The Danish Foreign Minister, Anders Samuelsen, has engaged a group of young entrepreneurs in Ghana at the Institute of Economic Affairs in Accra.
The meeting, which was attended by the minister and officials from the Danish Embassy in Ghana, sought to create a platform for promising young entrepreneurs to share knowledge on the prospects and challenges of entrepreneurship in Ghana.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Samuelsen stated that it was inspiring to meet promising young entrepreneurs with great spirits to change things around them, as well as to create businesses that meet the needs of society.
“The future belongs to you. You are your country’s young population and entrepreneurship is in you. Entrepreneurship creates unique opportunities to create something special that can lead to economic growth, job-creation and solve problems of your country. You are those creating the future. It takes a lot of resilience,” he said.
He also noted that Ghana’s quest to develop its economy beyond aid depends highly on empowering its entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses, adding that an expanded economy built on the back of entrepreneurs will create more jobs for unemployed young people.
Drawing inference from a country considered to be highly business-friendly, Mr. Samuelsen said: “What we have been able to do in Denmark is make it very easy to start a new business. We have more or less everything online, such that you can easily register your businesses without difficulties,” he added.
The minister also re-echoed Denmark’s readiness to push for a shift in the paradigm of its economic ties with Ghana from aid to trade, which according to him translates into new businesses for both Ghanaian and Danish investors.
Dr. Charles Mensa, Board Chairman of the IEA, in his remarks at the meeting also observed that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of ‘Africa Beyond Aid’ ties in with Denmark’s policy of ‘aid to trade’.
He was upbeat that this can fully be realised if Ghanaian manufacturers commit to adding value to their produce.
He said: “In our humble view, this vision of ours and the Danish policy can be very successful if Ghana is able to trade value-added products or manufactured goods and services, using our abundant labour. With proper guidance and support for technical partnerships, these young people can create the new Africa that we all aspire to see. The Africa that adds value to its resources creates more jobs for its young people”.
During the hour-long discussion, participants shared their challenges which included the lack of skilled personnel, financial support, training – and a current educational system that is disconnected from the needs of industry.
Ms. Israella Mansu, Founder and CEO of Mansuki Ghana Limited – a cosmetic company, in making a case for capacity-building for young entrepreneurs stated that a training programme she once attended in the United States changed the fortunes of her GH₵300 start-up to one worth more than GH₵1million today.
For his part, Mr. Alex Adjei Bram, co-founder and CEO of Hubtel Limited – a mobile and Internet value-added service (VAS) provider, said the way forward to growing entrepreneurship in Ghana is to provide an enabling environment, one whose taxes do not stifle growth.
Also in attendance were young entrepreneurs who cut across various sectors: including technology, cosmetics, food and beverages, cloth-designs, shoe-making, furniture, water provision and lifestyle products.
In Denmark, business incubator Innovation Fund Denmark annually selects young entrepreneurs whose business ideas receive coaching and funding to become growth companies.
The Fund invests in the development of new research-based knowledge and technology creating growth and employment in Denmark; and provides risk capital that enables innovation and partnerships wherein companies, universities and public authorities work together on challenges facing society today.