At Stukent, we’re always looking for ways to help educators help students help the world. In 2018, Stukent gave scholarships to 10 Beninese students to attend the VELI Institute, or the van Duyse Entrepreneurial Leadership Institute. The VELI Institute is a training center, micro-financing center, and business incubator in sub-Saharan Africa.
One of the students who received a Stukent scholarship was Clarisse Sohouenou, a young entrepreneur who wanted to start Children Educ, a non-governmental organization (NGO) aimed at improving the lives of children in Benin. Stukent’s CEO and founder, Stuart Draper, met Clarisse during a pitch meeting and loved her idea.
“Clarisse is literally changing the world, one student at a time,” Draper said. “Stukent gave her a scholarship that provided the education she needed to start her organization, and now Stukent is able to fund her organization to provide education to African children.”
Draper continued, “Watching Clarisse fulfill her mission with Children Educ inspires me to keep fulfilling our mission here at Stukent to help educators help students help the world.”
Since then, Stukent has donated tens of thousands to Children Educ, and 2022 will be no different. This year, Stukent has already donated $6,000 to the NGO, allowing Clarisse to hire six new teachers, feed the children for the duration of the school year, and provide educational materials, too.
Recently, Stukent interviewed Clarisse to learn a little more about her and the life-changing work she does at Children Educ.
1. Tell us about yourself, Clarisse!
My name is Clarisse Sohouenou. I’m Beninese, born to a father who was a farmer and a mother who was a housewife. I am Children Educ-Benin’s promoter.
2. Why is education important to you? Why is it important to your community?
For me, education is very important. It not only gives students an open mind but also guarantees them a better future. If I had not been to school, I would be working on the village farm. As soon as I could start school, my father became very sick. My odds of going to school were low.
My aunt enrolled me in school. She did not have the means, but she accepted the challenge. I spent three years with my aunt, then six years with my older sister.
After that, I returned to my parents and helped my father in the fields each vacation. We barely managed to pay my school fees. By the grace of God, I managed to continue my studies at the university.
3. How did your time at the VELI Institute shape the way you run your NGO?
While I was at the university, I started a small business. In my third year on campus, I discovered the VELI Institute, which really changed my mentality — I started to believe I could get the life I wanted.
4. Why did you start Children Educ in 2018?
I really wanted to help children in challenging situations, because I know it is really difficult when you are a child and facing poverty.
5. What is Children Educ’s mission?
Children Educ is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to help children living in rural areas to have access to their rights to education without any discrimination of race, religion, ethnicity, and social class. These are children who want to study but lack the financial means [and] don’t have any other choice than to go to the farm with their parents.
We help our students by offering school kits (everything they need to finish the school year), lunch costs … and also food [for] their parents. We also deal with school uniforms. At Christmas, we give them new clothes, toys, and meals, as well as other foodstuffs to diversify their diet.
6. How have Stukent’s donations helped you help your students?
In 2019, I had the opportunity to present my idea for Children Educ to Stu Draper, the founder and CEO of Stukent. He expressed his desire to help us. Stukent’s donations have been very helpful — they have allowed us to provide thousands of meals, recruit teachers for schools, and provide clothing for hundreds of children at Christmas.
7. Stukent’s nine core values are Consistency, Dependability, Good Humor, Gratitude, Growth, Honesty, Humility, Positivity, and Winning. Which one of these values is most important to you, and how do you strive to live it?
Gratitude and Positivity. Stukent, I don’t have the words to thank you, but please accept my gratitude. We remain positive and hope for the success of the NGO and the children!
8. Where do you hope Children Educ will be in five years?
My biggest dream is to see all of these children obtain their primary school certificates and become examples to others in their communities.
At Stukent, we are so grateful for all the amazing work that Clarisse does on behalf of students in Benin! She is truly helping Stukent fulfill its mission to help educators help students help the world.
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