His company, InovTech STEM Center, travels to schools across Ghana to teach students and teachers the ins and outs of STEM through robotics education.
“Computing [and coding] should be like a basic language — every child should learn,” Sowah, 23, says.
InovTech STEM Center offers lessons in web design, app development and 3D modeling and printing, among other skills. Workshops empower students to flex their creative muscles and find ways to apply the lessons they learn in the classroom to the tech field.
“Now they know the relevance of what they’re learning in class. They know that if I’m able to learn geometry, this is what I can do with a robot,” he says.
A defining moment
Like many entrepreneurs, Sowah’s path to success was a bit unconventional. The Ghanaian was born and raised in the coastal township of Teshie, close to the capital Accra, where he spent most days working at his grandmother’s provisions store.
He says he was interested in information technology (IT) from a young age, but he grew frustrated with how it was being taught in school. So, at 13 years old, Sowah decided to drop out and get a job at a local internet café.
“I knew I could do so much better, and I was so restricted,” he recalls.
Once he had free access to the internet, he says he spent his spare time surfing the web to watch robotics tutorials, adding “I was always researching, I was learning new things.”
The self-taught computer scientist eventually went back to school and enrolled in Labone Senior High School with dreams of becoming a neurosurgeon. But once again, Sowah says he was disappointed with a lack of emphasis on IT. This time, he took it upon himself to start a creative technology club called CREATECH.
“We started learning. We started teaching ourselves as well. And then we started going for robotics competitions,” Sowah says.
He credits his geography teacher for pushing him to turn CREATECH into the InovTech STEM Center. Today, the company is reaching students and teachers throughout the country. It works closely with the Ghana Educational Service to buy robotics kits and work with schools. But Sowah tells CNN many rural areas still face significant challenges to education.
“You go to these places, and they don’t have computers,” he says. “It’s up to us to learn it as the privileged ones and then go and teach the underprivileged ones.”
A “learning nation”
In addition to improving access to resources, Sowah is determined to help close the gender gap in STEM.
InovTech STEM Center empowers young women through its “STEM for Her” outreach program and also launched a “Girl Power Workshop” last year.
“We wanted to introduce girls to the exciting part of robotics, for them to meet those people that are already in the industry doing robotic or tech-related careers, and then mentor them, teach them and then guide them,” Sowah says, adding he believes the government can do more to support the advancement of STEM.
Sowah asks the government and other international organizations to invest in STEM across Africa, particularly in Ghana, “because what we are doing, we are doing for our country.”
“My dream for Ghana is a Ghana [where] every student [has] access to education … no matter where they are,” he adds. “A Ghana [where] every teacher is skilled … [and] has the right to resources to train the students, to inspire them and empower them.”