On Wednesday, September 28, Orange Corners Ghana celebrated the graduation of the 45 youth-led businesses that participated in the six-month acceleration programme. Orange Corners welcomed the entrepreneurs to the stage at a physical ceremony at the premises of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Accra.
The graduation marks the end of the first phase, where Orange Corners supported over 150 talented innovators with expert training, coaching and masterclasses, as well as access to facilities, networks and finance to grow their companies.
Hosting the 2022 graduating class and opening the ceremony, The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul, expressed his appreciation saying: “The Kingdom of the Netherlands promotes an ambitious aid, trade and investment policy aimed at finding win-win solutions globally.
“Innovation, entrepreneurship and youth employment are important pillars in the Netherland’s portfolio of Private Sector Development that aims in assisting in becoming a resilient economy in Ghana. Orange Corners is a Dutch flagship programme that focuses on those pillars. The Netherlands stands ready to assist young Ghanaian people in their entrepreneurial journey through the Orange Corners programme.”
Orange Corners Ghana is an initiative of the Netherlands executed by MDF West Africa and in partnership with Fidelity Bank, People’s Pension Trust, Friesland Campina, Vivo Energy and Meridian Port Services (MPS). The importance of supporting an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs is also shared by the private partners of Orange Corners.
Shirley Tony Kum of Vivo Energy Ghana said: “Vivo Energy has made community development an integral part of its business. As an organisation, we believe in empowering the youth, giving them the needed skills and requisite capacity so that they can also contribute to the communities where they operate in and also advance the development of the country.”
Speaking to the 2022 Graduating Class, Saqib Nazir of People’s Pension Trust (PPT), shared that across emerging markets, the big trend seen with the teeming youth population is that the future for the economy is through self-employment and entrepreneurship.
“It is therefore very important for us to support these entrepreneurs to create viable micro, small and medium enterprises that will employ not just them, but others also. The world is in quite a difficult situation and so it is very important for us as PPT and organisations to add value to our young entrepreneurs across the country, and also for entrepreneurs to consider themselves as tools of impact; to use themselves, their businesses, capital and profits as forces for good to add value to the economy.”
Managing Director of MDF West Africa – the lead implementing agency, Richard Yeboah, said: “With the Orange Corners acceleration programme we take existing businesses a step further. During the 6 months, we focus on governance, growth strategies, financial management and compliance; and we have seen great improvements in the companies in terms of management and decent job creation. We also want to thank the private sector partners for their involvement and opening up their networks and even buying products and services from the companies”.
During the graduation ceremony, the entrepreneurs expressed their appreciation for the programme.
The CEO of GIDDINS Innove, Gideon Dendzo, said: “I joined Orange Corners to build capacity for my business and to access business coaching and funding. Given the impact of COVID on businesses, Orange Corners taught me how to effectively utilise the training and business coaching to grow and be better at the loan acquisition process to scale even further.”
He also urged entrepreneurs to take advantage of the AfCFTA to form partnerships and collaborate on key areas within the trade markets.
Jessica Mensah, CEO of Fafa’s Breakfast who had invested a lot in her business and needed to scale, said: “I had issues with my workers, my suppliers were all over the place and I had a bad structure even though sales were increasing. Orange Corners helped us plan our business structure from customer retention to compliance, gain employee retention, access funding to scale up, all the way down to product development, having a good impact on society through our healthy products on the markets”.
As part of the programme, the 45 entrepreneurs supported between 2021 and August 2022 can apply for a low-interest growth loan up to €50,000 from the Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF) managed by Fidelity Bank – the official financial partner, helping the entrepreneurs overcome the difficult barriers of finance.
Since the start of the programme in 2019, Orange Corners Ghana has supported 93 entrepreneurs, of which 43 percent are women-owned companies. The programme has successfully issued affordable loans in the tune of €550,000 so far. All companies have grown in number of staff and revenue, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After the successful implementation of both programmes, the partners have agreed to expand the Orange Corners Ghana Initiative to reach over 600 entrepreneurs in the coming year. The Orange Corners Ghana Acceleration Programme will now expand to Ho, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale to give other young talented Ghanaians outside Accra access to the Orange Corners support.
The application for the next cohort will be open in October 2022.