As part of the implementation of the Graduate Enterprise Development Initiative (GEDI) project, a ceremony has been held at Alisa Hotel in Accra to award 20 young graduate entrepreneurs with a 100,000 Ghana Cedis each to enhance their businesses. In 2015, as a complement to the Youth Enterprise Support (YES) programme, the Export Trade, Agricultural and Industrial Development Fund (EDAIF) (now EXIM Bank Ghana) introduced GEDI to support graduates between the ages of 18 and 35 to set up and manage new enterprises in non-traditional export trade and agro-based processing to feed local industry. This initiative is premised on the fact that graduates have the potential of becoming successful entrepreneurs, if given the needed support. In this light, EXIM Bank Ghana engaged the services of the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy (DRIC) of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) as an implementing partner.
Speaking at the award ceremony, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Dr. Baffour Osei, reported that they were excited to have carried out an idea they started pursuing.
He stressed on the multiplier effects of the award in providing employment to other graduates. Dr. Osei assured the audience that the Bank, through its Monitoring and Evaluation Department, would follow up on the progress of the awardees to ensure that the money given them is put to good use.
Chairman of the Board of the Bank, Professor Richard Bani who also chaired the ceremony said it is not only the big companies that contribute to the economy emphasising small scale companies contribute over $27 million to U.S. economy yearly.
“The Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) are generating more to the economy in Ghana too because government alone cannot employ everyone. These young graduates develop innovative products and services for people to patronise," he said.
He gave an example how four graduates from the University of Ghana launched the ‘Asoriba’ software after school to help churches with their tithes and networking among members. Prof Bani challenged the award winners to improve their products to enable them to get a ready market for their products both locally and on the international market.
He also advised them to be careful about standard and make sure they work with the Ghana Standard Authority and Food and Drugs Authority so they meet the international market quality.
The Lead Consultant for the GEDI project, Prof. Rosemond Boohene (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprise Development [CESED] at UCC) reiterated that UCC had worked closely with EXIM Bank and the GEDI participants at each stage of the project implementation, through training, mentoring, coaching and final selection of the award winners. Prof. Boohene recounted the processes that the project had undergone. She indicated that an advert was placed in the national dailies (Daily Graphic and Ghanaian Times) and 75 applications were received from all the ten administrative regions of Ghana. According to her, all the participants were trained, coached and mentored to refine and improve their business plans. Subsequently, 37 business plans were shortlisted to conduct feasibility studies and pitch their business ideas for the grants. Appearing before an 11-member panel, 20 businesses were further selected.
Prof. Boohene used the opportunity to congratulate the finalists and award winners and assured them of the University’s confidence in their success. “We cherish the hope that the vigorous processes that we have taken you through in the past six months, have adequately prepared you to manage your businesses. We would continue to provide support for you as you implement your respective projects”. Prof Boohene added that they would continue to liaise with the other 17 finalists to get alternative funding opportunities for their businesses. She thanked EXIM Bank for the opportunity.
DelChris Ventures, one of the award winning businesses, on behalf of the awardees, thanked UCC and EXIM Bank for the support and pledged to live up to expectations.
The team from UCC present at the ceremony included Dr. Daniel Agyapong and Mr. Dominic Owusu of the Department of Marketing and Supply Chain Management, Dr. William Ghartey (Department of Agric. Economics and Extension), Dr. Ernest Abano (Department of Agriculture Engineering), Dr. Grace Vandapuiye (Department of Crop Science), Mr. Isaac Nketsiah (Directorate of Research, Innovation and Consultancy), Mr. Dennis Penu (IDS) and Mr. Phanuel Wunu (Department of Finance).
The award winning business are Juga Farms, Vegerfresh Farms Limited, Titann Ventures, Yarda Trust Company Limited, Sule Yahaya Enterprise, Modern Grasscutter Company Limited, Nawubil Limited, Babaoo Foods Limited, Nouveau Foods Ghana Limited and E90 Ghana.
Also included are PK Farms, Premor Limited, Sparkxx Foods and Beverages Limited, Sustainable Agro Limited, Isshad Plus Enterprise, Basoah Agricultural Centre, Billion Gates Ventures, Odera Ventures, Unique Quality Product Enterprise and DelChris Ventures.