WASEN Ghana Mentorship Program

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Mentorship is a significant part of WASEN Ghana’s program.

WASEN Ghana has established a mentoring and support unit to provide ongoing support to applicants who have started a new business or who are growing an existing one. This will include matching applicants with prominent people in society amongst others, business leaders, corporate volunteerism, peer mentoring, clubs and societies, churches, community structures and mature members of the community.

 About the service

Mentors, each is an experienced business / accomplished person who have decided they want to give something back and work with the next generation of entrepreneurs.

This will be an agreement between two people sharing experiences and expertise to help with reflection, decision-making, and action to improve personal growth and professional development.

Mentoring advisors will help applicants to identify their growth plans and what they want to achieve personally from the mentoring. Based on this, WASEN Ghana will then match applicant with a mentor who can really add value, whiles monitoring applicant progress.

 What can a Mentor do for an applicant?

People who have been mentored have an increased likelihood of career success. Mentors can provide an independent perspective on businesses, acting as a sounding board for new ideas. They can work with applicants to set new goals, and clarify the direction applicant’s business is taking. They can also help to develop new skills and expertise, and prepare applicant for times of change.

 Interested in becoming a mentor?

As a mentor you will be part of WASEN Ghana’s Business Growth Hub mentors team. WASEN Ghana will arrange regular informal meetings for this group featuring guest speakers, opportunities to network and sharing experiences with your fellow mentors and exploring more ways of helping your mentees.

Mentoring can be a great way for you to develop too, honing skills such as supporting others, listening, giving feedback, and adapting your leadership style. It can also increase job satisfaction and raise your visibility within your own organisation and the business world at large.

 

 

 

Y20 Australia 2014 Delegates’ Declaration: A Communiqué to G20 Leaders (Full Report)

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Y20 Australia 2014 Delegates’ Declaration

“We need to create digital communities to enable knowledge sharing amongst young people in Europe and Africa” – Isaac Aggrey, WASEN Ghana

There are about 20 policy recommendations proposed by the Y20 to the G20 leaders with Support for Youth Entrepreneurship, Improve Labour Mobility, Protect Youth Jobs and Promote Decent Employment highlighted as top priority policy recommended actions. The Taskforce recognizes the outstanding efforts of the Y20 delegates and will support them to achieve the objectives proposed in the declaration.

The Youth 20 (Y20) is the official youth engagement group of the G20 and is an essential component of the Australian Government’s engagement of stakeholders with the G20 agenda.

“The risk of a “lost generation” of young people who are not able to find meaningful employment opportunities looms large and the Y20 provides an opportunity to engage with G20 Leaders on this very important issue” – Holly Ransom, 2014 Chair of Y20.

Much of the responsibility for enhancing the G20’s youth engagement strategy rests mainly with the 2014 Y20 Planning Group and the delegates to the 2014 Y20 Summit, who worked first online and then collectively in Sydney to draft key recommendations and a communiqué around the three Y20 themes for 2014: growth and jobs creation, global mobility and sustainable development.

This context underpins both the theme and the focus of this year’s 2014 Youth 20 Summit: “Engaging the present, shaping the future”. It reflects a desire for this year’s G20 to both provide the opportunity for young people to inform the Leaders’ decision-making on current global issues, and to coordinate youth engagement and action to drive future-focused change.

The goals for this year’s Y20 are two-fold:

  1. To place youth unemployment on the G20 Leaders’ agenda and get an agreement to a bold action plan to tackle the issue, and;
  2. To grow the legitimacy, reach and impact of the Y20 summit, and better integrate the voice of today’s youth into the existing G20 dialogue.

This will be achieved by being more succinct and pragmatic in the Y20 recommendations to Leaders, and by building greater traction with G20’s other engagement teams, working groups and taskforces.

In meeting the first challenge, the Y20 has restructured the policy development process to generate two documents at the end of the Y20 summit: a communiqué encompassing the consensus of ideas from Y20 delegates and a new document: a three-point “policy ask” to G20 Leaders that will be the focus of a global youth-action strategy on key issues such as youth unemployment. Additionally, the Y20 has deepened its policy base by developing a knowledge partnership with Deloitte Access Economics, presenting to the G20 Employment Taskforce and working closely with the Business 20 (B20) engagement group of the G20.

Across all the Y20’s work, the aim is to produce succinct, action focused communications for the G20 Leaders and work with all Y20 delegates to create a system of accountability through the establishment of a comprehensive multilateral global accountability framework.

