Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia has urged the youth to take advantage of the emerging entrepreneurship landscape in Ghana to drive its economic fortunes and to solve youth unemployment.
He said the strong and resilient growth in the Ghanaian economy requires the urgent need to promote creative minds and problem solvers as a strategic tool to address unemployment challenges and to propel national development.
The Vice President made these comments when he launched the Student Entrepreneurship Initiative (SEI) for tertiary institutions at the University of Ghana Business School in Accra on Wednesday.
The Student Entrepreneurship Initiative is a government policy aimed at building an entrepreneurial mindset among students at the senior high and tertiary levels.
The Vice-President argued that nurturing and offering support to youth entrepreneurship has the fairest chance of creating new business entities, which is an essential ingredient for the development of a vibrant and formal small- and medium-sized business sector, which is the core of most competitive economies and developing countries like Ghana.
He noted that the industrialisation strategies and initiatives under the current enterprise development dispensation should serve as a platform to tap into the dynamic and youthful entrepreneurs of Ghana.
In furtherance of this and in line with the vision of President Akufo-Addo, he said the Ministry of Business Development is developing a comprehensive National Entrepreneurship Policy to support the development and training of opportunity-driven entrepreneurs to create employment on a large scale, improve livelihoods and create wealth towards the achievement of a ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Furthermore, the NEIP Business Support Programme and National Business Plan Competition, launched in 2017, has since trained over 7,000 entrepreneurs across the country by selected entrepreneurship hubs, adding that about 1,350 entrepreneurs who presented innovative and bankable business plans were selected and provided with seed capital ranging from GH¢10,000 to GH¢100,000.
Other initiatives include the Presidential Pitch, which was also launched in 2018 to promote entrepreneurial spirit among the youth between the ages 15 and 24 towards job creation. Currently, 20 young entrepreneurs have been selected and given financial support to develop their entrepreneurial ideas into businesses.
The Vice-President thus encouraged the youth to avail themselves to the opportunities the government is creating in growing entrepreneurs to break the jinx of the majority of graduates scouting for low-paying public sector jobs.
“You are the future leaders of our great nation Ghana. Embracing entrepreneurship will not only help you develop alternative job opportunities but will go a long way to increase the rate of business formation with its attendant job and wealth creation,” he added.
He was optimistic that the youth of the country can be a positive force for development when provided with the knowledge, skills and the right opportunities.
The Vice-President said empowering the youth in entrepreneurial skills is the country’s best bet to break the jinx of the country’s overdependence on raw materials exports, which offers limited opportunities for a broad-based industrial growth that opens doors for job creation.
“You are crucial agents of industrialisation; our creative force who can take on innovative, yet risky, activities, to add value to our raw materials.”
Minister for Business Development, Dr Awal Mohammed said his ministry stands ready to offer the needed support to bankable business ideas from the youth and to nurture businesses that can compete on the international stage.
He noted that, for example, the Student Entrepreneurship Initiative programme has since offered 4,000 students startup support, and was hoping to increase the number to 20,000 by close of next.
He, therefore, challenged the Business School to present 100 students with bankable business proposals for support from his ministry each year.
He added that his ministry is focused on creating a sustainable and most business-friendly and business-enabling environment that fosters private sector-led investments for job creation and livelihoods.
He admonished the students to take advantage of the many initiatives and business startup support offered by the government under his ministry to build vibrant businesses and create much-needed job opportunities.
Prof Kwesi Yankah, Minister of State for Tertiary Education, said the Ministry of Education, over the past two years, has been preoccupied with drawing up policies on the role of education in achieving the President’s vision of a country beyond aid.
This, he said, has resulted in the revitalisation of technical and vocational education, and the forging of further collaboration between academia and industry.
Additionally, he said there has since been a collaboration between the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Business Development, as well as the restructuring of the National Service Scheme, and other youth-focused programmes created to expose graduate students to aspire to be entrepreneurs.
Prof Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana, in his address, said a key element of the university’s curriculum is geared towards encouraging entrepreneurship development as a drive to increase student employability.
He emphasised the importance of entrepreneurship development to the country’s development and as a panacea to graduate unemployment.