Founder of SheaCoal Zoyanna Ent, Douglas Akoglo, has been crowned winner of the third edition of the Presidential Pitch organised by the Business Development Ministry in partnership with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
His initiative, which is aimed at converting Shea nut residue into charcoal, won the grand prize of GH¢70,000 with an additional support of GH¢30,000 from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
His initiative, Shea Coal Zoyanna, also seeks to produce 1 Megawatt of power after production.
In an interview, Mr. Douglas Akoglo – from the Upper East Region of the Bongo District – noted that: “Winning this award means being able to bring my idea into fruition and helping a lot of women in Northern Ghana better their lives. Without this money, I wouldn’t be able to bring my product to market and realise my dream”.
In all, 10 contestants were selected for the final stage of the competition.
They are Abubakar Salih of Edeodo; Michael Atamakira of Project Wastek Justice Amanda of Geeks and Clicks; Abdul Gagarin Amin of Imperishable; Cornelius Nyobator of Verdant; Ahiatrogah Norkplim of DELA Technologies; Irene Atawobe of SheaMe; Douglas Akoglo of SheaCoal Zoyanna Ent; Theophilus Dumenyo of Anquito; and Kendell Elizabeth Mantey of Lednek Beverages, which produces Soycaff. Theophilus Dumenyo of Anquito, a mosquito repelling device, and Cornelius Nyobator of Verdant, an organic weedicide, took second and third place, and walked away with GH¢60,000 and GH¢50,000 respectively. The fourth place walked away with GH¢40,000 while winners from the 5th to 10th position walked away with GH¢30,000 each.
In his opening address, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, Business Development Minister, noted that despite the pandemic business confidence is still high. He advised the contestants to consider themselves as global entrepreneurs in order to produce products that meet both local and international standards. He noted that President Akufo-Addo is determined to create an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs to thrive and enables job creators.
Present to grace the occasion was President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, who noted that government believes entrepreneurship is a vital component of economic growth and development. He said youth entrepreneurship is the appropriate tool to address the challenges of our time.
President Akufo-Addo revealed that seasons one and two of the Presidential Pitch created 460 jobs across the country, especially in the rural areas. “Our young men and women can be a positive source of development when provided with the knowledge and skills they need to contribute in the growth and development of the country,” he said.
The president again revealed that, currently, there are 36,000 young entrepreneurs being trained under the Presidential Business Support Programme (PBSP) under the NEIP, to build their capacity and enhance their competitiveness.
The third window of the Presidential Pitch gave entrepreneurs opportunity to tap into the GH¢1million set aside as business support from the Ministry of Business Development.
The Presidential Pitch offers young entrepreneurs an opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a panel of experienced judges, out of which 10 are selected as winners and awarded funds to support their businesses.
In addition to the money, the selected individuals are given business advisory support on how to use the money in terms of marketing, branding, access to finance, and social capital to make sure that they are well prepared.
Giving an update on winners from the first and second windows, Dr. Awal said Aisha Limann – winner of the first window – has introduced new products and set up a factory awaiting inauguration.
Meanwhile, Matilda Asantewaa Sarpong and Emily Otoo Quayeson – winners of the second window – are working assiduously with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to produce quality sanitary-pads for commercial purposes.