Growing up in a strict Ghanaian household in the United Kingdom, education was a priority for media entrepreneur Peace Hyde. In her words, “If you’re not a doctor, or a lawyer, or an engineer, then what are you doing with your life?” But despite the pressure from her family to become a doctor and her strong interest in science, Hyde preferred the arts over dissecting frogs in Biology class.
Surprisingly, Hyde’s mother did not fret much when she set out on her first musical performance in Mary Poppins at age 11. She says her mother is “like Superwoman, she does everything well.” Her mother’s desire to instill those same ‘superwoman’ qualities in her daughter prompted Hyde to be equally as cultured as she was educated. Despite her mom’s acknowledgment of her daughter’s gift of commanding an audience, tradition made Hyde’s mother adverse to her young daughter pursuing any career in the arts.
So for over a decade, Hyde studied the sciences—ultimately leading to a career teaching chemistry, biology, and physics in the UK. Peace achieved great successes as an educator, but her desire to be in front of an audience never left her spirit. In 2014, she moved “back home” to Ghana to pursue her childhood passion of acting. A year later, she scored her first role in MTV’s Shuga as an HIV positive mother and mentor. Though her childhood dream was being realized, Hyde found little rest when she witnessed the unthinkable.
It was at the street markets in metropolitan Ghana that she witnessed children working long hours, carrying heavy loads on their heads, for less than $1 a day. She knew that she couldn’t just be a bystander, witnessing the ills of streetism—a common practice in Ghana where children are forced to spend most of their time outside their homes, engaging in menial income-generating activities in order to survive; oftentimes having to sleep on the rough streets. Hyde, day in and day out, would travel to the marketplace and approach children saying, “Let me pay you for a day’s work, and in exchange, you allow me to teach you how to start your own business.” It was there that she took her skills as an educator and former child psychologist to start a movement. She set out on a mission of “bridging the gap between poverty and prosperity” by creating Aim Higher Africa. According to Hyde, the goal is simple, “to build a dynamic network of Youngpreneurs that create sustainable and scalable businesses.”
Hyde sat down with Black Enterprise to discuss how in less than three years, she and her team at Aim Higher Africa have started over 500 small businesses for former street kids—that now employ over 2,000 youth across the continent of Africa.
BE: How long have you been in business?
Peace: A little over three years now.
BE: How have you used the business of education to empower the next generation?
Peace: When I relocated to Africa to pursue acting, I worked as a consultant for an international school in Ghana to pay the bills. My role as a consultant was to ensure that teachers, children, and parents have rigorous and engaging experience that better prepare students for university, business, life, and beyond. Giving students and schools the structure they needed to strengthen the quality of education as a whole, was very fulfilling and ultimately led to the creation of Aim Higher Consulting.
BE: How has the power of education changed your life?
Peace: I always knew I wanted to make an impact and I have always seen education as a powerful tool for social change. Education transforms the lives of youth living in extreme poverty. When you see someone begin to understand concepts that you or I take for granted and how those concepts—like literacy or numeracy—opens up a whole new world for them, it’s a phenomenal experience. I now focus more resources on using education to develop the right mindset for youth to achieve their fullest potential.
BE: What unique challenge(s) have you faced in breaking stereotypes?
Peace: One of the biggest stumbling blocks for women is the power of negative perception. Even though we have come a long way, there is still a strong male chauvinistic culture in Africa and most parts of the world. No matter how much a woman achieves, it is still not enough unless she is married. And when she is married and successful, it is still not enough unless she has children. Women are simply meant to play a type of role and unfortunately being a “mogul” is just not good enough. I’ve fought for the financial inclusion of women in business and am working to bridge the gender gap for men and women. Through my More Than A Woman initiative, we’ve provided about $350,000 to women-owned businesses.
BE: How is the work that you do a form of activism?
Peace: At Aim Higher Africa, we created an initiative to address ‘streetism’ in Ghana. There are an estimated 25,000 street children in the greater Accra area alone. These children are exposed to all sorts of dangerous conditions like abuse, sexually transmitted diseases, stealing for food and basic survival. We reach out to these same children and give them the tools necessary to embark on their entrepreneurial journey. We create campaigns reaching government and state institutions that have astonishing [results]. Today, we have created over 500 small businesses, which provide employment to over 2,000 youth across Africa.
BE: What are three tips for bridging the gap between technology and learning in impoverished communities?
Peace: First, we must address the issue of accessibility to finances—financial institutions should focus on providing financial literacy by partnering with microfinance companies who can facilitate programs that incorporate technology in the learning programs.
Second, there must be resources readily available—products that facilitate the incorporation of IT in learning. Organizations can donate old computers and telecommunications services to local communities that bridge the gap between technology and learning—like smartphones and internet access.
More importantly, there must be accessibility to human capital—providing the right human resource training in impoverished communities.
Once the issue of accessibility is solved, it becomes extremely easy to deliver any tech-led learning program, in any impoverished community.
BE: What legacy do you want to leave with your work?
Peace: There is an old African proverb, “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” I want to leave a legacy of someone who fought to make an impact and show the youth in Africa and all over the world that they can achieve their fullest potential no matter what life throws at them.
BE: Who inspires you?
Peace: The work of Oby Ezekwesili; from speaking up to the Nigerian government when over 200 girls got abducted by terrorists to launching the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, her work has played a key role in how I perceive the importance of taking action. In a country plagued with corruption, she stood for what was right and caused the world to pay attention.
In her role as host of Forbes AfricaTV’s, My Worst Day with Peace Hyde, Hyde has learned that the most successful business moguls all have insurmountable odds to overcome. By blending her roots in education with her passion for media, giving, and entrepreneurship, Peace Hyde is using her voice to change the globe one ‘Youngpreneur’ at a time. By giving them the tools, resources and capital to start, grow, and sustain viable businesses, Hyde is living her life’s motto of helping people understand and realize that, “So long as they trust the process, put their minds to it, and never quit, they can create whatever future they want for themselves and their families”—one business at a time.
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Crystal I. Berger is the author of “Be Extraordinary: Claiming a Life of Purpose, Passion and Prosperity.” She’s a motivational speaker, host, and producer/writer. Check out her podcast “Extraordinary” on FOX News Radio. Crystal writes for FOX News Opinions and FOX News Magazine in addition to being a fill-in host for Joy In Our Town on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. Follow Crystal @cbinspires and hashtag #BeEXTRA and #BEInspired always!