It is no news that Ghana is on the rise.

Against the background of achievements like the Ghana Cocoa Forest REDD+ Programme (GCFRP), spanning 5.9 million hectares and set to significantly reduce deforestation, promote climate-smart cocoa production and contribute to national landscape and land-use planning, Ghana is one of the rising leaders on the continent, actively pursuing development and prosperity for its people.

The best indicator for global players as a marker for selecting investment destinations is the performance of the local private sector. If local businesses thrive, demonstrating a viable market, foreign investors will naturally follow.

Twitter’s decision to launch in Ghana, as well as Germany’s intention to establish a German-West African centre for global health and pandemic prevention in Ghana, as well as Ghana’s recent appointment to host The Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area, are all demonstration of this competitive advantage, and point to an ambitious future for the country.

With a population of only 30 million, a fraction of neighbouring Nigeria’s 200 million, a combination of these initiatives will create even more opportunities for the nation’s private sector and in particular young entrepreneurs.

Upon close analysis of the performance of Ghana’s private sector, SMEs have been at the forefront of innovation.

’57, the pioneer bean to bar chocolate business in Ghana is using local resources to create delicious treats, challenging the notion that premium chocolate can only be made in Europe.

According to the Tony Elumelu Foundation – funded entrepreneurs, “we want to bring manufacturing back to Ghana.” Indeed, entrepreneurship has a fundamental bearing on how economies and societies thrive.

Built Accounting, a Ghana-grown initiative, also funded by the Tony Elumelu Foundation, has impacted over 5,000 small businesses in Ghana through its small business training programs and business development services. Its direct beneficiaries have gone on to mobilize over $480,000 in credit, generating $2.5 million in incremental revenue and creating over 500 new jobs for the youth.

Although entrepreneurship on the continent is not new, there is a renewed and increased focus on entrepreneurship as an alternative to employment. Only the private sector and small businesses, not government, can launch a 21st century economy and ensure prosperity for millions.

Businesses less than five years old and with fewer than 20 workers employ the majority of jobs across the continent.

 No doubt, Ghana is on the way to leveraging its natural resources led by vibrant local SME sector to cement a prosperous future. Just in January, the Tony Elumelu Foundation partnered with the European Commission and OACPS to empower and unlock women’s potential to direct boost Africa’s economic growth.

With focus on more than 2,500 women entrepreneurs from countries that includes Ghana, this initiative will support these women entrepreneurs, providing gender sensitive entrepreneurship training, as well as seed capital for African female businesses to navigate through the start-up and early growth phases.

Developing and empowering Ghana’s youth and entrepreneurship ecosystem will impact the growth, competitiveness and future-readiness of its economy to compete on global level. In order to accelerate its development as an African hub, Ghana, must seek to invest in and extend its range of entrepreneurs that will enable the private sector to deliver desired results.

Entrepreneurs still require sustainable networks and active support to fully actualise their innovations and scale their businesses as constraints and challenges are still in the way of their performance. Small businesses are still vulnerable to obstacles linked to access to finance and market, multiple taxes, bureaucracy, low regional integration, export difficulties, amongst others.

Ghana’s government is listening and appears proactive. At 2018 TEF Forum, Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo emphasized the role the government must play in the growth of the economy particularly through the implementation of polices that create an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to thrive.

Armed with appropriate training and support networks, African entrepreneurs have the potential of breaking the poverty cycle on the continent.  As one of the key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the Tony Elumelu Foundation is empowering the next generation of African entrepreneurs, through funding, training and mentoring. The Foundation’s $100m commitment determined to harness the ideas of the youth by investing in their start-ups with a target to create one million jobs and $10billion annual revenue.

It seeks to improve the knowledge and technical competences of African entrepreneurs, while making available appropriate resources to enable them explore ideas and construct it into successful businesses. Through the Foundation’s digital hub, TEFConnect, entrepreneurs are connected to key players from various industries and across the continent, giving over 1million Africans access to markets that grow their businesses and local economies.

A 21st century economy is one that is committed to enduring tough challenges. African entrepreneurs have demonstrated such resilience, solving some of Africa’s intractable challenges.

If anything, the pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of resilient SMEs, and how they contribute to the sustenance of economies across the world. Therefore, fostering economic growth (and recovery from the pandemic) requires the full participation of African entrepreneurs, and the acceleration of their development by the private and public sector.

On this account, Ghana is most certainly embracing the dynamic African entrepreneurial spirit.