The Ministry for Business Development has launched an initiative dubbed ‘Schools Entrepreneurship Initiative’ (SEI) to serve as a solution to graduate unemployment, as well as incubate students at the secondary school level with entrepreneurial skills.
The initiative is aimed at deepening entrepreneurship culture among students, thereby preparing them for the world of work, in line with government’s commitment to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that engenders job creation.
It is expected that SEI, which is under the theme ‘Innovation and Entrepreneurship Education – A Bridge in Realising the Ghana beyond Aid Agenda’, would engage 10,000 students through entrepreneurship training annually.
Launching the initiative in Accra at Achimota Senior High School (SHS), the Minister for Business Development, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, explained that the rationale was to change the current narrative where only two per cent of graduates have the desire to do their business, compared to over 40% in the United Kingdom and over 60% in USA.
He noted that the report of a recent survey which revealed that 68% of graduates in Ghana want to work in the public sector require innovative strategies to change the trend and empower people to do their own business.
He indicated that government aims to impact three million second-cycle and tertiary students with entrepreneurial skills over the next five years.
Out of the number, he said it expects that about 35% would be able to start their businesses with government funding before they leave school.
Over 120,000 students graduate every year from tertiary institutions, with only 10,000 getting jobs in the public sector.
To address this issue, he reiterated that the government is improving the entrepreneurial ecosystem to engender job creation.
“Government is ready to support young entrepreneurs with funding. But before we do that, you need to start generating business ideas and develop your passion. We are convinced that when you do that from the secondary school level, by the time you complete universities, you have your own businesses,” he advised.
The government, he announced, has trained 7,000 young entrepreneurs, and at the end of the month, 1,300 of the number are going to receive funding for their businesses.
West Africa will soon be integrated, and the only way Ghana can compete, he noted, is to produce entrepreneurs who can develop products and services that can compete globally.
As part of the initiative, the ministry, through the SEI, will spearhead a business plan competition among the entrepreneurial clubs in the various senior high schools to foster teamwork, sharing of ideas, research and project work execution.
The reward for winning schools will include trips to key entrepreneurial hubs such as the Silicon Valley in the United States and the Tech City of London.
Deputy Minister for Education, Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum, speaking at the launch, indicated that the purpose of an education is not necessarily to prepare students for a straightjacket, boxed roles in their careers, adding that rather unfortunately, majority of young people, according to research, do not desire a career in entrepreneurship.
According to him, education must be tailored to equip young people with the skills and aptitude to explore their surroundings and identify gaps which they can maximise through innovative thinking, strategic planning and measured risk-taking.
Given that, he said, there was the need to dissuade the mindset that everyone who completes school must necessarily sit in an office.
“A successful, prosperous society is one whose economy is driven by a high sense of entrepreneurship because that is an important way to create wealth,” he stressed.
He added that where entrepreneurship flourishes in an enabling environment, jobs are created, innovation abounds, and wealth increases.
Government, he mentioned, is aiming for a society that would change the mindset that entrepreneurship is for school dropouts, to which he commended the Ministry for Business Development for the initiative that seeks to empower the youth of Ghana to become entrepreneurs.
Dr Adutwum was optimistic SEI competition with the right approach, hard work and commitment will grow to attract wide nationwide attention, just like the National Science and Maths Quiz, which has grown to become one of the most educative programmes in the country.
He seized the opportunity to advise students not to see entrepreneurship ventures as being beneath them no matter the academic laurels they achieve.
SEI Ambassador, Vanessa Aisha Limann, in her brief remarks, urged students to take advantage of the internet to equip themselves.
She advised them not to limit themselves or rely on people, but rather rely on the little that they have to start something.
“Pick an initiative and take bold steps towards developing it into something big,” she added.
Students from Presec-Legon, Accra Girls, St. John’s Grammar, West Africa and Odorgorno Senior High schools were present at the launch.
By John Elliot HAGAN, Accra