Scaling Ashesi University Project Report

by – Cybil Tinemiishe Mupazviriwo


The aim of this project was to scale up a non-profit organisation with the case study of Ashesi University. Using Design Thinking methods, this study will prove if Ashesi can thrive in other parts of Africa outside Ghana.


To achieve the aim of this project as outlined in the introduction, a research was conducted to find out people’s thoughts on an institution like Ashesi.

Target Population

The research was conducted in the following African countries; Nigeria,  Uganda and Zimbabwe. African students studying in China and United States of  America were also interviewed.

In the selected population, the target population were mainly students in universities.

Research Methods

  1. Cognitive Walk through
  2. In depth Interviews

Research questions

The research was aimed at finding out what kind of university students preferred in terms of living conditions, curriculum, locations, size and campus life. In the end, these responses were to be compared against the Ashesi standards.

Using a cognitive walkthrough, students were asked to map out how they chose the school they were currently enrolled in, what they considered and what informed their decisions.

In-depth Interviews were also conducted where students interviewed on what they thought was an ideal college in terms of size, curriculum, location, campus life, costs and any other factors they considered.


The following are some of the quotes  that came out in the research

“Breadth in study is  very vital to me “

“ Education offered must meet the needs of the society practically”

“ I chose a place I could grow socially, intellectually and emotionally.”

“ A  good university must be prestigious”

“ I want to learn across all disciplines and be in charge of my college life”

 Results in summary

  • Almost 81% of the interviewees preferred small colleges where they could get enough attention. They also believed smaller institutions were more efficient
  • The majority felt that the liberal Arts system was better during undergraduate studies then specialisation for graduate studies.
  • Some felt that the best colleges were the ones that were specialised eg technical colleges or business colleges.
  • Almost all interviewees wanted to be met half way in the payment of fees through financial aid
  • A wide curriculum where students can choose from came about in almost all of the interviewees’ preferences.
  • Many also felt that study abroad programs, travel opportunities and programs with worldwide connections would make college life more fun.



After sensemaking and visualisation, the data obtained was analysed using a journey map and a persona. The POVs that resulted are


Chingwa, ( a college student), needs an institution where she can pursue neuroscience, music and dance altogether,  where she has a chance to travel, have fun and meet new people so that she can have a successful college life.

Journey Map

A college student needs a prestigious, accessible and reasonably small college with reasonable fees or financial aid and a live campus so that he/she can grow socially, emotionally and intellectually in college.

Mega POV

Students need prestigious and accessible institutions with affordable fees or financial aid and a liberal arts system supporting worldwide programs so that they can have a vibrant college experience.



Ashesi University is a liberal Arts College in Ghana that is small, private and non-profit. It is defined by three pillars which are

  • Scholarship
  • Leadership
  • Citizenship

It is a 4-year undergraduate college with 6 bachelor degree programs since its inception in 2002. It is the first institution to establish an honour system in Africa. It has small class sizes and a small but vibrant campus situated on a hill in Berekuso Accra. Ashesi has many study-abroad partners and also supports worldwide programs such as the Melton fellowships and the Dalai Lama Fellowship.  22% of the students are fully funded while 29 % are partially funded. See also

Ashesi is almost what most students are looking for in many parts of Africa in terms of class size, population, liberal arts system, study abroad, international opportunities and financial aid. Other conditions that might have to improve to make Ashesi the ideal college everyone is looking for are accessibility, (road networks to town as students enjoy hanging out away from school) and broadness in the curriculum. Considering that the college is still new, there is room for a broad curriculum with time but also the population size must be maintained.

Considering all the conditions that Ashesi offers, in comparison to what students really look for in colleges, it is therefore to a greater extent that Ashesi would thrive in the parts of Africa where this research was conducted.




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