Pay it Forward: Foundation gives young African immigrants new opportunities.

(KUTV) It can be difficult for refugees and immigrants to get used to the American culture.

The GK Folks Foundation provides education, business, and mental health help for young African immigrants and refugees in Utah, Idaho, Arizona and Nevada.

Once a month they host a mental health session to talk about issues going on right now.

“The goal is just to bring people of all Black, Indigenous, and people of color together to create that safe space for them to discus,” said Gloria Mensah, executive director for GK Folks Foundation.

In 2021, they will be launching an entrepreneurship program for young immigrants to pitch business ideas to potential investors and get important resources.

Right now, the foundation’s biggest event is the Miss Africa Utah scholarship pageant, which is in its tenth year.

“We have empowered over 150 African women and awarded scholarships of over $40,000,” Mensah said.

As part of the program, young women represent different African countries and showcase their cultures and passions.

They attend workshops on public speaking, interview skills, physical exercise, and healthy living before the big event.

The current Miss Africa Utah is Fatoumatta Barrow, who represents Gambia.

“Gambia is the smallest country in mainland Africa,” said Barrow.

She is using her scholarship to help people in her country.

“My main goal is to break barriers to education,” she said.

She is grateful to have the opportunity to represent her country authentically.

“There’s so much inclusiveness and representation,” Barrow said.

Embracing this diversity and taking the time to learn about each other is what Mensah hopes to bring to the table with the foundation.

“When you understand where people are coming from, what they eat, what they like, their culture–it tends to create unity and peace together,” she said.

Funding for their programs and scholarships comes from donations and community support.

Mountain America Credit Union donated $500 to the GK Folks Foundation.

The next mental health session is on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

The pageant will be shown online over a few episodes in August.

Letter from the Executive Director

A Letter from the Executive Director

A Letter from the Executive Director
Welcome to GK Folks Foundation. Words cannot fully express my gratitude for your interest in, and your support for the mission of the GK Folks Foundation. Over the years, I had the opportunity to work with youth, families, and, various African communities supporting them with strategic directions/action plans to address a plethora of challenges.

I am fueled each day because I struggled as an international student when I came to America. For several years, I could not look into the eyes of anyone, whether they were a stranger, acquaintance, or even my colleagues at school/work.

Also, I could not speak in public and as a result held myself back from fully exploring my potential and sharing my talents. I can recall when I finally had the courage to step out of my fears, how disheartening it felt to be ridiculed because of my accent. Surrounded by other Africans, and seeing that I was not alone in this cultural dilemma, I wanted to do something – I wanted to serve. Hence the birth of the Foundation.

I am glad that through the GK Folks Foundation, not only can we instill in young Africans the necessary skills needed to be successful in America, but we can also promote diversity and Africa’s cultural heritage. I am especially honored to lead a foundation committed to empower and support youth to become a catalyst for change and give back to the motherland.

We would not be here today without the generous donations of time, resources, knowledge, and funds from change agents like you. I encourage you to continue supporting our cause by learning more about what we do. You can support African youth by merely increasing your awareness of the diverse African cultures.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Margaret Mead: ”Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

Together, we can continue changing the world by fueling young change agents and armoring them with the tools they need to succeed within the communities, here and in Africa.

Gloria Mensah

Want to help Africa? Do business in Africa

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We know the negative images of Africa — famine and disease, conflict, and corruption. But, says Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, there’s another, less-told story happening in many African nations: one of reform, economic growth, and business opportunity.

This talk was presented at an official TED conference and was featured by our editors on the home page.

Africa Doesn’t Need More Development Aid, It Needs More Capitalism

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Rainer Zitelmann

In 1990, the UN made a commitment to reduce global poverty by 50% within 25 years. That this ambitious goal has been achieved is largely due to China’s success. Within the same period, the percentage of the population living below the poverty line decreased from 56.8% to 42.7% across the continent of Africa. However, with 20% of Africans living under the specter of starvation – a higher percentage than anywhere else in the world – there is still a long way to go.

And the situation has not improved in recent years. In fact, it has deteriorated—especially in Africa. “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World” report for 2019 was jointly published by several UN organizations and confirms a rise in world hunger for the third year in a row. It is now estimated that there are 821 million chronically undernourished people in the world. In the period up to 2015, this number had been in decline. It has now climbed back to levels last seen in 2011.

Compared to 2017, the proportion of malnourished people (20%) has increased in almost all regions of Africa. The worst-hit regions are East Africa, where almost 31% of the population suffer from malnutrition, and Central Africa, where the figure is 26.5%.