The enormity of Ghana`s graduate unemployment rate is not a figment of an individual`s imagination. With literally several thousands of students graduating annually from the nations tertiary institutions, it has been repeatedly noted by analysts that a failure to tackle the unemployment challenge bedeviling this nation will spell doom. Some social commentators have said that Ghana is sitting on a time bomb, unless government takes the necessary measures to address the unemployment challenge. Sadly, the unemployment situation appears to have worsened this year especially so because of the many job losses that have occasioned the collapse of seven banks and other struggling businesses including some media houses.
In the midst of the doom and gloom, it is gratifying when one becomes privy of attempts by government, however minimal it may be to roll out plans and policies that will potentially help address the unemployment challenge the nation is grappling with. Many experts are agreed that entrepreneurship is a critical factor when it comes to dealing with the challenge of unemployment and that governments must necessarily create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.
Student Entrepreneurship Initiative (SEI)
Credible reports indicate that government is making some strides in this direction particularly through the Ministry of Business Development. The ministry has rolled out a couple of initiatives that have resulted in the training of many young people to manage businesses and the provision of funding for some individuals.
September 14, 2018, Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in the company of the Minister of Business Development Alhaji Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal launched the Student Entrepreneurship Initiative (SEI) at Ghana Secondary School, Tamale. It is important to note that several other entrepreneurial initiatives have been rolled out, notable among them being National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
The newly launched SEI appears to be a novelty, especially so since it targets students in the Senior High School and should not only be commended and but supported to ensure effective implementation for the desired outcomes. During the occasion of the launch, Dr. Bawumia encouraged the youth to venture into entrepreneurship so as to ensure job creation and reduction in graduate unemployment rates. He assured all gathered of government`s resolve to provide the enabling environment and some incentives to ensure that businesses these young people establish are given a fair opportunity to thrive.
Under this project that seeks to boost job creation among young people through entrepreneurship, the Ministry of Business Development will train, equip and challenge at least 10,000 students on an annual basis to think entrepreneurship and engage two million students over the next five years.
Dr. Bawumia stated: “We are convinced that if teenagers are introduced to thinking about business concepts and the right management structure to businesses, they can expand and hone their ideas and begin to execute those ideas even before they complete their tertiary education.”
“I encourage you students to take advantage of the Student Entrepreneurship Initiative to come up with business ideas and be assured that the Government would support you to realise your dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs,” the Vice President further noted.
On his part, the Minister for Business Development admonished students gathered to take advantage of the various programmes being rolled out by the Ministry to develop their entrepreneurial skills and take control of their destinies.
“When students are exposed to business concepts and plans at an early age, there is a tendency for them to think entrepreneurial and begin to develop projects and services while in school. We aim to help you on this journey, and hope that in a few years Ghana can also boast of world renowned entrepreneurs,” he said.
A significant component of SEI will be a business plan competition that will set out what businesses entrepreneurial clubs established in SHSs want to pursue. The grand finale of the competition is scheduled to be held in Accra early next year where students of the various schools will present their ideas to a special jury. Winners will then be moved around the world to experience the audacity of entrepreneurship and to understand the real world of business.
Presidential Business Support Programme (PBSP)
Yet another initiative by government that ought to be commended is the funds it provides some business start-ups. On September 16, 2018, government reportedly disbursed a total of Gh¢10 million to 260 young entrepreneurs in the north to help boost their businesses and build the capacity of the entrepreneurs to help play a leading role in creating jobs for the transformation of the economy and was made available through the Presidential Business Support Programme (PBSP) initiative themed: “Empowering Ghanaian Businesses.”
The programme was spearheaded by the Northern Regional Coordinating Council in partnership with the Ministry of Business Development and attended by the Ministry of Energy, Metropolitan and Municipal Chief Executives (MMDCEs), Religious and Traditional leaders and other stakeholders.
Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, presenting the premium business support to the beneficiaries noted that the PBSP was intended to provide young entrepreneurs with ‘business development services, start-up incubators and funding as well as technical support to enable them grow and become successful.’
Dr. Bawumia disclosed that out of the over 1,000 micro, small and medium enterprises in the three northern regions who applied, 260 people were competitively selected through the recommendation of six private incubation houses in a ‘transparent efficient and equitable manner.’ He encouraged the beneficiaries to be global in their thinking and outlook rather than being content with merely marketing their products and businesses only in Ghana.
Dr. Bawumia revealed the beneficiaries were to receive ‘continuous training and capacity building, mentorship and business advisory services, free accounting services, access to business networking opportunities as well as access to seed capitals ranging from Gh¢5,000.00 to Gh¢100,000.00 per business at an interest rate of 10 per cent.’
He stated: “Key among the businesses are agribusiness and agro-processing, smock weaving, Information Communication Technology (ICT), animal and livestock rearing, food and beverages, fashion and clothing among others”.
Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed Awal urged all entrepreneurs to be very innovative and research more to improve on their businesses and affirmed that as part of the Ministry`s programmes they would a women support programme will be launched by close of this year.
Programmes such as those rolled out by the government through the Ministry of Business Development should be sustained, carefully monitored and expanded over time. Deliberate efforts should be made to insulate these initiatives from partisan politics and bais. This will in the long run be a significant contribution to addressing the unemployment challenges that has become all too common. www.ghanatalksbusiness.com encourages beneficiaries to take advantage of these opportunities given them and make the most of them for the common good of the citizenry.