THE US based Aspen Institute of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in partnership with Impact Investing Ghana (IIG) hosted West Africa’s leading investors, entrepreneurship support organisations and entrepreneurs to promote better connections and support entrepreneurial ecosystem growth.
At the end of the annual West Africa Regional conference in Accra last week, on the theme Accelerating Small and Growing Business Growth in Africa, Kyle Newell, Managing Director, Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs said: ‘West Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is robust and innovative. The 2022 ANDE West Africa Annual conference strengthened network partnerships and the ANDE West Africa Conference will continue to elevate the entrepreneur’s voice, strengthen connections across Francophone and Anglophone and build solutions to address the needs of the entrepreneurial ecosystem especially in the private sector. Together, we will accelerate the growth of SGBs.’
The 5th annual West Africa regional conference featured interactive sessions focused on cross cutting sector issues such as gender equality, climate and environmental action, decent work, economic growth, focusing resources on earlier stage support for Small Businesses and rebuilding a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem post-Covid.
In a keynote address, Michael Mensah-Baah, Deputy CEO of Development Bank, Ghana said ‘We hope to support everyone and will not limit ourselves to some specific SMEs. We will make sure that once we give out the loans, it will be utilised in a way that supports the growth of the SME so that in the end, we will see transformation of the private sector in Ghana,’ Mensah- Baah assured.
In the opening plenary to discuss improving business environment for African enterprises, Hamdiya Ismaila, Impact Investing Ghana Board Member, said small and growing businesses in Ghana lack access to information. She also recommended that private-sector led enterprise development and technical assistance providers needed to be prioritised by donors and foundations.
This sentiment was strongly reflected by other leading industry speakers including Constance Swaniker (Accents and Arts, DTI, Impact Investing Ghana), Amma Gyampo (ScaleUp Africa, Impact Investing Ghana), investor Baafuor Otu Boateng (I&P) and Jimmy Bettcher (Partners in Food Solutions). They made the case for reducing due diligence costs, improving investment pipeline, supporting private technical assistance service providers with longer term funding essential to the overall performance of the ecosystem including the level of SME growth investments. ‘Entrepreneurship Education and Support is an essential part of the solution mix for our industry. It must be taken more seriously by funders as it would make the work of investors much more efficient,’ they concluded.
Kofi Ofosu Nkansah, Chief Executive Officer of NEIP, explained that the National Entrepreneurship & Innovation Programme (NEIP), the government initiative responsible for providing integrated national support for startups and SMEs, is focused on creating opportunities for the young people through business support initiatives.
The attendees also witnessed a showcase of the UN International Trade Centre’s work building resilient business models, providing linkages to national and international business / investment opportunities and digitalizing traditional MSMEs.
‘Investors and ecosystem players who are really making a difference not just in Ghana but across Africa attended this conference and we at UN ITC are excited to showcase top agriculture and tech SMEs. We are here to help all businesses grow, internationalise them and really look into how we can get the agribusinesses and tech startups to new markets,’ said ITC National Coordinator for Ghana, Isaac Newton- Acquah.
Tenemba Anna Samake, Chair of the Steering Committee of ANDE West Africa, stated that ANDE as an organisation helps enterprise support organizations. She confirmed that development partners such as USAID, FMO, among others, being members of ANDE, are well positioned to have meaningful conversations on the difficulties in West Africa and how best to tackle those challenges.
The two-day in-person conference offered tangible opportunities to network, collaborate, and learn with some of Africa’s foremost leaders, practitioners and visionaries.
The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) is a global network of organisations that propel entrepreneurship in developing economies. ANDE members provide critical financial, educational, and business support services to small and growing businesses (SGBs) based on the conviction that SGBs create jobs, stimulate long-term economic growth, and produce environmental and social benefits.
Impact Investing Ghana is a private-sector led initiative that builds a thriving ecosystem for impact investing in Ghana. The organization represents the country on the Global Steering Group for Impact Investing (GSG), the successor to the Social Impact Investment Taskforce that was established by the G8.