Mr Anders Samuelsen, the Danish Foreign Minister has said Ghana’s quest to develop its economy beyond aid depended highly on empowering its entrepreneurs to grow and expand their businesses.
He said an expanded economy built on the back of entrepreneurs would create more jobs for unemployed young people. Mr Samuelsen who accompanied the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II on a two-day visit to Ghana made the remark when he was hosted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra.
It was to create a platform for promising young entrepreneurs to engage the Danish Minister on the prospects and challenges of entrepreneurship in Ghana.The Danish Minister was accompanied by Ms Susanne Hyldelund, Danish Secretary of State, Mr Anders Kaldan Helstrand, Private Secretary, Mr Peter Eilschow Olesen, Deputy Head of Mission, Danish Embassy, Accra and Ms Anne Moller Ege, Press Advisor.
At the meeting were young Ghanaian entrepreneurs who cut across various sectors including; technology start-ups, cosmetics, food and beverage, cloth designs, shoe making, furniture, water provision and lifestyle products.
Mr Samuelsen told the youth that: “The future belongs to you. You are your country’s young population and entrepreneurship is in you. Entrepreneurship creates unique opportunities to create something special that can lead to economic growth, job creation and solve problems of your country. You are those creating the future. It takes a lot of resilience.”
During an hour interaction with the Minister and his entourage, the participants shared their challenges which included; the lack of skilled personnel, financial support, lack of training and the current educational system that is disconnected from the needs of industry.
Mr Samuelsen said it was inspiring to meet promising young entrepreneurs in Ghana with great spirits to change things around them as well as to create businesses that meet the needs of society.
“What we have been able to do in Denmark is to make it very easy to start a new business. We have more or less everything online such that you can easily register your businesses without difficulties,” he said. He said Denmark’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was one that promoted young businesses through capacity building and financial support, adding that; “for instance, the country’s Innovation Fund Denmark annually selects young entrepreneurs whose business ideas receive coaching and funding to become growth companies.”
Mr Samuelsen said the Innovation Fund Denmark invests in the development of new research-based knowledge and technology creating growth and employment in Denmark, stressing that; “The Fund provides risk capital that enables innovation and partnerships, where companies, universities and public authorities work together on challenges facing society today.”
“With Denmark pushing to shift the paradigm of its economic ties with Ghana from aid to trade, Ghanaian government’s vision could transit the country from aid to trade, which meant new businesses from Ghanaian and Danish investors,” he said.
He said Danish support to Ghana over the last 30 years through its aid agency, DANIDA, covered areas including; good governance, skills development, rural finance and business advocacy. Contributing to the discussions, Mr Amfo-Akonnor, a restaurant owner at Biishville, said that Ghana’s educational system was full of theory and lacked practical training that would awaken the spirit of entrepreneurship among young people.
Ms Israella Mansu, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mansuki Ghana Limited, a cosmetic company, speaking on capacity building said a training programme she attended in the United States, organised by the US Department of State changed her fortune of GHc300 start-up to over GHC 1 million today.
Mr Alex Adjei Bram, the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hubtel Limited, a mobile and Internet value added service provider said the way forward to growing entrepreneurship in Ghana was to provide an enabling environment, saying “one that taxes did not stifle growth but entrepreneurs supported to expand and employ others.”
Dr Charles Mensa, the Board Chairman of the IEA in a welcoming address said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of “Africa Beyond Aid” tied with Denmark’s policy of “aid to trade” could be very successful if Ghana is able to add value to its products or manufactured goods and services.
He said: “Using our abundant labour and with proper guidance and support for technical partnerships, these young people can create the new Africa that we all aspire to see. The Africa that adds value to its resources creates more jobs for its young people.”