27.01.2017 Business & Finance

Ghana entrepreneurship ecosystem receives boost with GBT Kick-off

27.01.2017 LISTEN

By Belinda Ayamgha,GNA
Accra, Jan. 27, GNA - Ghana's entrepreneurship ecosystem received a major boost with the start of the 'Growing Business Together,' (GBT); a Dutch funded programme geared toward helping start-ups and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) scale up their businesses.

The two-year programme, implemented by MBC Africa and its Dutch counterpart, Impact Booster, is aimed at equipping young Ghanaian entrepreneurs with the requisite skills, knowledge and outlook to be able to scale their businesses beyond the start-up and small enterprise stage.

Mr. Ron Strikker, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana, speaking at the kick-off event held at the residence in Accra said the GBT programme was a very important part of the Embassy's relations with Ghana, under its 'Growing Together' banner.

The programme, he noted, was important because it was targeted at Ghana's youth entrepreneurs, who were the future of Ghana's development and the backbone of the private sector, which serve as the engine of growth.

He noted that the programme will enable participants to learn from Dutch entrepreneurs in Ghana, who will act as coaches, while they also learn from their Ghanaian counterparts.

Ambassador Strikker, quoting from Steve Jobs, the late Founder of Apple, urged the entrepreneurs to be passionate and driven in their work, as this was required in order to build successful and fulfilling business.

The programme, targeted at start-ups and early stage businesses, will address key hurdles for such businesses including inadequate skills for building and growing businesses, lack of access to appropriate finance and business networks.

The components of the programme include a three-city GBT Caravan, GBT Coaches programme, the GBT Academy and the GBT Startup investment conference to be held in Ghana.

Mr Nelson Amo, Co-Founder of Innohub, who will be partnering with MBC to run the GBT Academy, said the challenge with Startups and SMEs in Ghana as their inability to grow past the SME level into big businesses that can compete, not only on the national level but also the regional, continental and global level.

This, he said, called for a re-orientation of the mind-set of these small business entrepreneurs to enable them see the larger picture.

The coaching program as well as the Academy will help to address this need.

'GBT looks at how to move from SMEs to the next level; how to position these businesses to be able to move from SMEs to bigger businesses,' he stated, adding that the structure of the programme will enable the participating businesses to be investment-ready for the GBT Startup Investment Conference.

Ms. Anna Samake, Chief Executive Officer of MBC Africa, said most SMEs in Ghana were stuck at the small business level due to various reasons, including the entrepreneurs themselves not having a long-term vision for their businesses.

'You have to develop the ability for a long-term vision and plan properly to effectively grow, envision the growth and plan accordingly,' she told the GNA in an interview.

Other challenges, she noted were the lack of the capacity and skills to effectively translate the vision into strategy and execute it to the highest level, and lack of knowledge on the appropriate financing structure for every stage of the business, and these would be addressed by accelerators like the GBT.

'The difference is, we are going to do it in an even more practical way; the right type of financing,' she noted, adding that whilst the project was for two years, the Academy was here to stay and would be fine-tuned based on findings from this first pilot.

Mr. George Duncan, Programme Manager of the GBT Accelerator project added that a five-day programme was being run in the Netherlands to identify Ghanaians living in the Netherlands who have innovative ideas to start a business in Ghana.

'The entrepreneur with winning idea in that round will be sponsored to come to Ghana in September to join the cohort here for the GBT Startup Investment Conference,' he said.

The project, according to him, costs about 200,000 Euros, funded by the Dutch Embassy and also supported in other ways by MBS and Impact Booster.