Patrick Awuah and the Global Impact of the Berkeley MBA

By Morgan Bernstein

Berkeley MBA alum Patrick Awuah, founder of Ashesi University in Ghana and one of Fortune's 50 greatest world leaders

In the Berkeley MBA Program, student projects can have lasting global impact. This was the case when work in the International Business Development (IBD) course fed into to creation of a transformational university in Africa.

With an international student population of 43 percent and and an abundance of global and experiential learning opportunities, it's no surprise that our full-time MBA program helped shape a leader like Patrick Awuah, MBA 99, who co-founded Ashesi University in his home country of Ghana. His university's mission: To train and educate the next generation of leaders for Africa.

In 2015 Awuah received one of UC Berkeley's highest honors, the Elise and Walter A. Haas International Award for service to his home country. He was also named one of the world's 50- greatest leaders by Fortune—along with Pope Francis, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Awuah grew up in Ghana, leaving home in 1985 with $50 and a full scholarship to Swarthmore College. He launched his career at Microsoft and, upon the birth of his first child, was inspired to make a difference in Africa and came up with the idea for Ashesi.

He came to the Berkeley MBA Program to translate his vision into a successful and self-sustaining enterprise. While at Haas, he proposed startup elements of Ashesi as a project for the International Business Development course. He formed a team of fellow students that included Nina Marini, who became his co-founder and served as vice president of Ashesi until 2005.

They founded Ashes University in 2002, after graduating from Berkeley-Haas. Since its founding, the university has built a 100-acre hillside campus and graduated hundreds of students, who go on to work for international firms as well as for Ghanaian enterprises, nonprofits and government, with nearly all of them staying on the continent to contribute their talents to Africa's future.

"We’re trying to train leaders of exceptional integrity, who can lead a renaissance in Africa,” Awuah told Berkeley-Haas magazine in 2012. 

Ashesi University continues to be a client for the International Business Development (IBD) course, along with companies, nonprofits, and NGOs from around the world. Take a look at the potential opportunities for global impact and get a glimpse of the IBD experience these student videos.

See the IBD Student Experience

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Morgan Bernstein
Morgan was the Executive Director of Full-time MBA Admissions at Haas from 2016-2019 as well as a graduate of the program. She enjoys making personal connections with prospective students and guiding them through the MBA admission process.