A team of students from Regent University College of Science and Technology have emerged 2nd runners-up in the third edition of the Presidential Pitch Competition, and have been awarded seed capital of GH¢50,000.
The Presidential Pitch is a business idea competition designed and organised by the Ministry of Business Development of the government of Ghana, in partnership with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
The competition targets Ghanaian youth between the age of 18 to 35, and seeks to curb the unemployment rate in Ghana by supporting young entrepreneurs with funding to boost their businesses for job creation.
Pitching the business idea of an organic weedicide product named ‘Verdant’, the Regent team comprised of Cornelius Nyonator, Management with Computing, Level 300; Mohammed Tijani, BSc, Computer Science, Level 200; Theresah Quartey, Level 400, Human Development and Psychology; and Derrick Ofori, Management with Computing, Level 100.
Participants in the Presidential Pitch competition were shortlisted from over 500 applications from across Ghana, outlining various business proposals. 23 teams were shortlisted from these applications. Shortlisted start-up businesses were selected and assessed based on their innovativeness, feasibility, impact and scalability.
In the first round of the competition, the Regent team (Team Verdant), pitched its idea to a panel of judges at the Ministry of Business Development, qualifying as a top-10 finalist. After three rounds of business idea pitching, the team was selected as a top-5 finalist, emerging second runner-up, at the grand finale. Present to grace the grand finale which took place at Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel was President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo.
Speaking on the genesis of the Verdant idea, Cornelius had this to say: “As a team, we all shared a common concern about the negative impact of climate change caused by the use harmful chemicals in everyday products.
“We thought about how we could make a difference with action instead of talking or protesting about how major corporations are poisoning the environment with chemicals,” he added. “Verdant is an organic weedicide product that helps control weed populations before planting and also provides a better alternative to the harmful effects of inorganic weedicides,” Cornelius said.
“We believe we have developed a sustainable alternative solution that will help farmers control weeds in an environmentally friendly way, and reduce harvesting cost.”
In his opening address at the grand finale, Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal shared information on the impact from previous editions of the competition. “Under seasons one and two, 460 jobs were created by the 20 people we supported; we gave them the money, they had the ideas and implemented them, and that created jobs. Ghana is largely a youthful country with over 60% of the people being below 30 years; the president wants to build confidence in the youth to be business owners.”
The Presidential Pitch competition is in line with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of assisting young entrepreneurs to incubate their business ideas and improve livelihoods.
In his speech at the competition, President Akufo Addo expressed confidence in the entrepreneurial abilities of youth. “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,” President Akufo Addo said.
The president revealed that, currently, there are 36,000 young entrepreneurs being trained through 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 an opportunity to tap into the GH¢1million set aside as business support from the Ministry of Business Development.
Cornelius, the leader of the Verdant team, was appreciative of the organisers for their recognition and support. “We are thankful to the Ministry of Business Development for this initiative, and for going beyond words to encourage and support youth entreneurship and taking a chance on us.
“We are also grateful to the president for going the extra mile to support youth-driven initiatives geared toward job creation. We are also grateful to the students and staff of Regent University, where we first tested this product, for their encouragement and feedback. We thank God for bringing us this far.”