Tuesday, 26 April 2022 15:08

Startup Takoradi - April 2022 Featured

Written by Kenneth Ferguson-Laing
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Some 207 Entrepreneurs and SMEs gather for the biggest Entrepreneurs summit (Startup Takoradi) in Takoradi - Organized by Duapa Werkspace
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) play a major role in most economies, particularly in developing countries. SMEs account for the majority of businesses worldwide and are important contributors to job creation and global economic development. They represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. Formal SMEs contribute up to 40% of national income (GDP) in emerging economies.These numbers are significantly higher when informal SMEs are included. According to World Bank estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce, which makes SME development a high priority for many governments around the world. In emerging markets, most formal jobs are generated by SMEs, which create 7 out of 10 jobs. However, access to finance is a key constraint to SME growth, it is the second most cited obstacle facing SMEs to grow their businesses in emerging markets and developing countries.

Ghana as a developing country has seen continuous growth in recent decades, and this growth has alleviated poverty and increased the number of middle-income countries in the region. However, the recent regional and global economic slowdown requires a new growth model for Ghana, with strengthened dynamics for MSMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) to boost national productivity. MSMEs and startups are the backbone of the economies of Ghana, accounting for 98% of all enterprises and 66% of the national labour force on average from 2007 to 2012. SMEs contributed 38% of the gross domestic product or manufacturing value-added in Ghana on average in 2007–2012, suggesting their contribution to the region’s economies can be expanded further. SMEs and startups influence trade. SMEs brought about 30% of the total export value in Ghana on average from 2007 to 2012.

Availability of support systems, limited access to finance, lack of a database, low research and development (R&D) expenditures, undeveloped sales channels, and a low level of financial inclusion are some of the reasons behind the slow growth of SMEs and startups.

In 2021, Ghana obtained 0.4 points in the startup ecosystem index, according to data provided by Startup Blink. The indicator ranked Ghana 81st out of 100 countries worldwide. Moreover, Ghana was one of the leading African countries for startup growth as of the same year. Takoradi, the regional capital of the Western Region of Ghana has over the years also recorded a remarkable growth of Startups. Recently, on a six (6) pillar ecosystem ranking scheme, the city of Takoradi was ranked 2nd. The region is well-positioned and offers the most favourable startup operational conditions. These conditions include but are not limited to educational institutes, training centers, the potential of the youths whose entrepreneurial skills can be nurtured, key employable industries, media entities, key financial stakeholders, and markets for startups products and services. As it is popularly said, “The Best comes from the West”, hence it is prudent that Takoradi makes it to the top or better still sustain the hard-earned accolades. This can only be achieved through collective efforts to facilitate a successful implementation of the Startup Takoradi Forum. On the contrary, some indigenes of Takoradi have raised concerns about the challenges they face regularly in their quest to start their businesses or scale the existing startups.

To change this narrative, Duapa Werkspace, which is a nonprofit organization with the sole aim of helping to reduce youth unemployment through various capacity building programs that empower the youth to gain employable and entrepreneurial skills, leveraged on its mandate to connect and collaborate with all stakeholders in the Western Region to implement the “STARTUP TAKORADI FORUM” to create opportunities for all businesses particularly, startups to connect, collaborate and scale-up. This forum was geared towards the realization of mutual benefits for all participating stakeholders.

Startup Takoradi is a one-day event where aspiring startups and SMEs come together to network, share experiences, and learn from industry experts on how to access funds and increase market share. The event also provides a platform to connect startups, SMEs, and stakeholders to exchange ideas and learn best practices from peers and industry experts. To encourage startups and SMEs to build partnerships and grow their brand. And also to promote and create strong brand visibility for startups and SMEs with Takoradi by showcasing the products and services.

The event was scheduled to take place at the Takoradi Mall and commenced in good time as advertised. The event comprised of sessions for speakers, a panel discussion, a pitching session, an exhibition, and a breakout session for networking. Among the speakers for the day were Madam Hilda Abambire (Business Development & Market Linkages advisor – SNV Ghana), Mr. James Arthur Amoah (Director of Administration & Projects SEHuB), Benjamin Nii Kpani Addy (Deputy Executive Officer – Sekondi Takoradi Chamber of Commerce), Alice Ama Darko (CEO Cirilo Consult), Francis Yaw Boamah (Relationship Manager – Ecobank Market Circle branch), Isaac Afenu (Customer Service Associate – Oze App).

