The government, through National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), has launched the “Season Four” of its annual Presidential Pitch Programme in Accra, aimed at unleashing entrepreneurial revolution in the country. The target of the programme are young people between the ages of 18 and 40 years.
The project is in line with President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision of assisting young entrepreneurs to incubate their business ideas, support young Ghanaians who have brilliant business ideas but don’t have the money to implement them, and be job owners and job creators to improve livelihoods.
Speaking during the launch in Accra, a Deputy Chief Executive Officer of NEIP, Abigail Swad Laryea, said the programme is to curb unemployment rate in the country by supporting young entrepreneurs with soft funding to boost their businesses for job creations.
The NEIP Deputy CEO disclosed that GH¢2.5 million had been earmarked for the successful finalists as a grant “at no cost to them”. On the methodology of the programme, she said it will be focused on core business sectors including Agriculture, FinTech and technology, Manufacturing and Processing, Tourism and Creative Arts, TVET and any other economically viable area.
“We’ll be narrowing down all applications to a top 25 instead of the usual top 20. The award packages for this year’s competition have also been increased. Government is earmarking GH¢2.5 million for the top 25 contestants,” Ms Swad Laryea stated.
The Deputy CEO of NEIP stressed that the President’s main aim is to build the entrepreneurship eco-system that fosters and encourages young people to be business owners and not job seekers.
She, therefore, urged young Ghanaian entrepreneurs with brilliant business ideas across the country to take up the challenge and apply for this year’s pitch with their simple basic business plan, which should contain four elements which are feasible, innovative, scalable and employable.
She also told prospective applicants to log on to the website www.neip.gov.gh to complete an application, where they will be required to submit a very simple business plan for qualification and selection, announcing that “application portal is now open for 2 weeks. June 30 – July 14, 2023 11:59pm”.
The business plan, she explained, must contain a summary of the business being presented with a problem statement which must be followed with a solution statement.
“It should also contain market viability of the business concept, sales traction or financial summaries if any, the job creation potential, the scalability potential, sustainability potential and economic impact of your business. You must include pictures of your products or services and a one-minute mini pitch of your business,” she outlined.
On eligibility criteria, the Deputy CEO of NEIP said the competition is open to Ghanaian citizens only who must be between the ages of 18 and 40 years at the time of application.
“The competition aims to encourage the country’s youth, so only individuals within the specified age range are eligible to participate. Applicants must present businesses that are innovative, feasible, scalable, and impactful.
“The business should have the potential to grow and expand beyond a small-scale operation. It should have the potential to create jobs and contribute to our economic growth. It should also be able to address social, economic, or environmental challenges. And it must have a positive impact on society,” she said.
Ms Swad Laryea also emphasised that the business submitted must be the original work of the applicant and should not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of others, noting that all applicants must adhere to the submission guidelines as outlined.
“A panel of judges get to decide who obtains funding. These judges are all seasoned and accomplished entrepreneurs in their own right. To show the level of commitment he has towards youth entrepreneurship, the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo sits through all the process,” she indicated.
She gave the assurance that the NEIP will continue to serve as the primary vehicle for providing integrated national support for start-ups and small business, focusing on the provision of business development services, business incubators and funding for youth-owned businesses.