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SynCommerce CEO Attends Obama Leaders: Africa and Reminisces on Kofi Annan’s Leadership

Sylvana Lewin, Tuesday September 4th 2018

Recently, the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa program brought together 200 emerging leaders from across the African continent to explore new ways to take on the biggest challenges in their communities. The group heard from an incredible lineup of speakers including founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation Mo Ibrahim, founder and CEO of IROKO Jason Njoku, founder of Ashesi University Patrick Awuah, former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and many others.

The event was also graced by the wisdom of Kofi Annan. As we mourn his death this past weekend, we must also remember the inspiration and hope he provided for so many young leaders. MEST alumni and SynCommerce CEO Christian Osei-Bonsu was among the 200 emerging leaders at the program. He talked to us about how impactful meeting Kofi Annan was for him as a Ghanaian as well as the inspiration Kofi Annan provided him.

What was your biggest takeaway from your recent trip to Cape Town for Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa?

I left with a huge sense of hope for my country Ghana, Africa, and the world at large. Seeing all these enthusiastic and passionate Young Leaders, what we are doing, and what we want to do to make the world a better place, there’s hope. And that if we all, from our various areas of work to impact change, would keep doing our best with utmost honesty and integrity, then the world would not be the same. We can do this together.

What did Kofi Annan mean to you? How did he inspire you?

As a Ghanaian especially, it felt good to have someone of that magnitude, with all the contributions he has made to creating a better world, present at the program. There’s so much power in believing in possibilities, and that for me is what Kofi Annan represented. He represented that someone from a young African country - Ghana - could become the head of arguably the most powerful organization in the world. There’s no limit to what you can do when you keep dreaming, and keep working on those dreams. Kofi Annan was so right in saying, “it always starts with a dream”.

What do you believe made Kofi Annan such a successful leader?

Humility, the belief in possibilities, belief in and work towards change, and growing up at a time when he had great leaders to look up to during Ghana's independence. He once said at the Obama: Leaders African convening in Johannesburg, that “one is never too young to lead, and we are not too old to learn”. I guess he was also a good learner, a value that would certainly have helped him in his journey.

How do you plan on being a role model for future generations as Kofi Annan has been for so many?

I pledge to do the best that I can, wherever I find myself, in whatever position I find myself, in all honesty, humility, respect, and integrity. I have set out to create a better life, a better Ghana, and a better world for myself and the people around me. Only time could tell how far that would take me. I hope when it’s all done, people find inspiration in it, but the most important thing for me is that the world would have been a better place than I found it, even if by an inch.

Interested in learning more about Kofi Annan’s Lessons of Leadership? See this article from Obama Foundation.