With the constant decline in the demand for locally manufactured goods and services, the John A. Kufuor Foundation set out to launch the Kufuor Young Entrepreneurs Network (K-YEN) and inaugurate Fourteen (14) inductees aged 18 – 45, to cushion the efforts of young and ingenious Ghanaians, each hoping to make a change in various sectors of the economy, thereby changing the narrative and in turn improving the quality of life and well being of the nation.
In a ceremony organised by the JAK Foundation to commemorate the launch, on Thursday, 27th September, 2018, in Accra, the C.E.O of the JAK Foundation, Prof. Baffour Agyeman-Duah, spoke on the Foundation’s intentions in setting up K-YEN, a platform to support young and fledgling Ghanaian entrepreneurs to become future captains of industries. He explained the need for this network of support as Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) reportedly fold up without the right support and sustainability.
In light of this, the Foundation seeks to create a platform for young entrepreneurs to share their experiences, facilitate support from coaches, access to finance and financial management services and network among beneficiaries and potential national and foreign/external markets, create exhibitions that aid the promotion of purchase and patronage of services and products of beneficiaries of KYENs and provide specialised training programmes in areas such as corporate leadership, governance, social responsibility and skills development for staff.
Currently in partnership with the JAK Foundation for the realisation of the K-YEN’s objectives are; Premium Foods, the University of Ghana business school, which will arm beneficiaries with specialised and necessary training needed to thrive, also the Fidelity Bank.
In his speech, Mr Edward Effah, Chief Executive Officer of Fidelity Bank, shared his experience as a youth venturing into a financial services company which started as a Discount House, which has today grown into the fourth largest bank in Ghana, creating more than a hundred thousand jobs in Ghana. He spoke on the importance of entrepreneurs in Ghana to see to the creation of real jobs, to curb the problem of unemployment and industries that will boost Ghana’s economy.
He further congratulated the former President and reiterated the Bank’s commitment in supporting the K-YEN initiative by providing mentorship, training and funding where necessary.
The current Minister for Business Development, Hon. Muhammed Awal, commended the former President for the K-YEN Initiative. He also took the opportunity to appeal to Ghanaians to lend their support to the entrepreneurship growth and development of young minds. To the Inductees whom he had earlier had presented certificates to, he urged them to make the most of the sustainable platform given to them.
“This initiative is a sustainable one, which must be well nurtured and helped to develop. I am urging these young ones to be moved by their desire and never entertain doubts.”
In addition, he pledged his Ministry’s support to the foundation, “I would use this platform to pledge my Ministry’s support to this partnership and networking to develop a capacity in developing the nation.”
In cementing the partnership of the Kufuor Foundation with the Brazil-Africa Institute (IBRAF) a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed. The President of the Brazil-Africa institute, Prof. João Bosco Monte, who was part of those who signed the MoU on behalf of IBRAF, promised that IBRAF will do its best to promote the improvement of business practices and business environment to encourage entrepreneurs to go into business investments, and achieve the goals that the partnership wants to achieve. He expressed joy in the start of engagements with the Kufuor Foundation. He encouraged facilitators and partners of the Foundation to go beyond the talk and go to the action, and also encouraged the zoom on young people as he believes that partnership with young business owners is fundamental.
He further disclosed that Inductees will likely be beneficiaries of the YTTP (Youth Technical Training Programme) in Brazil.
In his keynote address, the former President shared his delight in the creation of K-YEN, which he hoped will bring a transformation in shapening these entrepreneurs into future industry leaders, to make up for the deficit in leadership in mostly government and business which he had seen, firsthand, through his life’s work.
“They are going to be primed to become the future captains of Industry in our nation, Ghana, like their colleagues in the Scholars Programme. I look forward to seeing a new bred of business leaders who will help to sustain the country’s economic developments.”
He assured the beneficiaries, whom he noted showed great promise, of the Foundation’s support in giving them all necessary transformational tools to see them emerge as captains of industries.
“The Foundation will offer you the opportunities to enhance your organisational development, your best business practices, and you access to finance and respect for the legal environment”
Bemoaning the recent crisis that struck the financial sector of the country, he admonished the inductees change the course of things and to avoid malpractice and bad leadership practices and instead adhere to set rules. In conclusion, he appreciated the Foundation’s Partners in the K-YEN initiative.
“I wish to express my personal appreciation to some institutions that have agreed to partner with the foundation in this journey. I am grateful to Premium Foods for offering to help mentor our young entrepreneurs, equally grateful to Prof Amponsah, representing the dean of the business School and to the Fidelity Bank. I thank the Minister for Business Development, for the assurances he has given us. I know that Minister Awal is a man of his words. We just witnessed the signing of the MoU between the foundation and the Brazil Institute, I am very confident that this new partnership between our two institutions will offer great opportunities for members of the network to acquire even greater empowerment opportunities. I am grateful to my good friend, Professor João Bosco Monte, for coming all the way from Brazil and for facilitating our partnership.”
Responding on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mr Kwame Ababio, head of Green Afro-Palms (GAP) an agro-company, thanked the foundation and stressed the urgent need for entrepreneurship in the country. He also promised that they would make the most of the opportunity given then and also pave a way for others to come.
The beneficiaries who have been in business for at least a year are duly registered with the Registrar General’s department of Ghana, the Ghana Revenue Authority and Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) are currently tax payers and have at least five (5) employees or apprentices. A few of these benefeciaries who cut across the fashion, agricultural, IT and energy sector include Bernice Dapaah, Ecoride (Ghana Bamboo Bikes), Fred Deegbe, Heel The World (Luxury Shoe and leather accessory company), Bismark Owusu, Salem Upholstery (Furniture Consult), Sallet Esinam, Sallet Fashions (Fashion House), Edward Osei, Eddydfast Enterprise (IT firm) and Israella Mansu, Mansuki Ghana Limited (MGL – Cosmetics Company).