His company, InovTech STEM Center, travels to schools in Ghana to teach students and teachers the ins and outs of STEM through robotics education.
“Computing [and coding] it should be like a basic language: every child should learn it,” says 23-year-old Sowah.
InovTech STEM Center offers lessons in web design, app development, and 3D modeling and printing, among other skills. The workshops allow students to flex their creative muscles and find ways to apply the lessons they learn in the classroom to the field of technology.
“Now they know the relevance of what they are learning in class. They know that if I can learn geometry, this is what I can do with a robot,” she says.
a defining moment
Like many entrepreneurs, Sowah’s path to success was a bit unconventional. The Ghanaian was born and raised in the coastal township of Teshie, near the capital Accra, where he spent most days working in his grandmother’s grocery store.
He says that he was interested in information technology (IT) from a young age, but became frustrated with the way it was taught in school. So, at age 13, Sowah decided to drop out of school and get a job at a local internet cafe.
“I knew I could do much better and I was very restricted,” he recalls.
Once he had free internet access, he says he spent his free time surfing the web for robotics tutorials, adding that he was “always researching, learning new things.”
The self-taught computer scientist eventually went back to school, enrolling at Labone Senior High School with dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. But once again, Sowah says that he was disappointed by the lack of emphasis on IT. This time, he took it upon himself to start a creative technology club called CREATECH.
“We started learning. We also started teaching ourselves. And then we started participating in robotics competitions,” says Sowah.
He credits his geography teacher for pushing him to turn CREATECH into the InovTech STEM Center. Today, the company is reaching students and teachers across the country. It works closely with the Ghana Education Service to purchase robotics kits and work with schools. But Sowah tells CNN that many rural areas still face significant challenges to education.
“You go to these places and they don’t have computers,” he says. “It’s up to us to learn it like the privileged ones and then go and teach the disadvantaged.”
A “Nation of Learning”
In addition to improving access to resources, Sowah is determined to help close the gender gap in STEM.
InovTech STEM Center empowers young women through its “STEM for Her” outreach program and also launched a “Girl Power Workshop” last year.
“We wanted to introduce girls to the exciting part of robotics, to meet people who are already in the industry doing robotics or technology-related careers, and then mentor them, teach them, and then mentor them,” Sowah says, adding he believes the government can do more to support the advancement of STEM.
Sowah calls on the government and other international organizations to invest in STEM in Africa, particularly Ghana, “because what we are doing, we are doing for our country.”
“My dream for Ghana is a Ghana [where] each student [has] access to education…no matter where they are,” he adds. “A Ghana [where] Every teacher is an expert… [and] You have a right to the resources to train, inspire, and empower students.”