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The entrepreneurial ecosystem in West Africa is robust and innovative. This is according to high-profile delegates attending this region’s conference aimed at accelerating small and growing business growth on the continent this week.
Hosted in Accra, Ghana by the United States-based Aspen Institute of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) and Impact Investing Ghana, the conference attracted leading investors, entrepreneurs and start-up founders keen on growing their entrepreneurial ecosystems.
ANDE managing director Kyle Newell said, “The conference strengthened network partnerships and will continue to elevate the entrepreneur’s voice, strengthen connections across Francophone and Anglophone [Africa] and build solutions to address the needs of the entrepreneurial ecosystem especially in the private sector. Together, we will accelerate the growth of SGBs”
The fifth annual conference featured interactive sessions focused on issues such as gender equality, climate and environmental action, decent work, economic growth, and focusing resources on earlier stage support for small businesses. Rebuilding a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem post-Covid-19 was high on the agenda.
In a keynote address, Michael Mensah-Baah, deputy chief executive of the Development Bank in Ghana said, “We hope to support everyone and will not limit ourselves to some specific SMEs. We will make sure that once we give out the loans, it will be utilised in a way that supports the growth of the SME so that in the end, we will see transformation of the private sector in Ghana.
Opportunities abound in West Africa
In the opening plenary to discuss improving business environment for African enterprises, Hamdiya Ismaila, Impact Investing Ghana board member, reiterated that small and growing businesses in Ghana lacked access to information. She also recommended that private-sector led enterprise development and technical assistance providers needed to be prioritised by donors and foundations.
“Entrepreneurship education and support is an essential part of the solution mix for our industry. It must be taken more seriously by funders as it would make the work of investors much more efficient,” added Constance Swaniker, representing Accents and Arts, DTI and Impact Investing Ghana.
According to Kofi Ofosu Nkansah, chief executive of NEIP, Ghana’s national entrepreneurship and innovation programme was focused on creating opportunities for young people through business support initiatives.
The attendees also witnessed a showcase of the UN International Trade Centre’s work building resilient business models, providing linkages to national and international business and investment opportunities and digitalising traditional MSMEs.
“Investors and ecosystem players who are really making a difference not just in Ghana but across Africa attended this conference and we at UN ITC are excited to showcase top agriculture and tech SMEs. We are here to help all businesses grow, internationalize them and really look into how we can get the agribusinesses and tech start-ups to new markets,” said ITC national coordinator for Ghana, Isaac Newton-Acquah.