Comprehensive Business Development Program Will Help Budding Entrepreneurs Turn Good Ideas into Thriving Enterprises
Washington, DC, October 12, 2005 – TechnoServe, a nonprofit organization that supports entrepreneurs in developing countries, announced today that it is the recipient of one of Google Foundation's first grants. The $500,000 award from Google's new philanthropic arm will fund a comprehensive entrepreneur and business development program in Ghana.
The Business Plan Competition (BPC) and Entrepreneurship Development Program, which will be rolled out later this year, will identify entrepreneurial men and women and equip them with the tools and training they need to build competitive, self-sustaining small and medium enterprises. (Today most businesses in Ghana – where about 80 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day – are micro-enterprises or large companies.) The ultimate goal is to accelerate economic growth and reduce poverty in a country that has achieved political and economic stability in the recent past and is now seeking to attain middle-income status.
“Google, one of the great entrepreneurial success stories of our time, clearly recognizes the value of harnessing the entrepreneurial drive of men and women in the developing world to solve the problems of poverty,” says Bruce McNamer, president and CEO of TechnoServe. “The greatest lever for long-term development is helping Africans help themselves, by building businesses that generate the incomes that ultimately sustain social benefits and increase the standard of living.”
The program's centerpiece will be a business plan competition that solicits innovative new business ideas and provides training, mentoring and business development assistance to promising entrepreneurs. At least 300 entrants are expected; of these, 100 will be selected to receive training. Ten winners will receive seed investment money to help launch or expand their businesses. Equally important, winners will receive “aftercare” business development services to ensure that they have the support and tools necessary to turn their business plans into self-sustaining and competitive businesses. Half of Google's grant will be used for the winners' prizes.
The program will tap the high entrepreneurial energy of Ghana's informal economic sector and will especially target youth, women and businesses with links to poorer communities, in sectors such as agri-business, light manufacturing, services, and information technology. It will stimulate private-sector development, employment, productivity and global competitiveness, and catalyze a community of entrepreneurs, organizations, banks, investors, advisors and educators to improve the country's business environment.
“Ghana is a country that is rich in potential,” says Nick Railston-Brown, TechnoServe/Ghana's country director. “There a lot of hard-working people with good ideas. What they lack is the business training and tools to help them succeed, and that is the gap we plan to fill with this program. It will stimulate growth in the small and medium enterprise sector, giving the most promising businesses a leg up and also promoting a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
TechnoServe has a long history in Ghana. TechnoServe founder Edward P. Bullard IV was inspired by his volunteer work at a hospital there. He started TechnoServe in 1968 and established its first program in Ghana. In the last 10 years alone, TechnoServe/Ghana has provided business development services to more than 180 businesses and has facilitated entrepreneurship training and capacity-building programs for more than 200 potential entrepreneurs, resulting in numerous start-ups and business expansions. For example, TechnoServe business advisors helped a fruit and vegetable processing company to identify and exploit its competitive advantages, thus expanding its access to regional markets and increasing its sales of pepper powder, pepper sauce and fruit juices.
The Google-funded program will be modeled on business plan competitions TechnoServe has successfully implemented in Central America and is also rolling out in East Africa. Since debuting in El Salvador in 2002, these competitions have helped hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs to create or expand dozens of businesses. The enterprises that benefited from two such competitions in El Salvador have created more than 700 new jobs and earned more than $7 million in additional revenue last year alone. Each dollar invested in the competitions generated $4 in incremental annual revenue, a figure that is expected to continue rising.
About TechnoServe: TechnoServe helps entrepreneurial men and women in the developing world to build businesses that provide jobs, income and economic opportunity. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or improve more than 1,200 businesses, benefiting more than 3 million people in 22 countries. TechnoServe is currently working to build and expand businesses in Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Ghana, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and Peru. TechnoServe was recognized as one of the world's "10 Most Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs for 2004" by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, founded by the creator of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Web site: http://www.technoserve.org.
For more information, please contact: Luba Vangelova, Director of Marketing Communications, TechnoServe Tel: 202-719-1302; email: [email protected] Nick Railston-Brown, Country Director, TechnoServe/Ghana Tel: + 233-21-763673 (direct office number) or +233 21 773875 (main number) or +233 324 101 (cell) email: [email protected]