DTI-trained SMEs showcase local solution innovations
The first-ever metal art, fabrication and welding exhibition has opened in Accra, with many student-led enterprises showcasing products that range from innovative metal cocoa pod breaker machines to groundnut shell threshers and low-cost adjustable barbecue grills.
Known as an open house, it was introduced to expose the works of four small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and their machines developed to solve local problems through the Design & Technology Institute (DTI) Community Innovation Project.
The project is an acceleration programme designed to provide student-led enterprises with the tools, funding and support they need to bring their business ideas and products to market in agriculture, water and sanitation, plastics recycling, e-waste, and other sectors of the economy.
The programme encourages participants to come up with solutions to problems in their community and identify new areas of business opportunity through coaching and market research.
The SMEs included JEYS Design Innovations, a start-up that manufactures low-cost adjustable barbecue grills, Haki Agro Engineering manufactures cocoa pod breaker machines, Lysarp Field Engineering manufactures groundnut shell threshers and MEKFIX Engineering, another start-up that aims to solve bean harvesting challenges.
Accents and Arts (A&A) Limited, also a metal fabrication company, put together the first annual open house in Accra last Thursday.
The Founder of A&A, Constance Swaniker, said the businesses graduating from the programme had the potential to solve real problems for customers, create jobs and drive growth.
She explained that during the one-year incubation period at A&A, the entrepreneurs were assisted in developing their innovative ideas into viable businesses in the market sphere.
“The determination of the Incubation Hub participants to succeed despite the challenges of starting a business deeply impressed me,” she added.
Ms Swaniker, who is also the Chief Executive Officer at DTI, noted that the institute would continue to support young entrepreneurs “who want to transform Ghana’s economy and accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.
“DTI is on a journey to train and develop learners who are sensitive to the socioeconomic needs of people, communities and businesses, and who are ready and willing to develop innovative solutions to meet such needs in order to generate income for themselves while also creating sustainable jobs for the youth,” she stated.
The Technical Consultant at DTI Innovation Hub, Paul Asiedu, said the open house was also to bring together investors, partners and stakeholders to meet, exchange opportunities and create valuable synergies with the new start-ups.
He said the four SMEs were shortlisted from 17 teams who began a six-month training programme in problem identification, research, ideation, and prototype development in their community.
The winners, who were selected by a panel of judges from industry and academia, were rewarded with $25,000 seed capital to gain extensive business management, financial and operational resources, advisory services and investment opportunities at DTI within a year.
The programme forms part of DTI’s three-year partnership with the Mastercard Foundation under the Young Africa Works “Transforming youth TVET livelihoods for sustainable jobs”.