The Ministry for Business Development is pushing for a legislation to make it mandatory for 30 percent of all public funded contracts to be given to local entrepreneurs especially start-ups.
Business Development Minister, Mohammed Awal revealed this during a working visit to the Accra Digital Centre and the Africa Internship Academy, where over 500 youth entrepreneurs are being trained to build on their entrepreneurial skills under the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
The Minister also reiterated government’s determination to eradicate the unemployment situation in the country through the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
He noted that: “You cannot grow an economy and leave out an important group like 48 percent of the people, that is the youth. Because most of them have business ideas and businesses but they do not have the money to scale up and they don’t have collateral as well. We are here to tell the young people that after the training we will support them start their businesses and hold their hands for the rest of their lives.”
According to him, under the NEIP program, his ministry is expected to write business advantage services to support entrepreneurs. He says as part of President Akufo-Addo’s vision for young people, his ministry has created the environment for young people to set up businesses and for the businesses to grow.
The Minister added that the programme is not just to provide capital for the entrepreneurs but also create a board member of experienced entrepreneurs to offer free mentorship to help them scale up and expand to employ more people.
“Businesses succeed when you mentor. These are people who are very young and below 40 years. They do not have the experience that some of us have so we’ve been able to talk to about 50 businesses in this country. Some are foreign and they’ve agreed to volunteer as mentors. So, when we select these 500 people, we will attach them to various industries.”
Mohammed Awal also noted that the quality of training is assured because the standard for the training is in line with the standards set by the British Council.
“So irrespective of which hub trains you, you are getting the same standard of training and we are making sure it is quality. We have therefore reduced the numbers to an average of 100 plus per session. This will enable the trainers to have time and engage individually with these business start-ups so that we are sure that the concepts are understood and the training can be practicalized,” he said.
In a statement, CEO of NEIP, John Kumah noted that crowd-funding is an area that the NEIP hopes to partner with the private sector to ensure that people have access to long term funding.
He said: “We will be very happy to be associated with such a process because the microfinance kind of loan for start-ups is not sustainable. So, we need to have the kind of pool of funding that can allow individuals to access it for three to five years.”
In an interview with thebftonline.com, co-founder of Innohub, one of the hubs in charge of training the young entrepreneurs, Eben Arthur said the expectation is to be able to work on some of the proposals and work plan of the young entrepreneurs.
“So, if we train them on understanding their business model, we expect that by the following week they should have put that into practice and then send us what they have done. We then have a look at it and then we help them address specific issues that they have around it.”
The entrepreneurs are broken into four groups with four sessions spread over a one-month period. These sessions, according to him, are a bit more intimate and interactive.
“We break them into four groups and each group is made up of fifty people so that we can have more time for them. Different businesses have different needs therefore we are able to use a practical approach in that sector.”