The G20’s Taskforce on Employment (TFE) is coordinating the development of members’ employment plans that will be included in country growth strategies.

Australia, as G20 Chair has adopted this policy recommendations contained in the Communiqué by majority support – in addition to three priority policy recommendations in June – having developed them in committees and sought to accommodate the views of all delegates.

Australian Presidency’s has pledged its support for engaging youth in G20 decision making and will also host a Labour and Employment Ministers meeting on 10-11 September to develop actions to boost employment, lift workforce participation and help long-term and youth unemployment.

Success for the Y20 in 2014 will be defined by two outcomes. The first is getting a bolder commitment from G20 Leaders to take action to address youth unemployment.

The second is through the development of a fully functioning youth engagement group for the G20, which can be a lasting legacy of the Australian G20 presidency in 2014.

The Y20 has taken major steps to better integrate itself into the broader G20 agenda, and in taking these steps, will ensure that G20 youth will continue to have the opportunity to engage with G20 Leaders for many years to come.

WASEN Ghana’s Involvement with Youth 20 (Y20)

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The Executive Director of WASEN Ghana, Mr. Isaac Aggrey has over the years worked with experts and development partners to establish sound knowledge of rapid and sustained economic growth, promoted access to sound economic content, policy frameworks and provided an understanding of the principles, key concepts and processes of developmental projects including having his voice heard in Youth 20 (Y20) policy recommendations to the G20 Leaders, Global Partnership for Youth in the post-2015 Development Agenda (GPY2015). European Commission Communication on Civil Society Organizations in Development, Civil Society and Aid Effectiveness and the Open Government Partnership among others.

During 2014, he was selected out of many applicants from around the world and handpicked among a finalist of 7 to present and propose policy recommendations on Getting around: Labour Mobility and Youth Entrepreneurship by top executives from the European Union Young 20 (EUY20), an official youth engagement group of the G20.

The aim of this program is to bring young people closer to the G20 leaders and provide a platform for young people to voice their needs, opinions and interests on issues relevant to the G20 agenda.

The G20 committed in its Fifth Anniversary Vision Statement to listen carefully to institutions and countries which are not in the group particularly emerging countries. Accordingly, Australia, 2014 president of the G20 continues to work with non-members to develop international understanding of the G20’s 2014 agenda, to promote the agenda’s benefits to the global economy and to seek views and input from young people.

The 2014 G20 summit was held on 15 and 16 November at Brisbane, Australia and brought together range of opinions and perspectives from member states and the business community.

The G20 is been supported by international organizations, including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. These and several other organizations are invited to attend the 2014 G20 meeting.

Isaac recognizes the important role that the G20 leaders continue to play in advancing sustainable business models and markets to build an inclusive global economy and therefore plans to advocate and lobby around issues affecting young people in Africa. He has the opportunity now to engage with the G20 Investment Taskforce Team (Business 20, Deloitte Access Economics and Employment) to attract infrastructure Investment and Financial Services to young people in Africa.

 

MAPPING OUT STRATEGIES TO OVERCOME GHANA’S SOCIAL PROBLEMS

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As the demands of the global economy place increased pressure on societies to become self sufficient, the importance of providing opportunities to those who lack the necessary education and financial resources has become increasingly apparent.

Poverty creates political and economic instability, a major threat to business and sustainable development. Inadequate infrastructure, such as poor roads and remote and scattered villages, makes it hard for farmers to bring their products to market, and likewise hinders access to product.

1st Digital3Economic prosperity cannot be achieved when individuals and whole economies lack basic infrastructure. Roads, ports, rail networks, telecommunications, access to energy and water for domestic and agricultural use are some of the basic services needed to facilitate mobility and trade.

One of these factors is the failure to convert Ghana’s demographic advantage, namely young people, into a dynamic economic force. Young people will remain trapped in a cycle of poverty, violence and missed opportunity. It is of paramount importance that young people become the custodians of their own development, partake fully in citizenship duties, and contribute towards the economic development of Ghana.

Consensus BuldingGiven the urgency and the sheer scale of the challenges that confront Ghana, harnessing synergies between foreign direct investment and private sector investment is imperative. Coordination between these stakeholders is vital to maximize development benefits.

Ghana must harness all its natural resources to develop as rapidly as possible, recognizing the youth as the nation’s season of hope, enterprise and energy. The Youth must be encouraged to work hard and build upon the foundations already laid by the four fathers, looking into the future with some measure of confidence in themselves.

