My Journey as Founder of Grain de Sel Togo: From Receiver to Giver Our quest to support the education of needy students in Togo continues with Grain de Sel Togo Grain de Sel Togo (GDS) is a Georgian 501c3 organization I initiated with a group of Togolese Fulbright Scholars. The Fulbright Program has been the Foundational inspiration leading to the creation of GDS in Athens, GA, and now established in Togo and in France. I came to the US under the Fulbright Program and I didn’t realize how sufficient my Fulbright stipend was until I became a Teaching Assistant and fully responsible for my tuition payment. Without the help of some of my friends, I would not be able to make it to where I am today. Being ever grateful to my friends, my host university and to the Fulbright Program, I decided to take action. Thus in July 2013, with the assistance of four other Togo Fulbright grantees, I founded and launched Grain de Sel Togo. At the beginning, we planned to assist only one student per year, but surprisingly 17 students have been supported in 3 years. It is now clear that this is not just about us, but the whole world. At GDS, we are dedicated to helping ambitious and talented, but underprivileged students in African public universities through scholarships and coaching. In the 3 years, and thanks to the support of generous people, GDS has been able to: 17 scholarships (full tuition and monthly stipends) • Organize 2 career development workshops in Lomé, Togo (West Africa), with the participation of more than 300 students • Contribute to the admission of 3 Master students in France • Subsidize more than 25 new laptops and other electronic devises to those students, in partnership with BSBIZTOGO • Create & launch an online teaching platform to help laureates learn more & familiarize themselves with online learning tools • Assist many scholars to settle in US academic institutions
C'est vraiment incroyable qu'une petite idée entre amis soit devenue une organisation internationale. De petites choses devenues de grandes choses.
Je viens me joindre à ma famille pour remercier cette communauté de Grain de Sel Togo, Inc. pour la leçon d'humanisme et surtout pour votre soutien et présence aux obsèques de notre feu.
Vous faites plus et au delà la fierté du Togo.
Merci à la représentation de Grain de Sel Togo Inc en France, au Togo et aux USA. Merci pour tout.
Thanks to Mr. Brad K. Hounkpati’s leadership and guidance from his team, we have just completed the tour of Prefecture des Lacs, meeting with Principals, Directors, Superintendent, etc. All these people have worked with the Director of Grain de Sel Togo, Inc. in the past. We feel like we are walking in Mr Brad’s footpaths. Wow, we did not know that the founder of #GDSTOGO is well-known by almost everyone we met. We were so happy that most of them testified that Brad Hounkpati has been one of their best students and camarades while he was at CEG Anfoina and Lycée Aného and even at the University of Lome. It is fair to say that Grain de Sel Togo, Inc is like “spider web” because it has established connection for us, making our job easier. We did learn a lot, meet new people and create new contacts. We now understand what M. Brad K Hounkpati used to say: “learning to decode the secret of public administration is one of the keys to successful development programs”. Bureaucracy does exist, but we have learnt to overcome its challenges thanks to Grain de Sel Togo, Inc. and its leaders. We conclude our tour today in Mr. Brad’s own terms: “a word to the wise is enough”.
When my husband started this idea of Grain de Sel Togo Inc back in 2012, I thought it would not work.
Here we are in 2018, with more than 5 years of service to the needy students in Africa, in France. When he decided to officially incorporate the organization with the assistance of then four Fulbright Students from Togo, the same ones he assisted with their settle-in issues and other needs while they just moved to the US.
One thing that is amazing is his incredible ability to solve problems for other people throughout the US, France, Africa, just from his computer or phone, building a strong network.
Even though, I am not one of his mentees, or students, I was amazed by support of the small world he created. In fact, when my father passed away in Togo, the community of Grain de Sel Togo, Inc stood up as one single to provide us with their support in these difficult moments. It was by far beyond my expectations and the ones of our family. In addition to their support, they arranged for a delegation to attend my father's funeral in Togo.
I now see Grain de Sel Togo, Inc as my "family" and I am very proud of my husband. I remember that night when he was drafting the proposal for Grain de Sel scholarship. He could not sleep and here we are.
To you all at Grain de Sel Togo, Inc., past and current associates, I come here to express my gratitude to you, for your support and for trusting your mentor.
As always, I will be here to support your work with the least I have.
Having the opportunity to work with GDS has been part of best choices I did. Indeed, I got the right platform here to positively impact the education of Togo students, provide assistance in their personal lives as well as I their professional one, and beyond this, GDS gave me the opportunity to engage students in project management and community service, a way of encouraging them to become young role models in their communities and good citizens at large. In the process, GDS allowed me to acquire professional and interpersonal skillsets and strengthen my leadership. With GDS, we help improve lives of others and ours is indirectly.
AGRAIN DE SEL TOGO has helped in housing, banking and transport matters right from arrival in US as a Fulbrighter. It is has been establishing socio-economic and cultural bridge between US, Togo and other African countries. They are trustworthy and highly recommendable.
At Grain de Sel Togo, Inc., we support needy students in public universities in Africa through scholarship, coaching, academic and technical support. When Mr. Brad Hounkpati approached me with his proposal to create this organization, I doubt about it and asked him “are you sure”? But after few months, he came back to me that four other Fulbright scholars from his country Togo have accepted to join him and they have created and launched the scholarship program.
Knowing him, for his commitment and his unending willingness to assist others, I have changed my mind and later joined his team as board of Directors. In 2015, I attended the second anniversary in Athens. I heard stories about how hard access to high education is in Togo with all the complexity of the new LMD University system (Bachelor, Master, and PhD), the struggle of needy students, etc. These stories had truly transformational impact on me and I decided to do more to support the team and the students. Almost, every Sunday, I check with Mr. Brad about how we are doing financially and what are the urgent needs? He has only one response: all is being taking care (which means, we are in good shape). What is amazing about our organization is the fact that it’s being led by people who went through the same situation, and who are dedicated to do their very best to serve their fellows back home.
After working with these talented fellows, eating African and Togo food, my family and I feel like if not more than Togolese and we are so grateful and proud to work with this organization. God willing, we will do our very best to support our staff so that we can do more.
25 scholarship awarded, 55 computers delivered, career development workshops, academic counseling, online teaching, etc. would not have been possible without the support of people like you: special to our donors and our representative team in Togo.
As the CEO of the organization, I wish to take this opportunity to thank:
- Our donors and supporters;
Fulbright Program officials and IIE for the opportunity they gave to the founders of our organization,
- Togolese of Charlotte community and friends for helping for their supports.
- Fulbright Georgia Chapter for their continued support, and guidance.
- Our chair, the all-season man, Mr. Brad K. Hounkpati for guiding the program, wisdom, dedication and outstanding leadership.
Proud to serve with you all.
It is doing well by helping people. To improve, they need more people who can devote their time to help.
In 2014, I came to the USA for my Postdoc program. I was amazed by how the founder dedicated himself to assist me and my family during our stay. Promoting academic excellence among young people in Africa (Togo) through Grain de Sel Togo Inc. can make a difference. You can donate the least you can. The amount does not matter but the motivation. Start today. Thank you .
The best way to create opportunities for a better future is to care about those around you. This is exactly one of the many opportunities GDS creates to the young bright leaders of the years to come in Togo. Please, join and bring your contribution to the development of Africa. TT
What I like about Grain de Sel Togo, Inc. is that it was created by dynamic group of former scholars who understand the needs of needy students and want to help them. By far, this is the first initiative by African Fulbright Scholars, willing to promote education, giving back to their community and encourage others to do even more.
Thank you for your kind words of support.