Two young female students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) have been adjudged winners of season two of the Presidential Pitch and presented with a GH¢100,000 grant by the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
The grant is to enable them to expand their innovative business of using banana and plantain stems to produce disposable sanitary pads.
Ms Emily Otoo-Quayson, 20, and Ms Matilda Sampong, 23, were among 10 young business entrepreneurs, aged between 18 and 25 years, who presented (pitched) their business ideas and products before a panel of judges, and witnessed by President Akufo-Addo, ministers of state, members of the diplomatic corps and captains of industry in the final round of the pitch in Accra last Tuesday.
Even though the prize for the first position was GH¢60,000, the President, who was impressed with the innovative skills of the young ladies, added GH¢40,000 to the prize money.
The 10 finalists were selected from a large number of contestants across the country.
Mr Akwasi Sarpong, whose presentation was the processing of cassava into meals, received GH¢40,000 as the first runner-up, while the second runner-up, Mr Kwaku Adjei, a young agro-processor, who processed eggs without additives, had GH¢35,000.
The rest, who received GH¢25,000 each, were Ms Nicole Gyebi and Mr Godfred Vunase for placing fourth; Ms Mabel Suglo and Ms Yaa Aduba Asare, also placed fifth and sixth, respectively.
The seventh to 10th positions were won by Mr Rahana Ibrahim-Wudui, Ms Barbara Adam and Mr Gerhard Malah; Nana Kofi Asiedu Braimah and Mr Kwadwo Ampadu; and Mr Christian Boakye Yiadom and Ms Yvette Owusu Afriyie.
Last year’s winners
Earlier, six of the winners of the first edition, held last year, made presentations of the various developments in their respective businesses which ranged from expansion to employment of more people, construction of facilities and saving lives through the use of ambulances constructed out of the pitch programme.
According to President Akufo-Addo, although last year’s winners were charged to employ at least 10 persons each, feedback indicated they employed a total of more than 100 people.
He said entrepreneurship was a vital component of economic growth and one of the most important drivers of development, for which reason imbuing entrepreneurial skills in the youth was key to addressing unemployment in the country.
The President said it was for that reason that the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) was established to provide an integrated national support for early stage startups and small business incubators, as well as funding for businesses owned by the youth.
He further explained that the Presidential Pitch sought to deepen the entrepreneurial passion among the Ghanaian youth through the incubation of business ideas into innovative and enterprising business opportunities.
President Akufo-Addo said business ideas that qualified for the pitch were innovative, feasible, impactful and scalable and described the quality of the applications as high and encouraging.
He urged those who did not win any prize to take consolation in the fact that the Ministry of Business Development would find ways to support them.
Unlike last year when the prizes were in the form of loans, this year’s awardees received grants as part of the government’s commitment to provide seed capital for enterprising youth to enable them to run their businesses successfully.
All the contestants will also receive training to help them build their management capabilities in the areas of marketing, procurement, finance and risk to make them competitive in the global arena.
President Akufo-Addo added that the winners would be attached to Ghanaian and international companies to sharpen their business acumen.
“I believe in the resolve of the Ghanaian to develop prosperous business enterprise that would help create jobs and wealth for majority of the people.The government will continue to offer the needed support and environment for them to grow and create jobs,” he added.
The Minister of Business Development, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, whose ministry supervised the competition, advised the contestants never to give up in their pursuit of growth in spite of challenges they might encounter in their businesses, because, no successful businessman, academician or politician had it on a silver platter.
“One thing about such successful people is that when they fall, they get up,” he added.
The minister also urged them to be consistent and gave an assurance that his ministry would continue to offer technical, business support service and funding for them.