Last winter, Crystal Flax ’22 received an invitation from Emmanuela Oppong ’19 to apply to join her nonprofit, Stitching Talents.
Based in Oppong’s native Ghana, the free vocational school teaches orphaned young men and women tailoring, crocheting, knitting, cloth printing and dyeing, shoemaking and other sustainable skills.
Flax was chosen to develop a new Empowering Entrepreneurship course for the school in Egyam. She designed a curriculum and created lesson plans. With encouragement from Oppong, Flax applied to the Kathryn Wasserman Davis Projects for Peace to help fund the course. The organization awarded Oppong a grant in 2018 to support Stitching Talents.
Add Flax’s name to the list of Union students who have won a Davis Projects for Peace award.
Now in its 15th year, the Davis competition is an invitation to undergraduates to design grassroots projects that they will implement during the summer. The objective is to encourage and support students to create and try out their ideas for building peace. Each project is funded with a $10,000 grant.
Flax’s project aims to provide hands-on support to the Ghanaian students, many who lack a consistent formal education, as they pursue an autonomous career for the first time. The literacy levels of the students fluctuate, so teaching methods must be diverse and adaptable.
For two hours a day, Monday through Friday, students will participate in discussions, practice learned material and role-play, and take field trips for the course.
Divided into six parts, the course focuses on computer literacy, personal money management, pre-business goals and finance, post-business development and finance, and self-care. The final week, students, armed with business plans, supplies and budgets, will sell their products from a kiosk in the local market. They can continue to do so for up to two years post-graduation.
A percentage of what the students earn is returned to Stitching Talents to maintain sewing machines and the kiosk.
“Starting a business can be overwhelming and intimidating, and if you lack entrepreneurial knowledge and emotional and monetary support, it can feel impossible to accomplish,” Flax said. Due to the lingering pandemic, she is waiting to hear if she will oversee the course in Ghana or remotely.
“This course will support students as they learn how to run their own business after graduating from Stitching Talents, and will provide them with the skills and confidence they need to succeed.”
Crystal Flax ‘22
Hometown: Bridgewater, N.J.
Major: Political science and French