Scholarship funding is enabling a Ghanaian student to pursue his dream to start a business promoting entrepreneurial growth in Africa.
Charles Dollie was awarded a scholarship from the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme (CSSS) in partnership with Wadham College and Blavatnik School of Government. Born in Accra, Ghana, Charles describes a childhood experience with poverty that made a deep impression on him. His dad lost his job when he was nine, and the family slipped from lower middle class to poor soon after. Living in a slum-like neighbourhood, Charles hawked iced water at the lorry station to help support his family’s income when he was not studying in a local, government-run school. “The level of poverty made a strong impression on me. I was determined to come out of it. I worked very hard in school and got good grades and was able to get one of the few scholarship places in a private university to study Business Administration,” recounts Charles. But as his family emerged from that trying stretch, he also learnt a vital lesson: that poverty is by no means a permanent condition. So there was hope.
After University, he worked at the African Center for Economic Transformation, an Accra based think tank providing economic research and policy advice for selected African governments, to promote economic growth and transformation. “I had always had a passion for African development and am keen that the continent fulfils its potential,” said Charles. Here he was able to gain first-hand knowledge of the challenges that African policy-makers face and the constraints on their capacity to work within a complex political system.
“I saw some of the challenges of working in the field of public policy and decided that I wanted to broaden my knowledge, so started looking at masters programmes. The one year multidisciplinary programme at the Blavatnik School appealed greatly to me. I applied without knowing how I was going to pay, but thankfully I was awarded a scholarship. It has given me the opportunity to acquire the analytical skills and leadership development to make me more effective in pursuit of my goals. I have made an amazing network of friends who I can bounce ideas off, and they will be friends for life. It is intellectually challenging and gives me the opportunity to develop myself to become world class and help me fulfil my dreams for African development."
After his course, Charles plans to return to Ghana to work at the intersection of public policy with the private sector, as a consultant in Ghana. He hopes to start his own organisation in the near future to promote entrepreneurial growth in Africa.
Weather aside, Charles has found Oxford welcoming and supportive, particularly the community at Wadham College. “I am not short of things to do and the graduate facility at Wadham is a good place to work and hang out. I like to play table tennis in the JCR and have no time to miss home,” he said.