The first annual Open House has outdoored four Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and their machines developed through the Design & Technology Institute (DTI) Community Innovation Project.

The Community Innovation Project is an acceleration program designed to provide student-led enterprises with the tools, funding, and support they need to bring their business ideas or products to market and scale in agriculture, water and sanitation, plastics recycling, e-waste, and other sectors of the economy.

The programme encourages participants to take a fresh look at problems in their community and identify new areas of business opportunity through coaching and market research. A portfolio of innovative start-ups is then created, incubated and supported with seed capital, business development services, market access, and a makerspace as the innovations progress from ideation to sustainable businesses.

The DTI Community Innovation project is aimed at developing Ghana's next generation of young entrepreneurs and assists the students to create SMEs for their projects.  

The businesses outdoored comprised of two sole proprietorships and two partnerships which have produced light machines for the agricultural and hospitality industries:

  • MEKFIX Engineering – is a new start-up that manufactures cocoa pod breaker machines to solve bean harvesting problems for cocoa farmers while also reducing child labour on our cocoa farms.
  • Haki Agro Engineering – is a new start-up that manufactures groundnut shell threshers that threshes 10 sacks of groundnuts in 2 hours while using 1.5 litres of fuel and saving the farmer time.
  • Lysarp Field Engineering – is a new company that manufactures fully mechanized seed planters to help farmers save money and time when planting crops.
  • JEYS Engineering – is a new start-up that manufactures low-cost adjustable barbecue grills, allowing users to grill with no health risks (burns and poor hygiene).

The four finalists were chosen from a shortlist of 17 teams who began a six-month training program in problem identification, research, ideation, and prototype development on May 13, 2021. The winners were chosen by a panel of judges from industry and academia based on their originality, practicability, potential impact, and scalability.

The winning prototypes were advanced into the DTI Incubation Hub with a $25,000 seed capital to gain extensive business management, financial and operational resources, advisory services, and investment opportunities at DTI within a year.

The project forms part of DTI’s three-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the Young Africa Works “Transforming youth TVET livelihoods for sustainable jobs’’. The project will provide 40,000 direct and indirect work opportunities for the youth in the country.

Ms. Constance Swaniker, Founder & CEO, Accents & Arts and DTI said “The businesses graduating from the Incubation Hub all have the potential to solve real problems for customers, create jobs, and drive growth. DTI will continue to support young entrepreneurs who want to transform Ghana’s economy and accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”

"The determination of the Incubation Hub participants to succeed despite the challenges of starting a business deeply impressed me. The quality of the teams, their entrepreneurial spirit, and the potential of their business ideas are all testaments to everyone at DTI. I would like to congratulate them all and wish them the best of luck in the future."

During the one-year Incubation period, entrepreneurs were assisted in developing their innovative ideas into high-potential businesses. Technical consultants, individual and group training, organized visits to established businesses, and business advisory services were provided. 

She went on to say that as West Africa's premier prototype development centre, DTI is on a journey to train and develop learners who are sensitive to the socioeconomic needs of people, communities, and businesses, and who are ready and willing to develop innovative solutions to meet such needs in order to generate income for themselves while also creating sustainable jobs for the youth.

"Through the Innovation Hub programme, we demonstrated what Ghanaian start-ups can accomplish when given the right support." We are honoured to present to our partners and stakeholders the outcomes of the entrepreneurs' work over the past year," she concluded.

Elizabeth Amoah, one of the beneficiaries, stated that the DTI Innovation Hub provided her with the opportunity to learn how to run a profitable business.

"I have learned how business planning, financial planning, human resource management, teamwork, and business law affect business operations. Now I can make a business plan, collaborate with others effectively, hire competent people, create financial budgets, and manage my business finances."

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