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Stakeholders in the entrepreneurship and start-up sector have said there is the need for the Ghana to review the approach for entrepreneurship support in the country if it is to fulfil its objective of building a thriving economy based on entrepreneurship.
Among the foremost priorities, they note, is for government to take a second look at the model and running of the Youth Enterprise Support (YES), one of the major government interventions in the sector, aimed at supporting young people with innovative ideas to build them into businesses.
While the YES fund, is a laudable initiative, given the major challenge of access to financing that entrepreneurs face, its execution had been marred with politics and needed to be reviewed to make it more effective in addressing the funding and other needs of start-ups.
Mr Nelson Amo, Co-Founder/CEO of Innohub Limited, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that although it was a good initiative, it could have been better managed, in terms of access to the fund and also the amount of money given to the start-ups.
He noted that although the seed fund given to beneficiaries could help the start-up to an extent, it left them hanging at a point, making them unable to scale up their work. Mr Amo called on government to find innovative ways of enlarging the fund such as leveraging its credibility to attract private-sector investors and also matching beneficiaries to follow-on funding from other sources.
Another major problem with the YES, is the management of the fund, which most of the entrepreneurs interviewed believed, was too politicised and recommended that government engage qualified professional fund managers and give them metrics to guide them.
“Take the management of the funds from politicians and give to professionals who can manage the funds well”, he advised, adding that this will avoid ‘rent-seeking’ or people taking advantage of the system.
Mr Amo said the challenges in the sector must be addressed holistically to create an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurship, innovation and local investments and prevent duplication of efforts in the sector.
“We need a whole ecosystem, including a technical assistance component of institutions like the YES; delivered by qualified people. There should also be accountability; no free money, beneficiaries should pay back even if is interest-freeµ,” he said.
Mr Amo said in order for governmental initiatives to succeed, it is important to partner with the private sector. “For instance, the one-district, one-factory agenda can work if the government partners with companies in the regions to develop the factories, instead of trying to do it by itself,” he said.
Mr John Armah, CEO of Orios Capital, agreed, that the YES was one of the Mahama-led administration’s key interventions to advance credit to young entrepreneurs and there is the need for the fund to be managed by professionals instead of politicians.
Mr Edward Neequaye, an accountant and the founder of Built Accounting, said allowing the private sector to manage entrepreneurship programmes will reduce the politicisation of the programmes
“YES could have been properly managed by an external implementer. Allowing private sector participation in such programmes would be very great,” he said.
He also urged government to make opportunities open to everyone and be transparent in its dealings, rather than limiting support for entrepreneurs to party sympathisersµ and supporters.
“Private sector support schemes should be based on merit”.
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