The Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, has lauded the government’s policy of deepening the entrepreneurial culture among the youth with the implementation of various policies, including the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Plan (NEIP).
He, therefore, called for effective strategies and programmes to ensure that the huge investment in the youth to grow their business would not go waste but be guided to flourish into big businesses, as well as create employment opportunities for others.
Speaking at Manhyia during a courtesy call on him by the Minister of Business Development, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, the Asantehene said he believed that with his experience and successes as an entrepreneur and former Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, Mr Awal would ensure that the programme was successful.
Mr Awal was at Manhyia to brief Otumfuo on recent initiatives and interventions by the government, especially the NEIP, to provide the youth with technical and financial support.
The Asantehene noted that instead of providing the youthful entrepreneurs with finances that might go waste, such as happened with previous government financial interventions, it must rather look at providing the youth with technical support, other inputs such as machinery and business training.
He said the young entrepreneurs could be offered some stipends to cater for themselves and some money for rent and other issues till their businesses gained roots and they had the capability to repay the money invested in them for others to also benefit from similar facilities, instead of handing them cash.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu cited instances during the Busia regime when the government initiated a business support programme and provided some individual businesses with financial assistance, only for the government to realise later that the people did not invest in their businesses but spent the money on themselves.
He said the people who were supported claimed that since it was a financial support from the government they thought it was for free so they never believed they were supposed to pay back.
The Asantehene noted with concern the increasing rate at which local industries had collapsed over the years due to the influx of goods from other countries and called for a deliberate government policy to provide ready markets for these local industries that the government was supporting.
He said without such a deliberate policy to create a market for local produce, the youth would produce the goods and services but the importation of cheaper products from abroad would render the local ones useless and eventually kill the industries.
Otumfuo Osei Tutu said Ghana could learn some lessons from the Chinese example, where the Chinese closed their economy, developed themselves before opening up for others to enter their country with goods and services, and suggested that Ghana could use some World Trade Organisation regulations to ensure that local industries were supported to be globally competitive.
Mr Awal lauded Otumfuo for the excellent suggestions on how to ensure the sustenance of local young entrepreneurs and added that most of the suggestions were part of what they were implementing, which included technical and financial support, mentoring and monitoring of the young entrepreneurs.
He explained that the government, under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, had committed over $10 million to support the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Plan and that the amount would be scaled up to $100 million.
He said so far 7,000 youth across the country had been trained and would be provided with technical, financial support, as well as mentors who would ensure that the youth were guided in achieving their set goals in building strong businesses.
Mr Awal said the decision to establish the National Entrepreneurial and Innovation Plan was born out of the fact that over 120,000 Ghanaian youth came out of various institutions each year but less than 10,000 got some form of employment.