Is entrepreneurship the solution to Ghana’s woes?


As we are about to enter the holiday season, many Ghanaians are feeling despondent as the economic crisis does not allow for festivities and the solution to our nation’s troubles seem to elude leaders and laymen alike. Ghana has been here before, too many times; and while most Ghanaians quite understandably focus on immediate relief, we must broaden our vision and start looking for ways to not just avoid another crisis but grow and flourish as the great nation we can be.

Late last week, we saw an example of something that could be a solution to our woes when Andrew Takyi-Appiah, founder and managing director of Zeepay, was interviewed by Nana Aba on the GhOne show Star Chat. In less than a decade, Takyi-Appiah has brought Zeepay from a humble fintech startup to, just this year, winning the prestigious Ghana Club 100. In an unusual and refreshing departure from the usual glossiness of prime-time entertainment, Mr. Takyi-Appiah spoke candidly about what it means to be an entrepreneur, the many trials and failures it takes to get to the top, and why tenacity matters. The interview focused on entrepreneurship; on what it really means, to be able to fall many times and get up again to fight another day, and how sweet the success is when you truly earn it.

The story he told should serve as a lesson to our youth, and to all of Ghana while we as a country enter our 18th IMF bailout. Ghana is a young country in more ways than one; a vast majority of our population is under 36 years old and we need to find a way to inspire and drive them so they can harness the massive potential this nation holds.

The answer may be to highlight more positive role-models – people who can represent more wholesome values and push the youth in the right direction. It has long been an unfortunate trend in our society to praise and idolise empty suits and ostentatious luxury: leading to a society of shortcuts, corruption and shortsightedness where the gate is wide, the road is broad, and the end result is inevitable economic hardship and periodic bailouts.

If our youth look up to self-made businessmen and women – people with a rich and often complicated experience of life and work – they will learn that real success comes at a price and only through grit and tenacity, which will ultimately change our entire society for the better. Entrepreneurs, not influencers, should influence our children; and the way to achieve that is for our government to actively encourage the youth to develop their ideas and start businesses within our borders.

The solution to Ghana’s woes is to support and encourage entrepreneurs and glorify hard work and sacrifice. Our government should, as part of the economic rescue effort, engage with successful Ghanaian entrepreneurs and take their advice as the country moves forward. Ghana does not lack sharp minds or success stories; other than the aforementioned Andrew Takyi-Appiah one thinks of Kofi Dadzie, Co-Founder of Rancard with Ehi Binitie; and Paul Jacquaye, founder of Clydestone, just to name a few. Why does the government not capitalise on existing innovation and harness the experience these Ghanaian entrepreneurs have come by – many of them the hard way?

In his interview, Andrew Takyi-Appiah suggested that the Ghanaian government should create a hand-holding programme in which young people can get step-by-step help and advice to find and utilise existing resources, so as to take that important first step toward entrepreneurship. This, said Takyi-Appiah, will take many young men and women over that first hurdle and create a culture of “yes, we can” as opposed to the “we probably shouldn’t” status quo. Imagine what Ghana could become if the youth had advisors who had walked that walk, lived those experiences, made the mistakes and learned the lessons?

We have been told many times that the problem at the heart of Ghana’s broken economy is lack of revenue mobilisation, and after many trips to the IMF one could make the case that there is an issue with our mindset and our culture as pertains to the economy. If we start growing a nation of young entrepreneurs, fiscal responsibility, ingenuity and forward-motion will become innate parts of our culture, and reliance on government will transform into reliance on self with responsibility for others. This is a future wherein our young men and women can feel hope, and that is the most important commodity any nation can have.


Leave a Reply