When her organization had problems finding office space for their alumni network, Rashidatu Iddrisah spotted the perfect opportunity for a cross-sectoral partnership.
Rashidatu Iddrisah, CAMFED
I believe that every leader needs the right partnership and the right networks in order to succeed. From my experience, leaders are able to achieve greater and far reaching results, even with minimal resources, when there’s collaboration. This was my biggest takeaway from the Africa Venture. I saw first-hand how leaders from across all sectors shared the importance of building longlasting partnerships. As each leader spoke, I saw a pattern emerging – each one of them didn’t achieve success on their own; instead they achieved it through partnership and collaboration.
When you educate a girl, everything changes
I work for CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), an international not-for-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed. For me, my job is more than a job: it’s my calling. I was one of the girls that the organization supported to complete my education. Through the little interventions that CAMFED puts in place, a young girl’s story, like mine, changes for the better.
Before the Africa Venture, I wasn’t thinking about expanding my network and actively seeking out potential partners. Sure, I have always been the type of person who genuinely loves meeting new people. And it wouldn’t take long for me to turn the conversation around to my passion for young women’s education. However, after the programme, I realized how much I have underutilized this leadership strength – my innate ability to connect with people.
The programme reinforced some of my strengths as a leader. I knew that I was good at communicating and meeting new people. What I didn’t realize was how powerful those skills are when used with an end goal in mind. I became more deliberate about using them to my advantage.
I realized how much I have underutilized this leadership strength.
Securing office space for alumni
This is something I’ve been able to take back into my role. For example, back in 2018, CAMA, the CAMFED alumnae association for graduates, had problems securing an office space in the upper east region of Ghana. CAMA is the largest alumni network in Africa – it’s spurring remarkable change because of the work that our alumni do. However, we were unable to maximize our efforts because we didn’t have a permanent office space. It was up to me (as the chairperson at that time) to think of a way to secure the space, essentially for free, due to lack of resources.
I knew that in order to take on this challenge, I needed to be deliberate about approaching the right people within my network.
Partnership between CAMA and the government
As a result of the new perspective I gained on the Africa Venture, it became easier for me to spot possible partnerships with the government. In Ghana, CAMA members are making enormous strides in improving the quality of education in the region. By focusing on our goals, we were also helping the government achieve theirs. I realized that I could leverage this to secure a partnership.
A few weeks after the Africa Venture ended, CAMA hosted an alumni event and invited prominent government officials of the region; one of those who accepted was the regional minister. After the event, I approached him and gave a convincing argument on why a cross-sector partnership was necessary in order for both CAMA and the government to further improve education in Ghana. By the end of the conversation, the regional minister agreed to allocate an office space for us in one of their buildings.
It became easier for me to spot possible partnerships
Partnerships that create change
I strongly believe that in our quest to develop as leaders, we need to get better at seeking and building our networks. We need to be able to spot those possible partnerships with others. In this globally connected world, we need collaboration and partnerships in order to maximize resources, streamline work and achieve greater results.
I wish every young leader could have the opportunity to go through the Africa Venture as I did – it is empowering. I describe it as a hub of solutions. It brings together brainy young people to share experiences that translate into solutions for the different problems we face.
CAMFED is a not-for-profit organization that supports marginalized girls to go to school, succeed and lead. To learn more about how you can take action for girls’ education in Africa, please visit camfed.org/get-involved