Golden Baobab’s Deborah Ahenkorah wins the 2015 Grinnell Prize for Social Justice Innovators

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We are very excited to share that Deborah Ahenkorah, Co-founder and Executive Director of Golden Baobab has been honored with the 2015 Grinnell Prize for Social Justice Innovators. Every year, the prestigious Grinnell Prize recognizes two young innovators from around the world who are creating change with a social justice lens and this initiative is the brain-child of Grinnell College, a private liberal arts college in Iowa. It gives a $100,000 cash award to the innovative leader and their organization.  

The prize ceremony took place on Monday, October 26th 2015 at the Herrick Chapel, on the Grinnell College campus and gave a $100,000 cash award to Deborah Ahenkorah, Golden Baobab and its publishing arm, African Bureau for Children’s Stories. “We are highly honored by this prestigious recognition,” says Deborah, “In our field of work it is sometimes hard to connect with people who see your complete vision and fully understand your approach. The Grinnell Prize’s support validates our work, our efforts, our vision and the thought process behind it all.”

The second winner of the prize, Maria Vertkin, is the Creator and Executive Director of Found in Translation, and is also an Echoing Green fellow. Both Maria and Deborah gave incredible speeches upon receiving their awards. 


Click to watch Deborah’s speech: 


Click to watch Maria’s speech: 


Click to watch the Q & A session from both winners:


President Kington of Grinnell College commented, “When I created this program in 2010, my goal was to honor people who are modeling the Grinnellian ideal of learning in the service of social commitment…as the program has matured and thrived, I have come to see that it is also a powerful way to connect our students and community with exceptional social innovators.”

The ceremony culminated in a showing of the prize paintings created by artist Tillly Woodward of the Faulconer Gallery, and commissioned by Grinnell College to commemorate the winners.

Grinnell Prize painting of Golden Baobab created by artist Tillly Woodward  

As part of the prize celebrations, the Falconer Gallery at Grinnell College launched an exhibition of the finalists illustrations from the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators. The installation is featured under the title “Current Styles in African Illustration.” For more on the exhibition kindly visit:

Some of the finalists illustrations from the inaugural Golden Baobab Prize for African Illustrators