Ernest Ziekye (Finance Administration Manager), Prince Bonney (CEO iCode), and Ralph Menz (CEO Naa Sika) were also panelists in the panel discussion which addressed sensitive issues like youth migration to other regions for employment opportunities, Business support structures in the region, Business sustainability in the region, market opportunities as well as innovation and creativity and its nurturing among other topics were addressed.
In addressing the participants Madam Hilda Abambire introduced Startups and SMEs to the Oye Programme which is an Incubation and Acceleration Program for Startups. She also spoke about Green business, circular economy, and sustainability. SMEs and Startups were advised to minimize the use of products that cannot be recycled because of their negative effects on the natural habitat. She threw light on the SNV GrEEn Incubation and the benefits SMEs and Startups derive from the Incubation. The sectors of the GrEEn Business were shared with all present (Agric Sector- Composting, where organic waste decomposes naturally under oxygen-rich conditions used for fertilizing and conditioning the land), (WASH- Reuse/ Recycle, putting a product or an item to same use or different use/ putting a product to new use instead of throwing it away), (Renewable Energy). She expounded on the theories of GrEEn businesses and their benefits to the world in general.

Mr. Benjamin Nii Addy in his submission told participants not to hesitate to seek help/ advise from the STCCI when setting up a business. He informed them that there are support systems for Startups in Takoradi, Ghana, and Abroad where businesses can seek support for business growth. He further advised SMEs and Startups to package their business presentations very well since no one will refuse to give a listening ear to a business well packaged and beneficial. He asked participants to visit the hubs around them (Duapa Werkspace, SE-Hub, BRC for knowledge based-support, BRC for loans and Grants, and Sekondi Takoradi Chamber of Commerce for Market Access.

Mr. Francis Yaw Boamah had his turn to speak, he took SMEs through the importance of record/bookkeeping to be able to access financing opportunities. He also offered all participants financial advice and investment advice. He made it known to participants that one of the mandatory requirements needed to open a business account is to have the business registered. He made known all the types of accounts best for businesses (express plus- up to GHC 30,000.00 deposit, savings account- up to GHC 10,000.00, Digi Account for Start-ups with a minimum deposit of GHC 50.00. Transactions on the Digi account come with no charges. You can request a debit card on this account. Instant transfers can be done to other accounts (Interoperability).

Mr. George Panford enlightened participants on the EDC Fixed Income Fund Investment. He further explained that one can top up and make withdrawals anytime. The interest rate on this account is 16% per annum. He informed all present that financial advice at any Ecobank branch comes at a free cost.

Mr. Isaac Afenu the business coach for OZE App enlightened participants on the need for effective bookkeeping and access to funding. He further advised participants on the things to look out for in good bookkeeping (Debit- How much you spend), (Credit-How much you make), (Cash Balance- How much money you have after spending and selling). He also advised all to separate personal expenses from business expenses and also maintain a habit of regular documentation of transactions, categorizing all expenses (document the right information), organize and storing all business documents. He also explained how the OZE App can be used and its benefits.

Madam Alice Darko, CEO of Cirilo Consult submitted that approximately 20% of new businesses fail in the first 2 years. She outlined factors to consider when setting up a business. (Environmental Factors-Noise and Air pollution, Climate problems such as extreme heat, heavy downpour, and flooding). (Social and Governance Factors such as customer relationship, employee welfare, impact on the community, stakeholder management, etc). She also informed participants that there’s the need to have an advisory board for the business and also internal controls and policies. She advised participants to stay innovative in their businesses to stay above the competition. They were also cautioned to be investment-ready which means good bookkeeping, good digital presence, and marketing, branding among others.

As the event progressed into the pitch session presentations were made by Edna Ama Mensah of Matpat poultry, Vida Aniagyei of Aniwasu garments, Nana Yaa Agyei of Water Forts, Stella Amoako Atta of Sneelly Land ventures. After the various presentations, the panel of judges gave their results and Cash Prizes were awarded to outstanding pitches, the first prize of GHs 2,000 went to Nana Yaa Agyei, the second prize of GHs 1,500 went to Stella Amoako Atta and the third prize also went to Vida Aniagyei.

The event was well participated by some 207 participants, of which 126 were female and 81 were male. The event received a lot of partnerships from major organizations such as SNV Ghana, GIZ Ghana, Takoradi Mall, Social Enterprise Ghana, Ghana Nations Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Sekondi Takoradi Chamber of Commerce, Oze app, BRC, SJH Microcredit, Atuahene Automobile, SE Hub Ghana, Umat Hub, TED Hub, Coronation Foundation, Cirilo Enterprise Consult, Naa Sika, Bramcom Online Radio, Empire 102.7 FM, Maxx 105.1 FM, Sharp 106.9 FM and Connect 97.1FM.
Read 159 times Last modified on Tuesday, 31 May 2022 13:50
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Duapa Werkspace

Duapa Werkspace is a skills development and entrepreneurship hub located in the western region of Ghana.