President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, under the Business Development Ministry and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), has awarded 1,350 entrepreneurs with an amount ranging from GH¢10,000 to a GH¢100,000 to start and expand their businesses.
The move is termed the ‘Presidential Business Support Programme’ (PBSP), and is aimed at curbing unemployment – especially among the youth – through training and funding.
According to President Akufo-Addo, unlike traditional banks which have interest rates pegged at 26%, the Presidential Business Support Programme has an interest rate of 10% and beneficiaries are expected to make full repayment of the facility within a 3-year period.
He said: “I dare say the wealth of this nation was built on the private sector and entrepreneurial spirit of the people. Time was when the good money was made by the private sector and the risk-takers and not by public officials. We need to get back to those times.”
The president said he was encouraged that 7,000 Ghanaians applied, because it implies they are ready to start their own businesses. He noted that all 7,000 applicants underwent a well-structured training programme, conducted in fifty private incubation hubs across the country, to build their managerial capacity for their various ventures.
Therefore, even though only 1,350 became beneficiaries of the facility, the remaining 5,650 are well-equipped to expand and grow their businesses.
The selection criteria for all 7,000 applicants included: the business being Ghanaian-owned; being a micro, small or medium-scale enterprise either in a start-up stage or an already existing business that needs support for growth.
Also, the business must possess sustainability or a growth model; must have the ability to scale-up and employ others; and be prepared to go through an intensive structured entrepreneurship training programme and mentorship.
The areas of focus of the 1350 businesses selected for funding cut across agribusiness and agro processing, Information Communication Technology (ICT), sports tourism and recreation, sanitation and waste management, green and ecological businesses, health food and beverages, fashion, clothing, accessories and beauty, media marketing and communications, manufacturing and industrial processing, real estate and construction, and transport logistics and professional services.
The beneficiaries are expected to receive continuous training and capacity development, mentorship and business advisory services, free accounting services, access to business networking opportunities and seed capital from the Business Development Ministry.
The beneficiaries, according to the president, are also expected to employ more people in order to reduce the rate of unemployment in the country.
“You must be able to create some 30,000 direct jobs from employing other people within the next year, and several thousands of indirect jobs,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo admonished them to seize the opportunity provided by the programme and demonstrate their entrepreneurial ability.
On his part, Business Development Minister Dr Mohammed Awal revealed that the Ministry of Business Development has six initiatives this year.
This includes the Presidential Pitch; the School Entrepreneurship Initiative (SEI); Youth in Industry, wherein 42 micro industries will be set up across the country to employ people; the Zongo business development; Women in business support in Ghana; Green business; Support for the physically challenged; and the Presidential Business Support Programme (PBSP).
The CEO of the NEIP, John Kumah, said the presidential disbursement is the first of its kind in which a deliberate, systematic as well as integrated national policy has been instituted to support start-ups and small businesses.
He noted that disbursement of the fund was done in three phases, which are the Southern, Middle and Northern phases. The Southern disbursement was done by President Akufo-Addo, and the Middle and Northern disbursement will be spearheaded by Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu and Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia respectively.
The president launched the NEIP a year ago under the auspices of the Business Development Ministry to support and develop young businesses across the country, providing business development services, start-up incubators, and funding for young businesses to enable them to grow.