Determined to change the economic fortunes of Ghana, government on Thursday launched an ambitious plan to promote the growth and development of entrepreneurship and to accelerate job creation for national development.
The initiative- National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NIEP) is a multi-pronged approach aimed at creating the conducive and business-friendly environment to stimulate enterprise activities and provide integrated national support for start-ups and small businesses that would in turn generate employment for the teeming youth of Ghana.
Launching the flagship programme in Accra, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo noted that countries that had encouraged high levels of investment in entrepreneurship development were the ones that had made rapid economic strides in the past 20 years.
He pointed out that establishing a strong economy and generating improved living standards for the people of Ghana was the most important task he had had to accomplish as a President.
The President said the NEIP would be government’s primary vehicle for supporting start-ups and small businesses.
He said the Plan would enable new businesses to emerge and give them the space to grow, receive financing and business development services, secure markets during the critical formative years, and to tap into a wide supply chain and network during their growth years, helping to create jobs at a widely distributed, national level.
Announcing a US$10 million seed money for the Plan, President Akufo-Addo said “It is the intention that this seed money should be leveraged to raise money from private sources and public organisations to the tune of US$100 million to fund its programmes.”
He said the Plan was in fulfilment of his goal to build the most business-friendly economy in Africa, and create jobs and prosperity for all Ghanaians.
Acknowledging that the greatest problem of the country was unemployment, the President said “I am determined that we change the economic conditions in our country for the better, to ensure that young people see it as a place of opportunities, instead of the place from which they flee at the peril of their lives
“We need to do all within our power to create an entrepreneurial climate, to enable our young people come up with creative ideas that can be developed into businesses,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo was confident the Plan would stimulate private sector growth to accelerate job creation and provide the Ghanaian youth with the critical alternative to salaried employment.
Apart from the plan enabling start-up businesses grow and competing domestically, tax incentives that would be be provided under the initiative would incentivise and help private sector investors to set up business incubator hubs and industrial Parks for youth-owned businesses nationally.
The President said the NIEP would establish a Youth Enterprise Fund which would be leveraged to attract private capital to fund start-up and also provide a ready market for the products and services of start-ups through the reservation of a percentage of the proposed 70% of local content public procurement contracts.
He indicated further that NEIP would implement a Buy-Local policy for ICT services from youth-owned businesses, as well as set up an Industrial Sub-Contracting Exchange to link large industries with small businesses and start-ups as a supply chain for goods and services.
“I am confident that this Plan will be made to work to provide young people with what it promises. Young people, who take the risk of entrepreneurship, will find that they have support through the difficult, early stages,” he said.
“I am passionate about the Plan working. I am investing a lot in it, and I have confidence in the Minister for Business Development, Ibrahim Awal Mohammed, who has devised the Plan, and will be in charge of seeing it to fruition.”