My Journey as Founder of Grain de Sel Togo: From Receiver to Giver
Guest post by Brad K. Hounkpati, Chairman/President, Grain de Sel Togo
Grain de Sel Togo (GDS) is a Georgian 501c3 organization I initiated with a group of Togolese Fulbright Scholars. The Fulbright Program has been the foundational inspiration leading to the creation of GDS in Athens, GA, and now established in Togo and very recently in France.
I came to the U.S. under the Fulbright Program and I didn’t realize how sufficient my Fulbright stipend was until I became a Teaching Assistant and fully responsible for my tuition payment. Without the help of some of my friends, I would not be able to make it to where I am today. Being ever grateful to my friends, my host university, and to the Fulbright Program, I decided to take action.
Thus in July 2013, with the assistance of four other Togo Fulbright grantees, I founded and launched Grain de Sel Togo. At the beginning, we planned to assist only one student per year, but surprisingly 10 students have been supported in 2 years. It is now clear that this is not just about us, but the whole world.
At GDS, we are dedicated to helping ambitious and talented, but underprivileged students in African public universities through scholarships and coaching.
In 2 years, and thanks to the support of generous people, GDS has been able to:
• Offer 10 scholarships (full tuition and monthly stipends)
• Organize 2 career development workshops in Lomé, Togo (West Africa), with the participation of more than 300 students
• Contribute to the admission of 2 Master students in France
• Subsidize more than 25 new laptops and other electronic devises to those students, in partnership with BSBIZTOTO
• Create and launch an online teaching platform to help laureates learn more and familiarize themselves with online learning tools
• Assist many scholars to settle in U.S. academic institutions
This year, new grantees have been selected and new country partnerships are underway in other African countries. GDS is also planning three career development workshops in Togo.