An 18-year-old female entrepreneur, Ms Vanessa Aisha Limann, yesterday emerged the winner of the maiden Presidential Pitch and took home a GH¢ 50,000 investment package.
In addition, Miss Limann was given GH¢ 25,000 personal donation by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo who said he was touched by her prowess at a young of age of 18 and also by her presentation.
The winner, who processes food and packages it in Gwollu in the Sissala District in the Upper West Region, beat nine others who presented their ideas and answered questions before a panel of judges, in the presence of the President, ministers of state and members of the Diplomatic Corps, at the Presidential Pitch event in Accra.
The Presidential Pitch is a project designed and organised by the Ministry of Business Development to offer young Ghanaian entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 the opportunity to market their business ideas and get financial assistance to implement those ideas.
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The project is in line with the President’s vision to assist young entrepreneurs to nurture their business ideas and improve livelihoods. It involved 200 competitors who were scaled down to 10 finalists.
The GH¢50,000 is expected to be paid back in three years.
The fourth to the 10th competitors received GH¢30,000 each, while the second and the third received GH¢45,000 and GH¢40,000, respectively.
The ideas presented must exhibit four characteristics — feasibility, innovativeness, scalability and impactful.
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Addressing the participants, the President gave an assurance that the government would continue to create the environment for enterprising and innovative ideas of the youth to develop into great industries in the future.
He said he was of the firm belief that the fastest way to deal with the challenges confronting the economy and the alarming rate of unemployment was the use of technology, entrepreneurship and business.
He said every great invention, such as the aeroplane by the Wrights brothers, Facebook and Google which had become multi-billion industries, commenced with ideas of individuals.
President AKufo-Addo and Dr Ibrahim Awal with the 10 start-up entrepreneurs
Unfortunately, he said, Ghana had not done well in incubating ideas and developing them into thriving companies, adding that the government was committed to halting such a trend.
He said the pitching was one of the steps by the Ministry of Business Development to build and sustain industries in Ghana, adding that another strategy by the government to promote businesses and innovation was the establishment of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovative Programme (NEIP) with an initial start-up capital of $10 million for 500 young entrepreneurs.
The President said the business idea competition was just one of the numerous ideas by the Ministry of Business Development to realise the vision of an entrepreneurial revolution.
He said all those initiatives were in tandem with the long-held philosophy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the primacy of the private sector in the development of the economy was fundamental.
The Minister of Business Development, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, said the young women and men were competing with their various business ideas to seek funding to expand their businesses and were doing that through an eco-system established by the ministry where young people were being encouraged to set up businesses.
He said currently government policies had made Ghana a fertile ground for attracting investors, hence the need to grow local businesses that could have the muscle to compete with investors.
He said with the expansion of the African economy and the establishment of the Africa Free Trade Zone, Ghana could only benefit from such an integrated African market if it had innovation-driven entrepreneurs who could take advantage of the system and the environment.
The minister advised the young entrepreneurs to persevere and not shy away from the least challenge on their journey of building a great industry.