Over the course of the two-day Ghana Youth Entrepreneurship Convention, 180 young entrepreneurs, aspiring entrepreneurs and special guests came together over a shared interest in business and entrepreneurship. The Convention brought together young entrepreneurs from a variety of different sectors and from across the country, some coming from as far as the Ye! Chapter in Bolgatanga in the upper eastern region to attend. The event was organized by Child and Youth Finance International’s Ye! initiative and the Youth Business Network Foundation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and the Player’s of the People’s Postcode Lottery, and with support from the Ministry of Business Development, the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan and the National Youth Authority.

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The Ghana Youth Entrepreneurship Convention was unique in that it was a purely youth focused event, which gave youth in Ghana a platform to share their stories and inspire their peers. Various sessions were held where attendees learned from and posed questions to top investors, took part in panel discussions with national authorities and entrepreneurs and attended various trainings and workshops focusing on leadership, business and financial management. The sessions offered concrete takeaways and actionable insights for young entrepreneurs to use.

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One of the highlights of the first day was an all youth panel showcasing homegrown success stories. The panel was moderated by Prince Bonney, CEO of ICode Hub. Panelists included:

  1. Kyerewa Atta-Krah, Founder of April Rust and The Bold Circle
  2. Yaganoma Baatuolkuu, Founder and Managing Director of Wanjo Africa
  3. Bernard Oduro Takyi, Founder & CEO of Omanbapa Ghana Ltd, Regional Coordinator, CAYE West Africa
  4. Isaac Yeboah Filson, Founder & CEO of Play Africa

The discussion revolved around the need for preparation, research and ingenuity when starting up. As Bernard Oduro Takyi, Founder of Omanbapa Ghana Ltd. stated, “Business is not for the faint of heart. Being an entrepreneur is tough, and you never know what will happen next, so you must be prepared.” Panelists also shared the steps they took to get to their enterprises to where they are at today and some of the biggest hardships they faced along their journeys. They also offered insights to the audience about what to expect along their entrepreneurial journey and how to prepare.

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Youth attendees then took part in a q&a session with investors, John Armah, CEO of Orios Group and Forbes 30 under 30 entrepreneur in 2016, and Renald Appiah, Senior Investment Associate with Wangara Green Venture. Each shared valuable tips on how to make your enterprise investor ready and what investors are looking for. John Armah told the audience, “This year is a good year to be in business. Money is coming to Ghana this year,” offering a hot take to youth entrepreneurs in attendance.

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The afternoon featured a training by Deloitte, International Tax and Accounting experts operating globally. The session featured concrete insights and steps for the youth attendees to get their finances in line and their taxes prepared to avoid any legal issues.

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The final session of the afternoon featured a training by GIZ partner, Inspired Leaders Network. Led by the passionate Professor Samuel Lartey, this session focused on leadership and management and inspired the youth to become strong team leaders to ensure greater team moral, cohesion and efficiency.

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The morning of day two featured a workshop by African Aurora Business Network a Mastercard Foundation partner and leading training organization in Ghana. The workshop was well received by the entrepreneurs who worked in groups to collaborate on the various activities.

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This was followed by q&a with two young women entrepreneurs - Yaganoma Baatuolkuu, Founder and Managing Director of Wanjo Africa, and Henrietta Adjetey, Founder and CEO of Brand E Bags. The session focused on branding and innovation. Some key takeaways included continually reworking and reproducing their products to make sure the best possible product is on the market and the importance of thinking 5-10 years down the line when branding your enterprise to allow for growth in portfolio of products or services on offer.

After lunch, a panel of key players for youth entrepreneurship discussed how to create a stronger ecosystem for youth entrepreneurs. Mumuni Sulemana, Progammes and Operations Director at the National Youth Authority (NYA), under the auspice of the Ministry of Youth and Sport, stated that the NYA is committed to champion the needs of youth entrepreneurs to help them succeed and grow. To this end the he stated, “the NYA is releasing a draft national strategy document on entrepreneurship.” These statements were followed by Michael Darko, Managing Partner at PhoenixAfrica Capital Management Ltd, Board Member of the National Board for Small Scale Industries, who expressed that, “what Ghana needs is a national MSME policy to enhance the ecosystem and ensure consistency across ministries.” Panelists also made recommendations on how the youth and the government could collaborate to create a stronger ecosystem.

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The last training of the day focused on leadership and was presented by the Youth Empowerment Synergy (YES) Ghana and its Training and Capacity Building Manager, Mr. Eric Saforo. He stressed the importance of civil engagement and collaboration in leadership, leveraging the social change model of leadership to expand the definition.

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The day was closed by the head of Business Development for Empretec Ghana, Mr. Jacob K. Ganye who stated that seeing so many young men and women in attendance enterprising, driving change and seeking out knowledge, he was optimistic for the future of his country.

The Ghana Youth Entrepreneurship Convention demonstrated the need for enhancing dialogue between stakeholders and of course, the youth, to create a stronger ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Ghana. The young entrepreneurs called for easier access to information and resources offered by the government and a greater number of collaborative efforts to spur investment, create a healthier ecosystem, and foster the growth of youth-led enterprises. It was clear that by the end of the two-day convention entrepreneurs had really enjoyed the event snapping photos and networking long after the day’s sessions had culminated.

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To see all the photos, check out the Ye! Community Facebook page.

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