Finance Minister, Honorable Ken Ofori-Atta has completed a series of engagements aimed at inspiring young people across the country to venture into entrepreneurship.
The tour, known as the Springboard Dialogues, which took him to Tamale in the northern belt, Sunyani in the middle belt and Accra in the southern belt, also afforded him the opportunity to meet young entrepreneurs and final year entrepreneurship students and listen to their concerns.
Accompanying the minister in the sessions were officials of various agencies that provide financial, technical and mentoring support to small businesses including the Ghana Enterprises Agency (formerly NBSSI), National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) and the Ghana Cares (Obaatanpa) Programme.
Speaking on the final leg in Accra, an obviously impressed Mr. Ofori-Atta commended young people who had set up start-up ventures and who were employing others in the process. “I left the two engagements in Tamale and Sunyani with a renewed sense of hope in our youth.”
“It has been a great opportunity for me to reconnect with what I call my first love: mentoring young people and challenging them to live a life of purpose, based on strong ethics and optimism in the midst of challenging circumstances”, Mr Ofori-Atta stated.
The minister commended Albert and Comfort Ocran, organizers of the Springboard Road Shows and Youth Dialogues for their consistency in youth development over the past 15 years. He was particularly impressed with the stories shared by previous participants of the Springboard Road Show at the interactions.
Notably impressive was the story of Michael Amoah, a Hospitality Management Professional who previously sold yogurt in the streets of Kumasi for 11 years after dropping out of junior high school but who was inspired by Springboard to resume his education all the way to the postgraduate level. Also commendable was the story of Francis Adu who was into rice, pepper and poultry farming in Navrongo in the Upper West Region.
The minister interacted with Obed Korang-Manson whose entrepreneurial spirit and vision was awakened during Springboard and took steps to establish a fast growing print business in Sunyani that currently employs 14 people, Evelyn Affreh who was mentored to pursue a profession in environmental sustainability and finally Belinda Baaba Baidoo Baidoo who ventured into an art and fashion business after being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
While admitting that entrepreneurship was not an easy journey, he encouraged the young people present and those listening online that it was the only way forward. “We have a situation where 71% of the Ghanaian population is under 35. According to the World Bank, at least 109,000 students graduate from tertiary institutions in Ghana each year. Each one of these graduates needs jobs that government is not in a position to directly provide.”
“The story of my own childhood and my youth which I shared with the youth in these regions is evidence of what God’s grace, destiny, opportunities and a can-do spirit can achieve”, Mr Ofori-Atta concluded.