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Coming to America: Making a Change

Coming to America: Making a Change

Kwame Frempong
Alumnus of Central Michigan University
Interviewed by Rachel Arner

 

 

Where are you from?

I was born in a village called Sekyeredumasi, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.

 

What was it like growing up in Ghana?

Ghana is a great place. It is very peaceful and also full of history. It is a poor country, but I never fully understood what it meant to be “poor” until I traveled outside the country and then returned eight years later. It was this experience of travelling outside the country that really opened my eyes. I decided I wanted to make a difference for people who suffered financially. So I created a business that works towards creating more jobs in Ghana. I believe we all have the power to do more than we might think is possible. We can all change the world. It is just a matter of applying ourselves to people that need our help.

 

Did you go to college? If so, where and what did you study?

I studied Political Science at Andrews University but I transferred to CMU at the beginning of my senior year.

 

What was your favorite thing about attending AU?

Andrews University transformed my way of thinking. The university taught me the importance of service. Now I know better that life has little to do with what I accomplish for myself. Instead, life has everything to do with what I am able to accomplish for the sake of others.

 

Why did you study Political Science?

I initially wanted to study law, even going so far as to take the LSAT, but I soon realized that it wasn’t my calling. I am naturally a businessman, and it comes easily for me. I love solving problems and as an entrepreneur/StartUp consultant, that is all I do.

 

What do you like to do in your free time? Do you work on your business 24/7?

Between running an international business, helping people set up businesses, being the host of a popular Ghanaian radio show and being a family man, I don't get a lot of time to “play.” However, when I do, I play racquetball, I read often and I play soccer.

 

Wow, you're a radio host? That’s so cool! What is that like? What do you talk about on the show?

I host a political show. I love politics and I grew up around several politicians. Good politics almost becomes a religious lifestyle, and it is an avenue in which one can change people's lives. Unfortunately, today's politics have become more about personal agendas than pursuing the general good of people, but there is still hope. Good people need to get back into politics (or at least advocate) so that we can actually be successful in the best way possible.
 


Tell us about the program you are doing.

We are in the process of trying to join forces with the city and other groups within Benton Harbor to help people become homeowners.   

 

Does that mean you’re trying to help people who might be renting to be able to purchase the home?

Yes, our commitment to the residents of the city is to ensure that everybody who qualifies to own a home, gets that privilege. I believe this is one of the most effective ways to build wealth. This is one of the most important investments most people make in their lives. As employees of this business we are doing everything we can do to help.  Right now, we are really just looking for the opportunity to give back.

 

How did the program get started?

Business does not always have to be about maximizing profits and minimizing losses. Business can and should be used to solve the world's most basic problems. After I found out about the housing disparity in Benton Harbor, it became an obsession of mine to try and help solve it. Upon further research, I found out there were many people who actually qualified for mortgages, but were either facing some level of lending discrimination or being intimidated by the process. Some of these people are actually paying more in rent than they will paying for mortgage. This is something we want to change. Details of the plan are to use one of our company’s subsidiaries known as “ABN Financial Services” to get people through the path from applying for a mortgage to after the purchase. We will also help with other details once the purchase is complete. This will include credit rehabs, assistance with loan application, making decisions about interest rate, and more. Our goal is to help as many people as possible move into their own homes.

 

For students studying business here at AU, do you think they should focus on helping the world’s basic problems? What might that look like for them?

Yes! Andrews University gives its students something they can’t get from many other places. You can go to Yale and get a certificate in nursing or any other major you can think of. You can get those same degrees here. But Andrews University’s certificates have added value. Andrews University teaches its students the importance of service. During my freshmen year, I took a class that changed my perspective on life. My father is a public servant, and he worked for the greater good all the time. He taught me the importance of public service without saying much, because I saw how he lived. I took a class called Philosophy of Service, and it changed my life. It was such a blessing.  My professor, Dr. Matthews, helped me understand that my value was not dependent on the certificates or the paychecks or the cars, but rather in the true value of what you do for others. This experience opened my eyes even more to the kind of person my father was. All I am saying is that this campus teaches so many lessons you cannot get anywhere else. You just have to be willing to allow yourself to learn.

 

Is there anything students can do while in college to help others?

Of course! Even if you don’t have money or other things to donate, you can always become an advocate. It can get somewhat discouraging when I see students go about their business as if all their classmates are doing perfectly well. A more recent example of this would be the DACA beneficiaries on Andrews University campus. Get involved. Be their advocate. There are so many economic and other injustices all around us. If we don’t help, who will? In the past, students have been able to bring dictators down, and they have been able to help in different civil rights movements. Students have been a great force in the past. I am very sure they can remain a powerful force today as well.

 

What inspires you to continue helping people who are being taken advantage of?

Well, someone helped me get to where I am today. There are so many people in my life who have come at just the right time. Now it’s my time to help others in the same way others have helped me. God has blessed me with several good advisors. My grandparents were missionaries, my parents were great public servants and my uncle Seth Amponsah (who is an Andrews alumnus) made it a point to always teach me the importance of public service. Andrews University is filled with people who are always willing to help. One such blessing was Dr. Sabes who was my academic advisor. I can say that she had the greatest impact on my life among my parents of course. Lastly, I married a woman who has made it her duty to remind me every single day off my responsibility to society.

 

What do you plan to do in the future?

We have other goals in the community of Benton Harbor. For example, we wanted to donate a substantial amount of resources to a high school for youth development. We set a goal to ensure that every kid who graduated from the high school understood taxes and could file their own taxes.

 

It’s #MenToo

It’s #MenToo

The Andrews Experience: Looking Back

The Andrews Experience: Looking Back