… as AVI 2021 fellows graduate
Businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), have been advised to derisk and better position their operations to attract investors, drum up financial support, and boost growth.
Following concerns that many enterprises fail in their quest to access funding because they are not investor-ready, experts, in an interview with the B&FT at the graduation of the Ashesi Venture Incubator in Accra, argued that SMEs must be intentional and play significant roles to gain the trust of potential investors and funding sources.
“To every start-up out there, you would want to derisk as much as possible and put yourself in a position for investors to believe your story and to show enough traction for them to know that you have a chance of surviving. Unfortunately, it is true many are not investor-ready because I am also on the side of financing start-ups.
“There is already a risk that comes with investing in start-ups; but if they can come through incubation or a programme that allows them to make the mistakes, and get them corrected and tested, it derisks them, making it less risky to invest in their operations. Every investor out there is looking for a start-up with minimum risk, so an incubation programme makes it less risky,” lead consultant at Bridge-Tailor Consulting, Emmanuel Anni Acquah, said.
He added that programmes that sought to derisk start-ups must be encouraged and adapted to by universities in the country.
“It has to be a national drive. With the YouStart going on, it has to be the way because the graduate unemployment problems cannot be handled by just working in the public sector. It needs to be solved by new businesses opening up, and this is the way to go,” he said.
Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of iSpace Foundation, Josiah Kwesi Eyison, advised that to better position themselves, businesses must be innovative, understand the market and competition, and train their staff.
“There is more that goes into being investor-ready – making sure you understand your financial statements, knowing your profit margins, and knowing your space in the value chain. All these are things that need to be understood before someone invests in you; but most start-ups think all they need is a pitch deck. It does not work like that as it is just an introduction. There is also the need for investment-ready programmes for these start-ups,” he indicated.
He added that businesses must be able to hold strong in the market – where their customers are, and internally – their staff.
For her part, a mentor with the Ashesi Venture Incubator, Annatu Neina Abdulai, holds that with the country’s agenda of making entrepreneurship one of the drivers of the economy, everyone ought to have an entrepreneurial mindset, saying: “Even if one does not eventually own a business, it will help drive the organisations they come across”.
The AVI graduation
The event, which was an evening dedicated to highlighting the development of ethical entrepreneurial leaders through the Ashesi Venture Incubator (AVI) programme, saw 14 individuals of the 2021 cohorts graduating with promising businesses.
The AVI is a one-year incubation programme for graduates as part of their National Service, and for recent alumni of Ashesi University to accord them the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship as a career alternative.
The programme stands to optimise the growth and impact capacity of early-stage ventures by equipping them with the tools and resources they need to transition their models into hybrid business models to transform economies.
Graduating fellows include Matthew Ndekudugu (LiveFarm), Ishmael Ofori Aboagye (Waaba Studios), and Oliver Mensah (Brightfield Tech Academy) whose businesses seek to champion sustainability through food and education.
Also, Warihana Gumah (Wriri Bespoke), Mercy Chigabatia Wuga (Caraven Global), Ruth Ayamga Danso (Trismi), and Gifty Sefakor Affum (Sefa’s Patterns) have businesses that focus on redefining beauty through sustainable means.
Those leveraging e-commerce and technology as a major driving force of impact include Nana Yaw Sasu Appiah-Miracle (Fullstack), Manuella Efua Sekyi (Moosla), and David Dieudonné Adu-Amoani (Stockshop).
Maame Afia Darkwah Obeng-Darko (Kaleidoscope by MADOD) and Khanitat Sheriff Abdallah’s (Zuri Eyewear) businesses leveraged art and innovation.
Finally, Samuella Abena Sarpong Asante (Kaniya Energy) and Barnabas Kwame Sabbogu’s (Hopelux Engineering Solutions) businesses focus on sustainable solutions through construction and energy.