High-Level Panel_1Government must consider seriously investing a greater percentage of its budget in youth and women enterprises making them resourceful and a self-reliant.

Governance is the way in which a country or society takes decisions and allocates resources. It’s  not just about voting systems, it’s about the way in which people, including the poorest and most excluded can be involved in those decisions, and hold institutions accountable. These commitments require that government create a legal framework that will institutionalize the principles of transparency, participation, and collaboration into the culture and work of its governance structure.

 

REDESIGNING THE FUTURE WITH YOUNG THOUGHT LEADERS

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Many young people do not have the required skills, awareness and investment to turn their potentials to their advantage. They also lack access to lessons that might help demystify the technicalities of starting own business as well as focusing on achievable better results.

Overcoming these challenges can be very tedious as there are no clear guiding principles to apply. The social entrepreneurship concept has managed to play a very critical role in the socio-economic transformation of nations. It could therefore be used as model of initiating new businesses to better the lives of young people in Ghana.

While social entrepreneurs often work through nonprofits and citizen groups, their channels of operation typically involves working closely with both the private sector as well as the government. Social entrepreneurship is therefore not in competition with government and the private sector but is a complimentary institution with the common goal of working for the betterment of the people. Innovation often happens when different disciplines collide and it’s becoming apparent that most values – certainly most social value – is likely to be created at the intersection of government, private and the social sector.

The main distinguishing characteristic is that social entrepreneurship aims at furthering social and environmental goals. Just like their private counterparts, they are people who are ambitious, self-driven, innovative, resourceful and focused on results. They use their skills to identify opportunities and approaches that can be exploited to change society for the better. Social entrepreneurship has become the so called “Third Pillar” in the development discourse and practice, and integral role in solving the social and economic problems we face in our communities today.

At the West Africa Social Entrepreneurs Network (WASEN Ghana), we have adopted business-like approaches to solving social problems and have succeeded in bringing about meaningful socio-economic change in Ghana. WASEN Ghana has initiated a Social Entrepreneurship Guide (tailored learning and training programs) to demonstrate the scale and diversity of social value using business principles – much of which is achieved through harnessing the power of young people’s creativity and innovation.

This guide further demonstrates the huge opportunities for social enterprises to harness their talents to generate insights, to drive more effective action and to fuel social change. This successful guide can be used as a template for young people looking to embrace social entrepreneurship as a means of transforming their societies. By combining the business–like ideals and approaches with their relentless quest, young people can use this guide to radically improve the livelihoods of their communities in a sustainable manner.

However, it is important to recognize that it is not just any non-profit organization that can use this model to address the development challenges that continue to confront us. It is those non-profits and other citizen-driven organizations (social business) who can clearly illustrate a “more-than-profit” motives, uses good business sense and a desire to bring about social change can benefit from this guide.

It is in the spirit that Isaac Aggrey, the Executive Director of WASEN Ghana granted an interview to Kweku Temeng of TV 3 Business Focus to further highlights his love for humanity and commitment to bring about positive change across the world. Watch the entire interview here!

 

 

WASEN Ghana Alternative Innovative Financing

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Getting a business off the ground or build it once started is challenging and in some instances seemingly impossible. SMEs in both developed and developing countries are enormously challenged by myriad of factors – with one of the main challenges being access to finance.

It is therefore no secret that raising the needed capital to launch a business is by no means an easy task, most particularly for women and young entrepreneurs. Over the years, West Africa Social Entrepreneurs Network (WASEN Ghana) has been able to identify social enterprises, startup and SMEs who uses business principles to solve societal problems. WASEN Ghana has built mentorship and empowerment programmes around these businesses increasing opportunities for their growth and success.

Our peer-selected investment approach delivers strong results for both early-stage social enterprises and impact investors. Although WASEN Ghana seek more investment options to project the goals of these social enterprises, it has become evident that a growing investor demand with more diversified portfolios are needed – one which generates capital and build a customer base for social entrepreneurs simultaneously.

WASEN Ghana is therefore launching a new platform that will allow social enterprises, startups and SMEs to advertise and distribute their products to millions of customers thereby increasing exposure to potential impact investors and customers.

The platform will help social enterprises, startups and SMEs sell their products and seek for donations / finance through crowd technology. It will further connect early-stage startups and SMEs to accredited impact investors.

