Experts at this year’s Youth Economic Forum have made a strong case for the establishment of a competitive entrepreneurial environment – a move they say is critical to the country’s economic recovery, sustainability, as well as stabilisation of the cedi.
They also called for deliberate and holistic policies aimed at establishing, nurturing and upscaling businesses to be major players in the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Speaking on the theme ‘Youth Voices & Action for Economic Growth, Resilience and Employment’ at the 2022 Youth Economic Forum, the Programmes Director-Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), Femi Adewumi, said for the Ghanaian entrepreneurship ecosystem to play a critical role in the country’s recovery amid continuous plummeting of the local currency, policies must be instituted to promote a competitive entrepreneurial environment.
This, he said, will only be possible through training and retraining of entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs to understand the market, as well as how to present their products through effective communication and the usage of technology to disrupt the exiting ecosystem to create new opportunities.
“Investors and banks are willing to give you money, but you need to be ready to take the money. You need to have your records that an investor can take a look at and assess your discipline and steady growth of your business. It is one thing to know how to keep your books and another thing to know how to get to the market,” he stated.
Powered by the Business and Financial Times (B&FT) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, this year’s Youth Economic Forum is part of the 3-day Ghana Economic Forum. The objective of dedicating a day solely to the youth is to better amplify their opinions and voices, and give impetus to their ideas.
Given concerns that many enterprises fail in their quest to access funding because they are not investor-ready, the experts further urged entrepreneurs to practice timely and disciplined record-keeping.
Also, to thrive as an entrepreneur, the experts suggest that beyond presenting quality products for the ready market, SMEs must solve problems and leverage technology and innovative tools for proper record-keeping.
“For growth, SMEs must keep a good record to show diligence toward the business. They must identify innovative tools. When investors look at your operations, they look out for prudence, traceability, accountability and the possibility of growth. Again, as a start-up you must assess yourself to know where to improve yourselves,” said Prince Arnold Mortgagbe from MEST.
He added that it is also crucial they work on their communication skills to confidently pitch ideas and better sell their business operations.
He said leveraging entrepreneurship to go global requires a deliberate effort and structures from leaders, and encouraging partnership with citizens in the diaspora.
For her part, CEO-Big Samps Market, Elselund Ewudzie-Sampson, reiterated that beyond agencies in the country becoming deliberate about efforts pushed into the entrepreneurship agenda, individuals must also be intentional about promoting their businesses.
According to her, whether or not they receive subsidies, businesses must work hard to grow their enterprises.
They also encouraged partnerships to stand the test of time and grow their operations.
Delivering an address to set the tone for the plenary on entrepreneurship, Country Director of the Mastercard Foundation, Rosy Fynn, entreated young entrepreneurs to own their voices and take action toward achieving their ambitions.
She also reiterated Mastercard Foundation’s commitment to getting behind the ambitions of young Ghanaians and creating pathways to dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for them.
“Which is why our Young Africa Works strategy seeks to enable access to dignified work opportunities for 3 million young women and men by 2030; by deepening efforts in the agricultural sector and exploring opportunities in emerging sectors of the economy.
“We believe that by doing this, and working alongside our partners – government, the private sector, and young people – we will unlock the full potential of young people to contribute in building back our economy and creating work opportunities for themselves and others,” she stated.
Again, she urged government to heighten its support for young entrepreneurs by providing them access to innovative finance, market and business development services to expand their enterprises, and to create work opportunities for themselves and their peers.