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October 5-6 has seen a gathering which tries to be a first step in ensuring an entrepreneurial future for Ghana. More than 100 participants from civil society, academia, business and politics took part in the first ever Ghana Hubs Annual Gathering 2018.
Hubs are physical spaces that provide skills, funding and networks, mostly for young entrepreneurs and start-ups. Hubs aim to facilitate access to key resources, thereby improving the chances of entrepreneurial success. The recently founded Ghana Tech and Business Hubs Network (TBHNG) elevates the idea to the next level: While individual entrepreneurs are organized in regional Hubs, a network is formed to organize the Hubs themselves. Benefits are plenty. The Hubs Network can for example make sure work in the Hubs complies to certain standards, it can provide Hubs with crucial information and connect different Hubs, using their understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape
The Network has been set up and quite a number of Hubs is active in the different regions of the country. Until this gathering though, there has never been a formal meeting to discuss the future strategy of the Network. To achieve that within a two-day program, the event which was funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation Ghana, had to have a tight schedule. After the participants – some of them travelling for rather long distances to attend – had arrived at the Tangpalace Hotel in Accra on October 5, they were warmly welcomed by Jorge Appiah, the Network's Chairman, and
Burkhardt Hellemann, Resident Representative of KAS Ghana. The opening remarks stressed the importance of the gathering, highlighting the need for entrepreneurial, self-determined spirit in Ghana. It was generally agreed that the country's private sector will have to play a central role in shaping Ghana's economic future. In other words: Why wait for politicians to fix things for us? We can do it ourselves! Let's get going now.
After key participants had presented their Hubs and activities, panel discussions were held. These panels, consisting of the most successful members of the various Hubs, engaged in fruitful and lively debate about ideas of best-practice and their very own experiences with different Hubs across the country. The discussions made clear that while some Hubs are already developed quite far, others are still struggling. Common complaints about the different Hubs included lack of resources, unavailability of mentors and administrative issues, such as the Hubs closing down too early in the
evening. Nonetheless, most young entrepreneurs expressed their being grateful for getting support from Hubs, highlighting the importance of the latter in constructing creative environments, reducing the risk of failure and allowing for the building of networks.
The panels were only part of the action though. John Kumah, CEO at NEIP (National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan), an initiative founded by the current Ghanaian Government to promote start-ups and small businesses, assured governmental support in order to help young Ghanaians in contributing to their country's economic development.
Augustine Blay, Executive Secretary at the Vice President's Office, held an enthusiastic speech on the topic of how to overcome insecurities and challenges as a young entrepreneur in Ghana. Ghana, so Mr. Blay, is naturally a creative environment for business. As people struggle economically, they have to constantly look out for business opportunities and cannot run away from challenges. Day two of the gathering consisted of reviewing the Hub Network's constitution, discussing the role the Network has to play for a stronger Ghanaian economy and the drafting of a strategy plan for
2018 and beyond. Towards the end of the gathering, several new entrepreneurs and Network
activists got elected into the Network's executive board.
The gathering found an end in late afternoon on October 6 with a broad consensus: A lot of work is still to be done in order to make the Hub Network effective in shaping Ghana's entrepreneurial landscape. But the gathering was a
definite first step into the right direction.
Niklas Fierlbeck, KAS intern