about the initiative.
ARAW is based primarily in Ghana, with plans to create a network of research centres across Africa.
Bernard Baffoe-Mensah aged 20 said Sarpong’s story inspired him to pursue his own initiatives. “I had an idea to start a foundation, but I didn’t know where to start,” Baffoe-Mensah said. “It showed me that the world that we live in needs us and we have to go out there and give it all that we have.”
Ida Adjivon, 17 said “I love having events like this because it just showcases how there is more to the African person than just the stereotypes that you hear all the time. We have people on the continent who are doing amazing things.”