The US based Aspen Institute of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) in partnership with Impact Investing Ghana (IIG) hosted West Africa’s leading Investors, Entrepreneurship Support Organizations and Entrepreneurs to promote better connections and to further support the entrepreneurial ecosystem growth.
At the end of the annual West Africa Regional conference in Accra, 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, Mr. 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”, Mr. Mensah- Baah assured.
In the opening plenary to discuss improving the business environment for African enterprises, Hamdiya Ismaila, Impact Investing Ghana Board Member, mentioned that 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 prioritized by donors and foundations.
This sentiment was strongly reflected by other leading industry insiders including Constance Swaniker (Accents and Arts, DTI), Amma Gyampo (ScaleUp Africa), investor Baafuor Otu Boateng (I&P) and Jimmy Bettcher (Partners in Food Solutions) who made the case for reducing due diligence costs, improving investment pipeline, supporting technical assistance providers with longer term resources essential to the performance of the ecosystem.
Mr. Kofi Ofosu Nkansah, Chief Executive Officer of NEIP, explained that the National Entrepreneurship & Innovation Program (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, internationalize 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 organization 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.