Meet George Duncan, an agent of change
On a bright Tuesday morning, I found myself in one of Accra’s most serene neighborhoods, Mannet Court, off the Spintex road. My mission was to meet an agent of change and a man who has dedicated himself to empower the younger generation as his contribution to the human capital development of the country.
A known successful entrepreneur and business consultant and born in Ghana in the year 1961, George Duncan is a professional with a passion for social intervention initiatives targeted at young and under privileged persons in society. He has lived the majority of his life around the world opening him up to several cultures. Currently, he splits his time between Ghana and the Netherlands, where he has been living for almost three decades.
He is the founder and director of the Sankofa Foundation, an organization which he established in The Hague. Sankofa Foundation is a diaspora organization engaged in sustainable development projects in Ghana and the promotion of African culture in the Netherlands. George also organizes the annual “The Hague African Festival” for the last eight years and has been very instrumental in the establishment of the Diaspora Business Centre Ghana in the Netherlands, an initiative of African diaspora organizations to generate investment opportunities in their countries of origin.
George Duncan is a trained Information Technology (IT) specialist, specifically, a Microsoft Certified Engineer and has worked with several prominent Dutch telecommunications companies over the years. Whilst at his technological adventures, he was engaged in several entrepreneurial activities and ventured into multiple business in both the Netherlands and Ghana.
In addition, he was actively involved with Emerging Markets Africa (EMAS) as a freelance consultant, responsible for creating and following up leads for new and innovative business and investment opportunities in Ghana. With his excellent command of English, Dutch and local Ghanaian languages (Twi, Fanti and Ga), George sought to add value to himself and took the challenge to write the mandatory examination to become a sworn translator in Ghanaian native languages to Dutch and vice versa. This landed him a job with the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands.
George is a totally creative brain. He is a book author and the brain behind the short film “Aburokyire”, also referred to as “Behind the Cornfield”. “Aburokyire” is a documentary on the social impact of migration within the Ghanaian diaspora community in the Netherlands. The project was supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation.
This is the pedigree of the man I had driven a little over an hour to meet to tap into his knowledge on business development and also discuss yet another important initiative he has been heavily involved in. After narrating his journey from Ghana to Nigeria then Spain before finally settling in the Netherlands, it was time to discuss Growing Business Together (GBT).
Judging by his facial expression, it wasn’t difficult to realize how passionate George was discussing GBT. “GBT is an initiative funded by the Dutch government and seeks to support early stage entrepreneurs. GBT is a two-year program which aims at promoting entrepreneurship among the Ghanaian community in the Netherlands and young entrepreneurs in Ghana, offering an opportunity for these entrepreneurs to gain extensive knowledge and skills in building their business, gaining access to finance and coaching from experienced Ghanaian and Dutch entrepreneurs”, he said.
Currently, George is the overall Program Manager for Growing Business Together in both the Netherlands and Ghana. A co-author of the book Migration & Entrepreneurship - The Dynamics of Creating Your Winning Business in the Home Country, he is responsible for the overall management, promotion, recruitment or selection and the successful execution of the program.
“The key components of this initiative include a nine-month GBT Academy, the GBT Coaches Program and the GBT Startup Investment Conference. There is a parallel project for Ghanaians in Netherlands who seek to start businesses in Ghana. At the end of it all, it is expected that these young entrepreneurs will be adequately equipped to pitch their amazing business plans and proposals to investors, key stakeholders and captains of various sectors from both Ghana and the Netherlands”, he added.
George emphasized on the importance of initiatives such as Growing Business Together in African economies where access to funding for small and medium scale businesses is always challenging. “In this part of the world, funding is a major issue for smaller businesses not to talk about young entrepreneurs who are now starting their businesses. They might have the best of ideas but will not be in the position to secure funding for their business ideas. It is a rather sad situation and I think that highlights the essence of such a project which will enable young people achieve their dreams of owning and running businesses”, he added.
Deadline for submission of application by all interested persons is Friday 24th February 2017, and George is optimistic about the opportunities that awaits all successful applicants selected to participate in Growing Business Together project.