It intends to invest in key sectors, including but not limited to: improving education, increasing access to financial services, sustaining agriculture, making housing affordable, making healthcare affordable and accessible, supporting clean energy technologies and increasing job opportunities for women and young people alike.

The fund will give an opportunity to women and young entrepreneurs in financially underserved countries empowering them through international public investment, rather than foreign aid or charity.

Many creative and innovative ideas of women and young entrepreneurs fail before reaching the market due to lack of funding or slow sales. WASEN Ghana is partnering with the international community and other Impact investors to ensure funding is made available to these groups of entrepreneurs across Africa.

This initiative has the potential to become a complete game changer putting the needed “capital or fund to work” thereby enhancing the growth of women and youth enterprises in emerging markets.

WASEN Ghana Partners YALI Regional Leadership Center

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On July 28, 2014, President Obama announced the creation of four Regional Leadership Centers in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa. Beginning in 2015, these Centers will improve the availability and quality of leadership training programs and professional development opportunities for young African leaders.

Each will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the energy and dynamism of the private sector, the knowledge of African and American institutions, and the programmatic and educational resources of the U.S. Government. The Centers will focus on engaging young leaders from a wide range of organizations and backgrounds and with a diversity of experiences. The Regional Leadership Centers will:

  • Provide Quality Leadership Training: Centers will provide both long and short courses on leadership and issues across multiple sectors.
  • Support Entrepreneurship: Centers will provide entrepreneurship support services, including mentoring, technology, and access to capital.
  • Enhance Professional Networking: Centers will offer young leaders the opportunity to connect with each other, American professionals, and experts from across the region.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will provide $38 million for the creation of and programs in the Regional Leadership Centers. American and African companies and foundations have more than matched these funds, providing principal capital for the startup costs, equipment, and technology for the Centers.

The MasterCard Foundation will provide financial support over five years to develop the Centers. With financial and in-kind contributions from Microsoft, Dow Chemical Company, Intel Corporation, and Cisco Systems, the U.S. Government will be able to establish and maintain the Centers, and provide business software and hardware, mentoring, and information technology training through them. With in-kind support from Procter & Gamble, General Electric, Atlas Mara, and McKinsey & Company, the U.S. and its partners will be able to provide leadership training, technical support, and access to capital for young entrepreneurs.

The U.S. Government has joined with the following partners to establish and deliver high quality training, support, and networking through the Centers.

In collaboration with USAID, host institutions in Africa will provide instruction and collaboration space, expert training, and coursework for the Centers.

yali_country_mapThe Accra Regional Leadership Center (RLC) will cover all Anglophone West Africa countries and will have two main training sites: Accra and Lagos. The Accra RLC will bring at least 900 young West African leaders to both countries each year for leadership training and mentoring in key areas, including: Business Management and Public Administration; social entrepreneurship; and civic leadership.

YALI will also expand the number of young African leaders who participate in this program and will focus on areas like Science, Technology, Agriculture, Engineering, Math, Education, and the Arts.

A consensus has emerged with WASEN Ghana and YALI Accra Regional Leadership Center (RLC) to provide a platform for more cohesive sectoral learning; engaging 10,000 young leaders over four years. The proposed partnership will provide targeted investments in and support for activities across West Africa.

 

 

WASEN PARTNERS HIIL FOUNDATION TO EMPOWER SME’S IN WEST AFRICA

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Startups and SMEs in East and West Africa need a more secure and just environment to grow

Start-up companies and small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are vital engines of economic growth and employment throughout the world. They can give new generations much needed opportunities and enable a more equitable and sustainable development but their potential is all too often obstructed.

In the most challenging environments, SMEs face a stifling range of interconnected injustices and challenges such as harsh regulations, insecurity, high levels of taxation and corruption, a lack of transparency, demanding registration procedures and a lack of information. In some places it is practically impossible for local businesses to flourish because of lengthy and costly procedures to set up a business, obtain the necessary licenses or meet international standards. All too often, the growth opportunities are hampered by regulatory barriers or the lack of access to basic necessities or credit. Last but not least, for female entrepreneurs the challenges can seem truly unsurmountable due to discrimination.

Obstacles for setting up, and scaling up SMEs can be found around the developing world but in some regions, the potential for progress is particularly striking. The potential in East and West Africa definitely warrants closer attention. Nigeria is a case in point. Whereas the Nigerian population is growing at a fast pace compared to most other regions in the world, one would be hard pressed to make the argument that there are fair, equal opportunities for Nigerian entrepreneurs. They not only struggle to compete with vested business interests within Nigeria, but also with their counterparts in other (more competitive) countries.

