The government is investing GHc84 million in Local Enterprises and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) this year, to dramatically reduce unemployment in the country.
It is also meant to build businesses that will follow the path of business role models such as Zoomlion, UT Holdings, Antrak and Kama among many others.
The Vice President, John Dramani Mahama, who announced this in a speech read on his behalf by the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, at the second UT Bank Ghana Entrepreneur Awards ceremony held in Accra said this was part of government’s efforts at leading the way on how to work with small business holders who had been trained and set up under the LESDEP.
The awards is an initiative of Entrepreneurs Foundation of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Deloitte and Touche.
The awards are to honour outstanding Ghana and foreign resident entrepreneurs in small, medium and large enterprises for their contribution to supporting economic growth and job creation in Ghana.
This year’s event was on the theme “Unleashing Entrepreneurial Capabilities to meet the Global challenges of the 21st century”.
The Vice President said government was helping the LESDEP beneficiaries by awarding them contracts for the free school uniforms.
To this end, “I believe that when government pounds on your door to mentor the graduates of LESDEP, you will be favourably disposed to assisting,” the Vice President said.
He added that government was committed to supporting efforts aimed at mentoring budding entrepreneurs to make their start up journeys less lonely and failure proof.
According to him, special attention would be given to promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship, especially among the youth.
“Some of these young people can become successful entrepreneurs with the right paradigm shift and mentoring from you,” The Vice President challenged CEOs who attended the entrepreneur awards ceremony to go a step further to identify high impact budding entrepreneurs in Ghana to mentor and assist.
He said this would result in a movement that would catalyse long term economic growth of the country.
“Let’s collaborate with the universities and polytechnics to provide entrepreneurship clinics that will whip their interest in self employment, and new venture creation” Mr Mahama said.
The Vice President said that despite the remarkable contributions of other nationals in building businesses and expanding their enterprises to Ghana, it was Ghanaians that would build Ghana just as America was built by Americans and South Korea was built by the Koreans.
He emphasised that the success story of Korea was spurred by the Daewoo’s, the Hyundais, and the Samsung group among others.
Similarly, he added that the miraculous transformation of Singapore into an economic giant was on the back of outstanding entrepreneurial initiatives of individuals who had embraced opportunities and stood up to conquer the challenges in their business environment.
He observed that even though there were risks in running business in Ghana, there were also great rewards and challenges which were becoming more surmountable than some decades ago.
“Ghana has a promising future because some of you entrepreneurs are rising to the occasion and making phenomenal impacts in your field”.
To sustain these achievements, the Vice President urged already established businesses to team up to set up venture capital funds that could give young businesses the needed start up capital to launch themselves properly.
Furthermore, “I would like to encourage our big companies and established organisations to support these young businesses with a percentage of your contracts to give them the needed financial push, experience and exposure”.
In addition, he advised businesses to establish good succession plans and adopt sound business practices that would ensure that businesses traversed several generations just as some companies in India, the Arab land and Asia had survived 3rd and 4th generations.
In all, 30 entrepreneurs won awards under various categories with Jospong Group of Companies adjudged as the overall best entrepreneur for the year 2011.
The Chief Executive of Jospong, Dr Joseph Siaw Agyepong, said they as entrepreneurs must be consulted and involved in solving the challenges facing Ghana as a nation.
“God has blessed Ghana with enough resources. We must form a united company and continue to hold the resources. This is our time and this is our generation, and as we hold ourselves together, Ghana will benefit from the things it has generated”.
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