Hello there, Welcome to another edition of the KA Interviews. Today, we have on our hot seat, a Liberian-American lady with a powerful story and a unique vision to positively impact the people with disabilities in Sub-Saharan Africa.
She is an Occupational Therapist, a disABILITY advocate, the Co-founder and Executive Director of GoTHERAPY, a social enterprise improving people with disabilities access to rehabilitation services in Sub-Saharan Africa.
I am talking about none other than Robin F. Baker.
In this interview, she talks about GoTHERAPY, the inspiration behind it, her vision, challenges and more.
Please join me in welcoming Robin F. Baker to Konnect Africa Interviews.
Tell us about Robin F. Baker – family, ethnicity, education, background…
I am a first-generation Liberian-American. (My parents came to America in the late 80s). I was born in Providence, RI but raised primarily in Bethel, North Carolina. I attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where I received a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2011. I earned a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2013.
You are the Co-founder and Executive Director of GoTHERAPY. Tell us, what is GoTHERAPY all about, when was it founded and what inspired it?
GoTHERAPY is a social enterprise improving people with disabilities access to rehabilitation services in Sub-Saharan Africa. We aim to achieve our mission by empowering people with disabilities, equipping healthcare providers and caregivers and enacting positive and sustainable change.
GoTHERAPY was founded in 2016. My co-founder is Christopher Gaskins, an occupational therapist who is just as passionate about improving the lives of people with disabilities in Africa.
In 2010, I made a promise to my terminally ill Liberian mother. I promised her that I would live a life of service and positively impact the lives of Liberians and West Africans using my Western education and training. She stated, “I won’t be able to go back (to Liberia), but you (me, Robin) must”. For years, I did not understand how, when and what cause would take me to Liberia or West Africa, however, I knew one day my promise would come into fruition.
Fast forward to 2013, I received my “aha moment” during my clinical rotation in Costa Rica during the final year of my occupational therapy program at Howard University. As occupational therapists, we enable people of all ages to engage in meaningful daily activities regardless of injury, illness or disability. Costa Rica was where I realized that people throughout the world are plagued with similar medical conditions, however, access to essential medical services, such as rehabilitation, and is minimum or nonexistent.
I found this to be true in Haiti, Ghana and Liberia. My promise to my mother would reveal my purpose and ignite my desire to improve the lives of people with disabilities and transform the delivery of rehabilitation services in West Africa and around the world.
You have very noble objectives. How do you hope to achieve them?
GoTHERAPY is preparing to roll out our new program, the Stroke Community Re-Integration Program (SCRIP) in Accra, Ghana to provide quality rehabilitation services, such as occupational and physical therapy, within the homes and communities of stroke survivors. To achieve our mission, we collaborate with local communities, hospitals, universities and disability agencies to cultivate sustainable solutions to enhance the quality of life of people with disabilities and their families.
How many people do you currently have on your team?
Currently, we have a small but very effective team of 5.
Can you share with us some of your major achievements since you began this journey?
In the past 18 months, we have had over 200 encounters providing rehabilitation services to children and adults with acute and long term-disabilities in Ghana and Liberia.
Our volunteer rehabilitation professionals have volunteered over 145 hours, valued at over US$10,000 and have trained 20 healthcare professionals in our host countries (Ghana & Liberia) during our rehabilitation service projects. Lastly, we have provided five (5) scholarships through our Social Justice Fund to graduate students.
What would you say is the most important ingredient for the success you have recorded so far?
Our most important ingredient has been our ability to diligently listen to the needs and concerns of our host communities. Often, individuals start nonprofit organizations with the changes and impact “they” have in mind, without truly understanding the needs and concerns of the “everyday people” they are supposed to be serving. We are intentional about collaborating with our host communities and developing customized programs that cater specifically to their needs.
What are some of the challenges you have encountered in running GoTHERAPY and how have you managed them?
I have dealt with many cultural and societal challenges associated with being a woman entrepreneur in Africa. In the healthcare sector, there is an increased number of women healthcare providers, however, leadership is typically male-dominated. Some challenges I have faced include not being treated with respect and not being taken seriously when presenting the vision of GoTHERAPY. To manage this issue, I have spent extensive time mastering my craft and positioning myself as the subject matter expert. Most importantly, I surround myself with people who uplift me constantly and provide reassurance when needed.
What is your vision for GoTHERAPY? Where do you see it 10 years from now?
I envision GoTHERAPY being the force that transforms the delivery of rehabilitation services in Sub-Saharan Africa, so that people with disabilities can lead productive and meaningful lives. In 10 years, I see GoTHERAPY being the leader in the design and delivery of rehabilitation services in low to middle resource countries. I definitely see us expanding our services and impact to different countries throughout Africa, with Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya being countries of interest.
On a personal note, if you had a list of ‘best-kept secrets’ [websites, books, materials] you’d recommend, which would you include and why?
As a woman entrepreneur, I am empowered and encouraged by the journey of women throughout the diaspora breaking barriers in their professions. My best kept secret includes:
She Leads Africa – which is a community that helps young African women achieve our professional dreams by providing us with advice, inspiration and events. SLA has a great community of women who keep me motivated and uplifted on tough days.
I also love Podcasts, so my weekly go-to includes MyTaughtYou by Myleik Teele (of curlBOX),,
Side Hustle Pro by Nicaila Okuome, Super Soul Sundays with Oprah. To keep myself aligned spiritually, I also listen to Elevation Church with Pastor Steven Furtick, OneLA Podcast with Sarah Jacobs Roberts and The Potter’s Touch with TD Jakes.
Most importantly, my best kept secret is my support system who continuously uplifts me and support me no matter where I am in the world.
How important have mentors been in getting you to where you are today? Any mentors? What are their names?
My mentors have played a tremendous role in my success and journey as an entrepreneur. Their knowledge and experience have helped shape and elevate me and my business to new heights.
Some of my mentors include, Rev. Richard Joyner; Dr. Banks; Dr. Jackson to name a few.
For people who are interested in joining and/or supporting your organization, how can they reach you?
For People who are interested in supporting GoTHERAPY they can reach us at gotherapyinc.com or on our social media pages including IG (go.therapy) and facebook. Also to follow my journey they can follow me on IG at OTwiththefro.
What words of wisdom or advice would you like to leave with the youths of Africa? Inspire a young African in a sentence
In the words of Shirley Chisholm, “If they don’t’ give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair”. It’s a mantra that I hold close to me, I’m reminded to continue to push the envelope and actively pursue my dreams regardless.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I truly believe that Africans within the diaspora have the potential to aid in the transformation and growth in Africa. With this in mind, I will be moving to Ghana (From Maryland, USA) in May to roll out GoTHERAPY’s SCRIP program, which I believe will significantly impact the lives of stroke survivors and serve as a model for community based rehabilitation services for people with disabilities in Ghana and throughout West Africa. Although, I know I will be faced with challenges during my transition, I believe the potential and opportunities for growth will be well worth it!
Thank you for sharing with us, Robin
You are welcome