Primrose Adjepong ‘12 is Fighting for West Africa’s Young Women in Public Policy

Ghanaian alumna  Primrose Adjepong ’12 has always been a solution builder. After graduating from ALA, and before pursuing her public policy program at Oxford, she had the opportunity to commit time to her business, the Butterfly Effect, which refers to the hypothesis about the compounding effects of very small changes in a system. She was able to scale it up after just one year.

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Now, as the Senior Policy Associate for the research institute Jameel Abdul Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) she and her team are focused on assisting West African governments to apply evidence-based approaches to boost girls’ education enrollment and learning in the region.

“Pursuing a degree in Public Policy was the beginning of my commitment to policy work,” Primrose says. “Nevertheless, my experiences in the world of work since then influenced how I thought about ‘Butterfly Effect’ and how it can grow. Specifically, I have further understood the importance of generating evidence to prove the impact of your business, and I have gained the skills to be able to do this more effectively with the Butterfly Effect.”

During her public policy Master’s program at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University, she developed the practical ability to perform the job through her relentless pursuit of skills. Right from university, Primrose had been exploring different experiences, “I think what I took away from university were transferable skills…because what I do now has nothing to do with my degree.”

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Businessman and philanthropist, Dr Mo Ibrahim, in conversation with Primrose Adjepong.

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Primose with her Oxford Africa team members, Prosper Ahmed Amuquandoh and Anupah Makoond.

Primrose was Co-Chair for the 2019 Oxford Africa Conference, an interdisciplinary platform for discussions relevant to contemporary African issues, including politics, economics, and culture. Image Credits: https://oxforduniversityafricasociety.com/

For her, skill-building is an issue of knowing yourself and what you like. “It is being led from within and not necessarily from outside.”

Primrose served as a behavioural scientist with a Beirut-based NGO working with local communities on access to education, health services and water, as well as developing programmes to improve good governance. She has also worked with communities in Senegal and Gambia to eradicate female genital mutilation, and with refugee communities in Hong Kong to increase their access to emotional support.

Primrose is interested in building a multifaceted solutions toolbox that can be applied across different fields including health and education. “I’d like to specialize in something that is transferable across fields.’’

She sees the likely projection of her career to include working for an organization whose activities and missions relate to different fields rather than working for an organization with a specific and limited outlook.

Primrose has begun another journey at J-PAL, with a team researching and testing data-led poverty-reduction policies, especially aimed at young women in West Africa. She is challenging policy-makers to think expansively about education, especially in light of the disruptions that have taken place because of COVID-19. “For our startup (Butterfly Effect), one of our core values is the fact that anything can be a learning experience. It’s just having that conscious mind shift. You don’t need to be in the classroom to be educated.”

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It is only apt to celebrate Primrose this month, as we host Sector Gatherings, which offer unique learning and networking opportunities for sector professionals, policy makers, leading experts and influencers who value innovation, youth empowerment, and business growth on the continent.

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