Ghana, a country south of the sahara has many budding entrepreneurs and is considered a lower middle income country with a sizable youthful population largely entrenpreneurial. Some of them who have been globally recognized include game changers, Bright Simons, and Elikem Kuenyehia.
But, the field of entrepreneurship poses a lot of challenges for many Ghanaians charting its slippery road. Many face several hurdles and are not able to surmount and hence, fold up initiatives.
Elikem for instance had to price his services low to stay competitive even with superior services as initial clients who took the risk on him became loyal advocates since. In an interview with Global Voices Online, he encourages aspiring young entrepreneurs to invest in their own personal development. And adds that, “Africa is changing rapidly and will continue to do so. None of us can predict with real certainty what the various markets and opportunities will look in five, ten, fifteen, twenty (etc) years. But we can prepare for these opportunities if we invest in our own personal development”.
For Bright, he has had to pursue partnerships outside of Ghana combating counterfeit medicines which abound in his homeland but, for which he is unable to tackle due a seemingly uncooperative public sector. His social enterprise’s mobile health platform allows all patients and consumers – regardless of educational background, income or status – to instantly verify the safety and efficacy of their medicines using their own or a shared mobile phone at no cost across the 95% of territory where a mobile signal is available.
Kumasi Center research highlights two main challenges facing entrepreneurship in Ghana. The first being human resources – many of the entrepreneurs spoken to complain of not finding the right human resources for their business and those that run such businesses may not possess the requisite skills to manage their own enterprises. The other is start-up and management capital. With a less developed venture capital or private equity market in Ghana, it is a headache for budding entrepreneurs to source capital for their enterprise especially during the start-up phase. Hence, bright ideas are not implemented – as banks are also completely unhelpful in the area of supporting and growing businesses.
If business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs spend time to build their capacity and recruit right focussing on know-how and values, the HR hurdle and associated challenges can be curtailed. In this area Kumasi Center has launched a program dubbed entrepreneurship series to address issues of human resource constraint. Business owners, students and aspiring entrepreneurs who participate in the program are giving training in entrepreneurship, management, value based leadership and mentorship support through Barclays Bank Ghana staff. The program is expected to empower young Ghanaians to change mindset from job seeking to job creation with the requisite support mechanisms.
To address the issue of funding, the government of Ghana set up the venture capital trust fund to support entrepreneurs but is largely underfunded. Perhaps a policy that encourages local banks with their partners to grow businesses is needed to boost the sector. On the part of Kumasi Center and funding for start-ups, collaboration is being pursued with the Ghana Center for Entrepreneurship, Employment and Innovation, a unique public-private-partnership with the Government of Ghana in developing customized funding and start-up tool scheme to address financial and resource constraints.
Although challenges abound, the prospect of changing the ‘game’ through collaboration and innovation makes working in the sector worthwhile.
Yaw Adu-Gyamfi- is a consultant on Governance and Sustainable Development and Director at Kumasi Center for Life-Long Learning, a center for skills training and entrepreneurship, research and advocacy based in Kumasi, Ghana.