The Vocational, Secondary and Tertiary Education Program (VSTEP)


To improve the quality of education offered by vocational, secondary and tertiary institutions in deprived regions of Africa while providing need and merit-based scholarships to talented but underprivileged students.

Program Overview

During the summer of 2005, we launched the NEO scholarship program for underprivileged Junior Secondary School (JSS) graduates in Ghana. Twenty students were selected for the inaugural class. This number will increase as we raise more funds.

See our scholarship Recipients

Our selection process is based on a detailed review of student profiles provided by well-vetted NGOs operating in different regions of the country. Based on our prescribed selection criteria, participating NGOs are invited to nominate a given number of eligible candidates from their respective operating territories. All the nominees from the various regions are then entered into a competitive pool from which our internal selection committee chooses the final scholars. The selected candidates become NEO Scholars for the duration of their secondary or vocational school experience. To ensure that each NGO nominates the most deserving students, we offer a fixed incentive amount per selected student to all participating NGOs. Thus, the only way an NGO gets money from us is if at least one of its nominees is selected as a NEO scholar.


We are committed to developing direct relationships with our scholars, and enriching their educational experiences beyond simply paying their fees. For institutions in deprived areas, we will continue to seek ways to improve the quality of the education provided by our schools. Such assistance may be in the form of incentives to attract qualified teachers and/or provision of additional teaching and learning resources for qualifying institutions.

The VSTEP Value Proposition

According to US Government estimates, more than 40 million primary school age children are out of school in Africa due to lack of resources. Consequently, as the overwhelming majority of Aid organizations and NGOs in Africa focus on increasing access to basic education, another large problem is unavoidably being created: immense pressure on poor parents and underserved communities to support their children through the next stages in the education cycle. Through the VSTEP initiative, we hope to relieve some or all of this strain in our target regions. Our value proposition lies in the following program features:


  1. Holistic approach to nurturing NEO Scholars
    We do not just provide scholarships and leave our students to fend for themselves in the real world. Rather, our package includes the possibility of continued support through university, career development assistance, self-employment for the entrepreneurial-minded, and more importantly, a life-time mentorship support network that includes bankers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, scholars, businessmen, students and others in Africa and abroad. This holistic approach to human capital development is what separates VSTEP from the myriads of youth empowerment programs being offered in Africa today.
  2. Vacation training programs
    Our summer vacation programs will bring all the scholars together for supplemental training in areas not typically covered by the SSS curriculum. These include basic computer training, communication skills, ethics and talent identification seminars. We will also engage the students in community service activities, as part of a reformative agenda to develop future leaders who are committed to making a difference in their communities.
  3. Financial incentives for student selection
    Because the financial incentives awarded to participating NGOs are tied to the number of nominees selected for our program, we are assured of each NGOs best effort to recruit the most deserving candidates. All the NGOs understand that their nominees will be entered into a competitive pool of students from various parts of the country. The more qualified the nominees are, the better their chances of getting selected.

How to Participate

NGOs interested in participating in the VSTEP initiative are encouraged to contact us for more details about the vetting process and partnership requirements. Also, any deprived institutions that need assistance may contact us directly, or through any of our partner NGOs working in their respective areas. Due to our limited resources, all institutions should expect to go through a rigorous screening process.