President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Monday noted that the Coronavirus pandemic has presented numerous opportunities that can be nurtured to build a stronger, self-reliant and resilient Ghanaian economy.
He pointed out that the pandemic was a wakeup call for economies to push for self-reliance, as the raging disease had created dysfunction across the world and exposed the weakness of the global supply chain.
“The COVID pandemic has demonstrated that when you are over-reliant on global supply chains when something like that happens you are truly exposed,” he said, adding that Ghana must learn from and work hard to wean itself off that situation.
The President was speaking at a ceremony to officially present cash prices to winners of the third season of the Presidential Pitch programme at the Jubilee House, Accra.
The winners, numbering 20, were given a total of GH¢1 million to support their start-ups and small businesses.
The Presidential Pitch programme, an initiative of the Business Development Ministry, is a competition of business concepts where young persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years, vie for government support by presenting innovative, impactful, scalable and viable business ideas and plans.
The 20 young entrepreneurs were shortlisted from the 100 entries received across the country.
Noting the negative economic impact that the Coronavirus pandemic had exerted on the world economy, President Akufo-Addo said withstanding those shocks called for the aggressive promotion of innovative and viable economic entities to propel the country out of the long term effects of the disease.
He cited the example where many countries were thrown out of businesses when China closed its borders due to the pandemic, stressing the need for Ghanaian businesses to ensure that the country does not rely on the global supply chain for survival to forestall any hurt to the economy from such pandemic.
“We cannot afford to let that happen again. We have now to do things for ourselves and therefore, you who are driving new ideas become that much more important and significant for us,” he told the young entrepreneurs at the gathering.
“We are witnesses of how the COVID has impacted negatively on businesses, on economies, not just on our continent but across the entire globe… but some say we just not have to come out of it, but when we come out of it, it is going to be the stage for you.
“It is the quality of the ideas, your drive and dynamism that is going to determine the world after COVID,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo was upbeat that the development of viable entrepreneurship among the youth was the panacea to mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic and creating a self-reliant and resilient economy post-COVID-19.
He urged young entrepreneurs to play a pivotal role in the recovery of the economy post-COVID-19 and to take advantage of the opportunities offered them by the pandemic to become global players.
“I want you to see yourselves first as Ghanaian entrepreneurs but apart from being Ghanaian entrepreneurs, there is a huge world out there which you must also do your best to conquer…so, you should see yourselves both as Ghanaian entrepreneurs and as global entrepreneurs.
“And that is why you have been selected as the Presidential pitch winners because you have new ideas and the whole principle should be innovation, innovation, innovation,” he said.
Dr Ibrahim Awal, the Business Development minister was full of praise for the President’s commitment to the development of entrepreneurship in the country.
He disclosed the initiative (Presidential Pitch Programme) had captured the interest of some countries, who were keen to replicate it in their nations.
The minister was optimistic that due to government’s proficient approach to handling the pandemic, the country’s economy would bounce back after the episode.
He called on young entrepreneurs make their innovative ideas count in the collective effort to build a better Ghana.
Mr Douglas Akoglo, a 26-year-old entrepreneur from Bongo in the Upper East Region, whose pitch on the conversion of shea butter waste into coal, shampoo and anti-dandruff products, won him the first prize, he received GH¢70,000 and an additional personal cash reward of GH¢30,000 from the President.
He would also undertake a fully funded work-study programme outside Ghana.
The second prize winner, Theophilus Dumenyo, presented a business plan for the production of eco-friendly mosquito repellant. He was given GH¢60,000.
The third prize went to Cornelius Nyobator whose business idea on the production of organic pesticide won him GH¢50,000 The rest of the winners received between GH¢30,000 and GH¢45,000 each.
They would also have the opportunity to be attached to reputable Ghanaian businesses on a work-study programme.
All the winners were to receive free mentorship, coaching, and business advisory services over the next three years.
In the first two seasons of the competition, 20 young entrepreneurs were also awarded cash prizes.