Professor Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, Vice-Chancellor, University of Ghana, has lauded the Government for taking bold steps to advance entrepreneurship in Ghana by instituting the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
NEIP was set-up by the government with a seed fund of $10 million, to be increased to $100 million through private sector partners.
He urged the leadership of the programme to ensure that the funds serve their appropriate purpose, and that entrepreneurs receive the financial and technical support to build their ventures.
Prof. Owusu gave the commendation during a Town Hall on the Art of Entrepreneurship meeting, which forms part of the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) – Ghana.
The GEW – Ghana, seeks to unleash innovators and job creators who would launch start-ups that would bring ideas to life, drive economic prosperity and job creation.
This year, the GEW – Ghana is being organised under the auspices of the Ministry of Business Development, with support from the British Council, Ghana.
“Let me put on record that entrepreneurship is not a preserve for business school students and graduates; every students or graduates without a doubt could be an entrepreneur regardless of which Department or School he/she belongs to.
“It is the desire of the University of Ghana to encourage all students to be interested in venture creation. To this end, I would like to challenge our students to think about becoming job creators and not job-seekers after school as the way forward to overcoming the unemployment menace and to achieving economic excellence in the country,” the Vice-Chancellor added.
Prof. Owusu said: “On this score, I am advocating the establishment of an ‘Entrepreneurship Prize’ in the University. This, I believe, will promote entrepreneurship competition among all students across the University. The idea is to have, at least five best ideas supported with start-up capital every year”.
He noted that the University would work, with Global Entrepreneurship Network, Ghana and other stakeholder, to realise this laudable dream.
He said that the concept of entrepreneurship in general had gained global currency in the development discourse over the past two decades; adding that across the world, many universities and colleges developed programmes in innovation and entrepreneurship.
He said this global trend had fuelled the recognition that entrepreneurship played a crucial role in economic growth and job creation.
“It is a fact that, Ghana is currently grappling with youth unemployment. Many graduates from our universities, colleges and training schools find it difficult to find jobs; consequently, government is exploring ways of solving the unemployment issues using various initiatives and options,” he said.
“The question that arises therefore, is, could self-employment and entrepreneurship be a possible career path for the teeming unemployed youth of the country? Many would agree that taking the entrepreneurship education path may well present a potential remedy for addressing the unemployment situation,” he said.
He said the prosperity of Ghana strongly depended on the creation of vibrant enterprise culture among its graduates.
Prof Owusu said since education was the greatest single predictor of individual wealth creation and civic participation, colleges needed to create or develop programmes that were applicable to their indigenous settings.
“In view of this, the University of Ghana is taking bold steps to take entrepreneurship to a new height, by dedicating a unit to that discipline, and rolling out programmes in entrepreneurship,” he said.
“It is my wish that sooner than later, this University will be listed among the entrepreneurial universities in the world.”
Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, the Minister of Business Development, assured the Vice Chancellor that the Ministry would support the establishment of the fund.
He called for deeper collaboration between academia and industry; explaining that the deeper the collaboration the better the start-ups, and the better the business guide that could be produced.
“If we can have 10 businesses in Ghana supporting 20 entrepreneurs every year to grow successful Ghanaian business icons, we would have made Ghana a better place,” Mr Awal said.
“Businesses should help at least ten to 20 young businessmen and women, within ten years we are going to have over 100 to 200 strong job system that can compete at least in the West Africa space. Entrepreneurship has to do with mindset, believe it, you can do it,” he added.
He said Ghana had stabilised its energy sector and that it was now exporting power to neighbouring countries.
He said in the near future power prices in the country would come down to empower businesses to grow.