President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has awarded GH¢2.5 million as prize money for 30 young Ghanaian entrepreneurs in the fourth edition of the Presidential pitch. This is to boost the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country.
The overall winner of the pitch received GH¢150,000. In addition to that, President Akufo-Addo donated a personal GH¢ 50,000.00 to the overall winner, bringing the total cash price to GH¢ 200,000.00. Those between the 11th and 30th positions received between GH¢30,000 and GH¢50,000, while the first to 10th had between GH¢70,000 and GH¢150,000.
Ten out of the 30 contestants presented their ideas and products before four internationally renowned business executives, who served as judges.
The contestants were Jennifer Kwakwa Sarpong, Bidigreen Ghana Limited; Ike Agyei Mensah, Deaf Can Talk; Bismark Etornam Mensah, Fetuli Foods; Aphraim Bukari Adombila, Haliah Organics Africa; and Kwabena Tuffour, Prosect Feed Limited.
The rest of the ten finalists were Adriana Appiagyei Nsiah Nimo, Reecoplast; Kwaku Ansu Aforo, Recco Solutions; Daniel Amaza Philips, Scibble Works; Georgina Odom, Useful Waste Limited and Caleb Edem Mantey, Relu Interactives.
Addressing the gathering under the theme; “Building a Sustainable Entrepreneurial Nation: The Role of our Future Unicorns,” at the Movenpick Ambassador Hotel, the President said his administration recognises that youth entrepreneurship is the surest way to deal with the huge unemployment challenge confronting the country.
President Akufo-Addo said through the first three pitches, 702 direct and thousands of indirect jobs could be created by the young women with the majority of these jobs being established in rural communities.
He described the success stories of previous winners, such as Aisha Vanessa Liman, a 19-year-old agro-processing entrepreneur who won the first Pitch competition. He also mentioned the accomplishments of the second and third winners, along with several other participants, who have expanded their businesses and created employment opportunities for more young individuals.
The President also singled out the Chief Executive Officer of Pizzaman Chickenman, Christian Boakye Yiadom, who placed 10th in season two and had gone ahead to establish branches throughout the country, leveraging the GH¢25,000 prize he won.
President Akufo-Addo said before taking office, the country had not done well in incubating ideas and developing them into potential businesses.
Accordingly, the President said he took the decision to set up the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) in 2017 with an initial startup capital of $10 million to provide support for young entrepreneurs.
President Akufo-Addo said the NEIP had a special purpose vehicle to champion the agenda of job creation, innovation and business development in the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem by creating initiatives that benefited the youth directly.
The President said NEIP would continue to serve as the primary vehicle for providing integrated national support for start-ups and small businesses, focusing on the provision of business development services, business incubators, and funding for youth-owned businesses.
President Akufo-Addo emphasised that the cash prizes were grants, not loans, and a demonstration of the government’s commitment to building an ecosystem of the fastest opportunity and innovation for youth entrepreneurs.
“The Presidential Pitch winners will continue to receive mentorship, coaching and business advisory services over the next few years for free. Knowing the tenacity of Ghanaians, I would like to challenge the winners to employ best business practices, so that they become competitive to create jobs for Ghanaians,” he advised.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the NEIP, Kofi Ofosu Nkansah, noted that under his leadership and direction, and support of the President, the NEIP is committed to supporting entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses in order to turn Ghana into an entrepreneurial nation.
Mr Nkansah said the programme received applications from various sectors, such as financial technology (Fintech), manufacturing and processing, food and beverage, agri-business, tourism and creative sector, and technical, vocational education and training (TVET).
He, therefore, urged the finalists not to have doubts about what they could do but look up to Fintech giants such as ZeePay, Express pay, and Hubtel, which all faced difficulties on their way up the ladder.
Mr Nkansah mentioned some of the accomplished businessmen and women, who had been mentoring the pitchers, including the Founder and CEO of ZeePay, Andrew Tekyi Appiah; the Akyempemhene of the Juaben Traditional Area, the 2022 Overall National Best Farmer, Oheneba Gyan Siriboe; and the Chief Executive of the Jospong Group of Companies, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong.
He also assured the 30 participants that even after the competition, the pitchers would receive support from NEIP.