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28.04.2007 Feature Article

How do people access free skills needed for start up businesses

How do people access free skills needed for start up businesses

How could the ordinary people in Ghana access free basic skills needed for starting up businesses?

In Ghana, most people are in a so called business. However, the definition of business is not clear-cut. For example, many people assume that buying and re-selling is business. How could the Minister for Trade and Industry help bridge the gap and upgrade the skills of people who fall into this category?

The some poor people with no basic business skills but are interested in business end up on our streets as street hawkers, kaya ladies and men etc. Are these the groups who are kicked out from the city centres because were becoming a nuisance? The government have offered them pitches to sell their wares. At the same time would it be fair to say that, this group are reaching out to be noticed and helped by our system? Questions needs to be asked, for example, do they lack the basic skills required moving on in life into starting up business with the growth prospects? The hawkers are all over our cities. Their presence in our cities highlights concerns that their needs to be strategically incorporate their needs into our corporate objectives.

In Ghana most people provide a service but without the business acumen we aware when we see a business opportunity. Most people do a mental SWOT, PEST analysis, however our youths lack the knowledge to captialise on the and use the various strategies to for feasibility studies. Opportunties are passing us all yet poverty is on our door step.

The relevance of business knowledge must not be underestimated and everything should be done in grooming the populace and kick poverty out from our system. This is exactly what Britian curently doing with their youths.

Many high schools in Britain, U.S and Germany run courses, which are paid for mainly by the government to help people on low incomes who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs.

Such programmes cover most of these areas, Defining your project, Making your business idea a reality, Ways to get into business, Forms of business, Self employment, Training and Mentoring, Permits and licences, Developing a business plan, Financing your business, Taxation, Becoming an employer, Other business, locating your business, promoting your business, e-Business, and additional resources.

Howeevr, in Ghana while some people can ready grasp these concepts others would not be able to. Therefore a more basic standard business plan could be introduced to our hawkers with limited reading ability. For example, ways of proper storage ideas, finance techniques, negotiation skills, customer's service skills, health and safety etc, taxation etc. These concepts could all be introduced by visual learning, practical and two way teaching method on once a monthly basis. These initiatives would enable these group to feel that, they also belong to a society, which cares. In order to ensure that the vulnerable benefit from such an exercise, the initiative may need to introduced in all our towns and cities. And promoted on TV, radio, and through our chiefs.

Surely, If Britain and other well-developed countries feel that their future depends on their youths and hence the investment, how much more would such an initiative not be welcomed by our desperate and vulnerable youths. The British Government have invested money for such business start up programmes. Eligible citizen get unemployment benefits, other housing benefits and families with children enjoy free education plus free meals. The challenge for us now, would be to adopt these strategies and run the programmes for our desperate youths. They are leaving Ghana in droves to any country that will have them. On the other hand , what does this kind of trend tell me? It might be a good idea to perhaps plot a graph to clearly see the trend on paper and use it for all the sectors within our country. The alarm bells have been ringing for years.

It is pathetic that up till now, we do not appear to run such programmes for the vulnerable youths and adults who lack business acumen. Is there any strategy in place or in the pipeline within the next year or two? We need something now to kick off such programme to run from 2008.

Work placement is also another area, worth exploring into school curriculum. This idea is currently firmly integrated into institutions and age 15 yrs olds have two to four weeks of taster work placement of their choice paid or unpaid. The students are encouraged to evaluate the placements, which is then used for the assessment of future work placements.

It is about time; our Government and the rest of Africa start emulating the best practice, which the well-developed countries are currently engaged in. This initiative is viable for the growth and development of our country. Do we ever wonder why British youths are making it in life as compared to our youths?
The solid foundation is set when 15yrs have the opportunity to experience work placements.

It might be worth considering setting up a college for those group of people who are school dropouts but currently keen to learn? For example, to study arts and craft, garden designing, interior designing etc.

It might be worth exploring with our various Universities to engage the magasin boys, Katamato street engineers and others to integrate into design technological aspects of their University. The courses could run on amonthly basis where by studies about theoretical aspect of engineering would be taught in their own native language. Could this encourage a wider participation from all our citizens? We need to focus on the needs of the poor and vulnerable more by investing in practical initiatives as discussed. I'm sure the experts among us would expand on this article.

Mercy Adede Bolus
Mercy Adede Bolus, © 2007

This author has authored 172 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: MercyAdedeBolus

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