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MDF West Africa hosted the ‘’Smart Step Multi-Stakeholders Meeting’’ on Friday 28th of April 2023 at the Ghana Innovation Hub located at Accra Digital Centre.

Smart Step is a Capacity Building pivoting around vocational Education and Training (VET). Co-funded by the European Union, the project aims to improve the training programs offered in Vocational education and training (VET) schools in Ghana and Cameroon. The Project seeks to prepare students for entrepreneurship and bridge the gap between the education system and the labor market.

The aim of the meeting was to have a better understanding of the current state of entrepreneurship and competency-based training landscape in Ghana as an option for career opportunities for young persons (with a special focus on women) and to identify the mismatch between the educational approach and the labor market needs.

The consultation was attended by representatives from a diverse array of sectors including Ghana TVET services and Ghanaian entrepreneurs. The meeting started with a presentation of the Regional Director of Africa of MDF, Richard Yeboah, regarding the activities of MDF in Ghana in the space of (youth) Entrepreneurship, Capacity building of TVET institutions, and the role MDF plays as an Ecosystem Enterprise Support Organisation.  He explained the various programs being offered by the Ghana Innovation Hub. A hub managed under the leadership of MDF in partnership with BlueSpace Africa and Ghana Communication Technology University (GCTU), as part of the Worldbank funded program e-transform being implemented by the Ghana Ministry of Communication and Digitalization.

Eelke Jansen, Project Manager Private Sector Innovation at MDF West Africa and Centre for Enterprise Learning gave a presentation about the Organic Waste-to-Value Initiative, a develoPPP project co-funded by BMZ and co-implemented by GIZ Ghana. She gave an overview of the partners of the program, its projected activities, and its current status. The program will include the realization of a new training center in Nsawam. It is focused on job creation for (female) youth (18-35) and will train 650 people over a three-year time period, through business development and TVET courses, specifically focused on transforming organic waste into value. The project will create at least 120 new jobs and improve 500 jobs.

Vivian Mensah- Dogbatse, a trainer consultant at MDF West Africa, also gave a presentation on the Orange Corners Ghana acceleration program (A  business development Entrepreneurship Programme,  cofounded by The Kingdom of Netherlands, and 7 companies in Ghana (Fidelity Bank, Vivo Energy, Cargill, Peoples pension Trust, MPS, Friesland Campina, and Koudijs) acceleration program for youth-led SMEs in Ghana focusing on sustainable growth, through training and business development services, leading to operational improvement, deepening existing markets and access to new markets and access to up to 50,000 Euro through the Orange Corners Innovation Fund (OCIF) at 5% p.a.

The final presentation was given by Ernest Owiredu Aboagye on the SDC-funded program implemented in partnership with AFFORD which also focused on strengthening the link between the TVET sector and the labor market with support from resources provided by Diaspora communities.

Santo Astorino, project manager of Smart Step Project facilitated a round table discussion during the afternoon session, reflecting on the following key issues;

  1. The challenges Entrepreneurs face in Ghana;
  2. What the TVET system is lacking to incorporate students into the Entrepreneurial world;
  3. The mismatch between the education and the labor market;
  4. Skills that are essential for successful Entrepreneurship in the Ghanaian context;
  5. The legal framework for Entrepreneurship in Ghana, among others;

The meeting concluded with a commitment from all parties to work together to contribute towards the improvement of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Ghana to support youth-led businesses.

Article by: Priscilla Eleanor Wilson, MDF West Africa