President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo has charged young Ghanaian entrepreneurs to take advantage of the huge market that has been created by the coming in force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to engender jobs and wealth.
Addressing attendees at the finals of season two (2) of the Presidential Pitch Initiative under the theme; Creating an Entrepreneurial Climate to Support Young Businesses, President Akufo-Addo said, “The coming into effect of the African Continent Free Trade Area has made the continent a single market, duty-free, quota-free trading block with a total population of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of some three (3) trillion United States dollars.”
“But the benefits of the common market will not come automatically. Young entrepreneurs like you must seize the opportunity and take advantage of the huge market to engender jobs and wealth,” President Akufo Addo said.
Why the Presidential Pitch
Turning his attention on the Presidential Pitch, President Akufo-Addo noted that annually, it is estimated that two hundred and fifty thousand (250,000.00) young men and women are thrown out onto the job market from the country’s educational institutions. The formal sector he says is currently only able to absorb some 2% with the remaining 98% either looking for jobs in the informal sector or becoming unemployed.
“The Presidential Pitch seeks to deepen entrepreneurial passion amongst Ghanaian youth through the incubation of business ideas into innovative and enterprising business opportunities,” the President stated.
The Contestants and Awards
Ten (10) contestants during the ceremony pitched their rich ideas when they took turns to deliver a three (3) minute presentation each to catch the attention of a panel of four judges and the President of the Republic. The panel comprising Dzigbordi Dosoo, CEO of Allure Africa; Gwyneth Gyimah Addo, CEO of Hair Senta; Alex Bram, CEO of Hubtel and Christian Asante, CEO of Casantey Business Solutions Group, gave first place to Emily Otoo-Quaryson and Matilda Sampong for their innovative idea of using banana fibre to produce sanitary pads. The two young ladies when home with a GHS60,000.00 grant and a personal contribution of GHS40,000.00 from President Akufo Addo, bringing their total award to GHS 100,000.00.
Akwasi Sarpong who pitched in the food and nutrition category won the second prize and took home GHS 40,000.00 and Kwaku Adjei placed third and won a cash prize of GHS 35,000.00. The fourth (4th) to tenth (10th) place contestants all received take-home cash prizes of GHS25,000.00 each to support their various business ideas.
The Presidential Pitch
The Presidential Pitch is a project designed and organised by the Ministry of Business Development to offer young Ghanaian entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 the opportunity to market their business ideas and get financial assistance to implement those ideas. The project is in line with the President’s vision to assist young entrepreneurs to nurture their business ideas and improve livelihoods. The pitch usually involves 200 competitors and through the competition, they are scaled down to 10 finalists. The GH¢25,000.00 to GH¢60,000.00 seed money given to the winners is a grant and not a loan. The ideas presented by the contestants must exhibit four characteristics: feasibility, innovation, scalability and impact.