This need not remain that way. If we can manage to unlock the potential of East and West African SMEs by finding and empowering the governance and justice innovations they truly need, the opportunities for investment and growth in that region are immense.

 HiiL Innovating Justice has accelerated innovative ways to create better access to justice for more than four years now. Together with the Global Agenda Council on Justice and supported by the Ford Foundation, HiiL Innovating Justice plans to launch a SME Empowerment Innovation Challenge specifically targeting the needs of East and West African start-ups and SMEs.

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The execution of the challenge will connect incubator partners throughout East and West Africa with the HiiL Innovating Justice Accelerator team in The Hague. This will build local justice innovation capacity and connect local partners to the international justice innovation community. Justice innovation will be interpreted in a broad sense to include public, private (for profit and not-for-profit) and informal initiatives. The goal of this initiative is to find and strengthen new initiatives that can protect or empower start-ups and SMEs.

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HiiL Innovating Justice will assess the most promising innovations and provide support to scale their impact. Besides providing financial support, The Ford Foundation will connect its regional and local networks to this Challenge to ensure its success.

In Ghana, not only is the environment challenging, but there is also a widespread culture that does not recognize or reward entrepreneurial endeavours. This is largely due to gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem that often prevent SME’s from accessing the needed support system to grow.

Entrepreneurs particularly have difficulties raising finance in the early stages of their businesses and have become frustrated at their inability or failure to secure funding to operate and grow their business.

Demanding registration procedures and a lack of information for SME development remain major obstacles and have alluded to the shallow and limited understanding of entrepreneurship activities in Ghana.

WASEN Ghana is enthusiastic about this partnership as both parties will work together to find and strengthen new initiatives that can protect or empower start-ups and SME’s across West Africa.

 

 

 

CREATING THE RIGHT ECOSYSTEM TO SCALE ENTERPRISES IN GHANA

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Africa currently faces a chronic unemployment problem, especially for youth under age 35. In the face of this chronic unemployment, the youth feel disempowered, frustrated and disoriented. This has key implications for political, social and economic instability as can be evidenced by the global increase in protest in other continent, many fueled by youth frustration and unemployment.

One of the most important factors contributing to youth unemployment in Ghana is the relatively low levels of skills among young people. The Youth need to be prepared to redefine “jobs” based on shifting opportunities and continue to adapt to bridge the skills-opportunity gap. To do that, the youth have to cultivate and exercise the skills of the future that can help them create solutions for complex problems while in turn bringing value to the labor market and creating a demand for their skills.

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Acquiring these much-needed skills, leadership (courage and confidence as initiators), hands-on problem-solving (creativity, agency for change making and critical thinking) and teamwork will enable young people to be at the helm of the reconstruction and development of Ghana.

Given the current state of youth unemployment in Ghana, the youth are been challenged to seize the opportunities created by the government in order to create a better life for themselves and their families. The long-term solution to Ghana’s unemployment crisis is to create a nation of entrepreneurs and not a nation of job-seekers and thus WASEN Ghana is confident that the Youth Enterprise Investment (YEI) initiative will help to reverse the youth unemployment trend through appropriate research, quality training and a relevant mentorship that responds to the needs of entrepreneurial development of young people.

The initiative is vital to future economic development and prosperity and will ensure young entrepreneurs are encouraged and cultivated. It will celebrate Ghana’s best and brightest young entrepreneurs whose successful businesses and achievements contribute immensely to local, national, global economies as well as to their communities.

The initiative has already began rolling out regional business clinics which seeks to develop, grow and sustain youth enterprises through skills transfer and support from experts in the field of business.

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The three biggest challenges most often cited by young entrepreneurs who apply for support are, acquiring financing, access to mentorship and advice, and network opportunities. Traditional financial institutions generally refuse to lend to early stage enterprises because they do not meet their established client criteria and are not seen as offering sufficient guarantees. As a result, YEI intend to support early stage entrepreneurs to build scale and market capacity as well.

It will offer the right levels of support to youth enterprises that often face difficulty in accessing loans from traditional banks. YEI business training and development support will focus on providing finance, business management training and problem solving support to budding and experienced young entrepreneurs.

The program will ensure young entrepreneurs have abundant opportunities to grow and develop their enterprises in an environment that nurtures the development of these enterprises and enhances their job creation potential.