BYU students alleviate poverty through Brighten Africa

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Brighton Kriser
Augustine Boateng, Brighten Africa’s program manager in Ghana, sits with his wife Helina, and daughters Vina and Treasure. (Brighton Kriser)

Several BYU students are working to alleviate poverty in Ghana by providing Ghanaians with data entry jobs and technical training.

BYU student Brighton Kriser founded Brighten Africa, a company that finds Ghanaians with basic computer skills, pays them to do data entry work for six hours a day and then teaches them higher level computer skills.

“We hope that as time goes on and people gain higher level web-development skills that we will also be able to provide jobs for them to do different programming, like front-end web development and things of that nature,” Kriser said.

The seeds of the idea for Brighten Africa started growing while Kriser was serving an LDS mission in Ghana. During his mission, Kriser realized that although many Ghanaians were gaining education, there didn’t seem to be enough jobs in Ghana for everyone, and many people were unemployed.

Kriser then met and baptized a man named Augustine Boateng.

“Augustine had gone to college and after graduating was unable to find a job because the job market was bad within Ghana,” Kriser said. “Because of this, he taught himself web development and was able to source jobs for himself from different places like America and Europe.”

Kriser spoke with Augustine and asked him what he could do to give other Ghanaians a similar opportunity. After discussing and developing ideas, Brighten Africa began with Augustine as the program manager.

“Currently, we are employing four Ghanaian citizens, and are hoping to bring on two more employees each month for the next six months,” Kriser said, “we are really looking forward to being able to provide jobs.”

BYU student Jeff Todd, another member of the Brighten Africa team, said he is proud Brighten Africa is able to pay its student employees much more than the Ghanaian minimum wage.

“We currently pay our students more than 50 percent above Ghanaian minimum wage for only six hours of work a day,” Todd said. “On top of the social impact of higher wages our students earn, these students also receive great technical training in web development that will lead to far higher incomes in the future.”

Brighten Africa
From left: Boone Christianson, Ashton Murray, Whitney Larson, Brighton Kriser and Jeff Todd — the Brighten Africa team — created the company to help alleviate poverty by providing Ghanaian citizens with data entry jobs and technical training. (Brighten Africa)

Brighten Africa is currently using the web to find various data entry jobs for its employees, but according to BYU student Whitney Larson, another member of the team, the company’s goal is to work with businesses here in Utah to find data entry work.

“We want to let local businesses know that we have this service in Ghana that can get work done for like half the price you are paying someone to do it right now, and it is for a good cause,” Larson said.

Kriser agreed.

“Our goal is to build a pipeline between our company and local Utah and other U.S. companies so that we can reduce wages for the U.S. companies but also provide jobs in the struggling Ghanaian economy,” he said.

Kriser and the rest of the team has big goals for the business and hope to continue to expand in the future.

“My dream would be to provide as many jobs as possible to alleviate poverty and to help people become self-reliant and to also one day provide a resource for those who are physically disabled to have jobs,” Kriser said.

To find out more about Brighten Africa or to get involved visit the website.

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