The dream of some 20 young graduate entrepreneurs to get funding to enhance their businesses became a reality Wednesday as the Ghana Export and Import (Exim) Bank supported them with GHC2 million.
In partnership with the University of Cape Coast (UCC), the maiden edition of the Graduate Enterprise Development Initiative awarded the entrepreneurs with GHC100,000 each.
This follows several weeks of coaching and mentorship after 20 finalists were chosen from a vigorous screening process of 37 applicants.
The finalists were taken through a three-days training program to sharpen their skills and develop their business concepts. They submitted a refined business plan and upon further coaching, mentoring and pitching the 20 finalists were chosen for the awards ceremony.
Speaking at the award ceremony at the Alisa Hotel in Accra, the Acting Chief Executive Officer of the Bank, Dr Baffour Osei said they were excited to have carried out an idea they started pursuing in 2015.
"After the launch of the Youth Enterprise Support (YES) program, the President himself said can you put together a program which will give support directly to graduates? It goes to show creating an enabling environment in government's initiative to support fresh graduates from the universities," he said.
Dr Osei said the initiative is to get the brains of the young graduates explore ideas when they are full of energy for the leg work to get themselves something productive to do.
"This program is to say there is room for the graduates to use your brains and follow the ideas they have to make themselves. The graduates who come out can get themselves together into groups and we are ready to support you," he said.
He stressed that helping these graduates have a multiplier effect as they would employ other graduates.
Dr Osei said the Bank through it Monitoring and Evaluation would to ensure that Exim Bank follows up on the progress of the awardees so they put the monies to good use.
He stressed that the Bank would as well help those who did not make the final list to find alternative funds that the Bank is looking forward to.
He disclosed that the World Bank as well as the African Development Bank are intrigued by the results of the initiative.
"The World Bank wants to partner us to push it further while the African Development Bank are also studying it so they can replicate it across the continent," he added.
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 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 to 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.
Those awarded are Juga Farms, Vegerfresh Farms Limited, Titann Ventures, Yarda Trust Company Limited, Sule Yahaya Enterprise, Modern Grasscutter Company Limited, Nawubil Limited, Nouveau Foods Ghana Limited, and E90 Ghana.
Also included are PK Farms, Premor Limited, Sparkxx Foods and Beverages Limited, Sustanable Agro Limited, Isshad Plus Enterprise, Boasah Agricultural Center, Odera Ventures and Unique Quality Product Enterprise and DelChris Ventures.