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JOSEPH ABANKWA
YOUTH IN IT

AGE: 21
NATIONALITY: Ghanaian
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Info Tech | Syracuse University
WORK: President | SankofaTech

Joseph was born and raised in Kumasi, Ghana. Growing up, computers were not a common commodity in the average household; therefore using one was rare. At the age of 10, Joseph’s father shipped a desktop computer to Ghana.  Although it was the first time he had touched a computer, he sneakily assembled it and immediately fell in love. After migrating to the Bronx, NY with his two brothers at the age of 12, Joseph’s perspective about technology significantly changed. Not only were computers prevalent, but they were also readily accessible.  He became fascinated by the way information was available to anyone through the internet.

At the age of 16, Joseph enrolled at Syracuse University. Though his parents wanted him to become a doctor or pharmacist, Joseph pursued a degree in Information Management & Technology. In spite of little direction or guidance, Joseph remained determined and challenged himself to embark on this career path. In his sophomore year, Joseph was selected to be one of the few Syracuse University students to participate in the Global Enterprise Technology 8 month co-op program at JPMorgan Chase.  During the course of the internship, Joseph and a group of other interns identified a problem/opportunity at JPMorgan and proposed a well-defined solution, which was later implemented. In addition, Joseph and his group had the opportunity to present their solution to the firm-wide CIO of JPMorgan Chase.  He concluded his internship experience by participating in a short-term program where he traveled to six European countries to observe how global corporations leverage technology to improve their products and services.

Upon returning to campus the following semester, Joseph was driven to gain a deeper understanding of technology and computer programming. He enrolled in a Java development course and participated in a hackathon and an app competition to develop his technical skills. Joseph’s aim was to be innovative and create products that would impact people.  Thus, when he saw an opportunity within his church, Joseph took the initiative to create an android app that would enable church members to read and sing hymns in their native language on their mobile devices. The app became popular and impactful among the Ghanaian Adventist community; rather than carrying physical hymn books, the app increased accessibility while also serving as an alternative medium. 

With this motivation, Joseph co-founded SankofaTech, a non-profit organization with the mission to leverage technology as a social good and inspire the next generation of African youth through ministry, community development and youth empowerment. In addition, Joseph is involved in a community based initiative where he gives back to Africans across the diaspora.

Joseph currently works at a technology consulting firm where he helps clients achieve high-performance.  His future ambitions include going back to school to further hone his technical skills, and starting a technology company in the U.S. or back home in Ghana.

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