Interview with Esther Dede Lawer from Aid-Out Ghana

Interviewer: Lady Kukua Atta-Peters

Edited by: Gilan Choubachy, Mona Timor Shehata

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: When was this NGO founded?

Esther Dede Lawer: On 06/20/2010

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What has inspired the idea for this foundation?

Esther Dede Lawer: An experience with two orphans who snatched my purse at Agbogbloshie, a suburb in Accra, the capital city of Ghana. I realized that they did this so they could fend for themselves and other street kids on a daily basis.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Have you fulfilled your vision for this foundation?

Esther Dede Lawer: Maybe because I call it a vision, it requires a long time to be fulfilled, and I am on a mission to achieve it. So not yet, but I am on my way to achieving it and I am not giving up until I get people to believe in my vision and would achieve it together.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Which group of people benefit from AID OUT GHANA and how are they selected? 

Esther Dede Lawer: Children (0-16). However, there are exceptions for extreme situations, such as families or elderly persons. When we discover a certain situation, we try to solve it or make a difference. Therefore, we select orphanages or institutions and give them possible solutions. We do not leave them hanging till these situations are solved. Therefore, yes, we have dealt with orphanages, schools and families as well.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How often does the foundation help the less privileged in society?

Esther Dede Lawer: Yearly and it is done randomly.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How does AID OUT GHANA impact the society/country?

Esther Dede Lawer: Our support to society contributes to the bigger social support system in Ghana and consequently helping our fellow citizens in a state of need and deprivation get by. The greater contribution is the reduction in social vices and deaths arising out of poverty and abject neglect of the marginalized in Society.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How has the Ghanaian society responded to the foundation?

Esther Dede Lawer: Well it’s been slow. They are not as involved as expected. People have their doubts and different approaches towards NGOs and are mostly reluctant to get involved, in any way: be it cash or in-kind support. But so far so good.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: In what ways do you support the NGO financially on a daily basis?

Esther Dede Lawer: It has been family and friends from day one. Then monthly dues are paid by members, the board members, donors and an international association located in Ohio, US who are currently aiding our community in building a school project in Dodowa. We are grateful to everyone for their support.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: Do you work with a team? If yes, what major challenges do you face as the founder with regards to leading a team?

Esther Dede Lawer: Yes. First of all, having the right balance, this is one major challenge to me as a social worker. As there is a very thin line between pushing people too hard to get things right and giving a gentle nudge, especially, when it is a voluntary work and for a non-profit organization. The unfortunate thing is that there are some members or volunteers who will not be as passionate as I am when it comes to serving humanity and society. Hence, they make less effort. This behaviour compels me to push them real hard to get results and this is very tough. Another challenge is getting the Buy-in from people. Winning hearts and minds is tough especially when your proposal does not have a commercial benefit to your sponsors or donors.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How has your educational knowledge influenced your decisions in the management of the foundation?

Esther Dede Lawer: My educational knowledge helps me greatly in goal setting and resource management. This helps me to diligently manage all the needed resources in my work, namely; people, finances and project materials. Additionally, it has helped me by imbibing in me excellent project execution and monitoring skills. Above all, I have been educated to pray before making decisions.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: How do you select your team/ recruit members?

Esther Dede Lawer: Mainly through the onboarding of volunteers and through a formal recruitment process. We place emphasis on the display of passion and commitment for the work we do. 

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What is your perspective on girl child education in Ghana?

Esther Dede Lawer: Females are more than 51% of the entire Ghanaian population. Hence, education should be a prerequisite for them to be able to significantly contribute to the aspirations of development in Ghana. When it comes to girl child education, Ghana is doing well. As a developing country, this practice is at a slower pace especially for girls living in rural areas where cultural patriarchy and stereotypes against female education are still prevalent. However, when this section of the population is educated properly, it will have a great impact on Ghana’s development in general. Ghana Education Service (GES) should train their staff in charge of girl-child education unit in all districts to successfully implement policies and programs aimed at promoting girl-child education.

HR Revolution Middle East Magazine: What advice would you generally give to young women trying to make it in any business setting?

Esther Dede Lawer: Get into an apprenticeship or follow the guidance of a mentor. Take your time to understand your market dynamics (supply and demand sides). Be abreast with all the regulations and laws of your chosen field. Do not over trade. Do due diligence in all you are trading. Focus on relationship management. Build a good team, grow organically, focus, commit and work hard.