Buffett undergraduate affiliates select Regina Agyare Honu as the 2017 Buffett Award winner
October 24, 2016
After a nomination and voting process led by the Buffett Institute’s undergraduate affiliates, the 2017 Buffett Award winner is Regina Agyare Honu, a Ghanaian software developer and social activist.
The annual $10,000 Buffett Award recognizes outstanding leadership in a person early in their career working in the areas of global significance. By recognizing excellence early, the Buffett Award encourages individuals to continue to make a difference.
Honu is the founder and CEO of Soronko Solutions, a software development company and social enterprise startup based in Accra, Ghana. She is also the founder of Soronko Foundation, the company’s nonprofit arm, which runs several development programs in West Africa that teach youth how to code and use technology to solve social issues.
The foundation’s largest program, Tech Needs Girls, mentors and trains young girls in coding and technology-related skills. In the three years since the program started, Tech Needs Girls has grown from mentoring 50 to over 2,000 young girls from low-income areas of Ghana. One of their goals is to ensure that these girls can attend university and avoid being forced into early marriage.
Honu (pictured at left with Tech Need Girls participants) is passionate about closing the gender gap in STEM fields by being a role model as well as an educator.
“Women need to see and interact with role models,” she says. “Other women thriving in STEM need to demonstrate that they are not alone and can be successful.”
Another feature of the Buffett Award is that it puts undergraduate affiliates at the center of the process, allowing them to nominate and vote for global leaders who encourage and inspire them in their own endeavors.
Diane Arthur (SESP 2017) nominated Honu for the award last spring. Arthur first learned about Honu while studying abroad last year in Ghana:
“I was mesmerized by Regina's work after hearing her speak at TEDx Accra. She gave a brief presentation during a session entitled Womenomics. Regina stands as a representation of visibility for both women and Africans. She is an individual who has been able to innovate in order to create spaces and opportunities for people who share her gender, ethnicity, and continental identities.
“The work that she is doing has significant impact that has continued to multiply over the years. She is providing fresh access and an important entry point for African women to play a part in the development of technological resources. Her work stands up against years of economic and social oppression in countries that faced colonization, and her work is contributing to the rapid increase in development in countries like Ghana.
“As a first generation Ghanaian-American, I am elated to welcome Regina to campus as she shares a story that will undoubtedly bridge two communities very near to my heart: the youth of Ghana and my peers here at Northwestern.”
As part of her award, Honu will visit Northwestern in to meet with students and campus groups, as well as give the annual Buffett Award lecture. Attend her public address on April 18.
“Once again, our undergraduate Buffett affiliates have made an inspired and inspiring choice, recognizing someone who is truly making a difference in this world. I can't wait to meet her!” says Buffett Institute director Bruce Carruthers.