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TechCamp to boost West Africa entrepreneurshipMonday, February 09, 2015 > 11:28:20
Young social entrepreneurs from seven West African countries have gathered in Ghana to engage in hands-on capacity building, and networking with the region’s government, academic, civil society and business experts.
The public-private initiative has been spear-headed by the US Embassy in Ghana and the GhanaThink Foundation to encourage cross border collaboration, inspire entrepreneurship, and promote increased trade across borders.
The TechCamp West Africa programme is themed: “Entrepreneurship: Adapt, Empower and Measure,” featuring 100 young entrepreneurs from Ghana, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Nigeria and Togo.
US Ambassador Gene Cretz told the participants on Friday that young entrepreneurs inspired President Obama to create the Young African Leaders Initiative to encourage and foster the ingenuity, confidence, passion, and commitment of the next generation of African leaders.
He said: “We seek to increase trade and investment in Ghana and the region knowing that a strong regional trading partner serves everyone’s national interest."
“One of the greatest side effects of stronger economic ties is rather basic - when people earn a decent living, peace and stability are enhanced,” he added.
He said borderless alliance had partnered private sector participants with government policy implementers in order to unleash the region’s true economic potential by effectively identifying and addressing barriers to trade that hold back West Africa’s economic growth.
“Today is the start of a new alliance – an alliance of tech and social entrepreneurs looking to work together to unleash this region’s economic potential,” Cretz said.
The TechCamp programme, which would last from February 6 to 8, would include an inspiration session followed by hands-on learning for each of the three sub themes – Adapt, Empower, Measure.
The “Adapt” panel would engage representatives from partners - Microsoft, IBM and KPMG – in a discussion of their experiences in a changing social and economic landscape.
The Stanford Institute for Innovation in Developing Economies (SEED) would lead the “Adapt” hands-on learning session.
The “Empower” session would feature Patrick Awuah of Ashesi University, Nicole Amarteifio of An African City, and Sheku Kallon (Pricewaterhouse Coopers).
Google would lead the participants through the “Measurement” inspiration and learning sessions, sharing how to get the most out of entrepreneurial efforts by constantly measuring the environment, finding opportunities and avoiding pitfalls.
2014 Mandela Fellows Regina Agyare and Yayra Adzofu would talk to the young entrepreneurs about the community service programmes they had created -- TechNeedsGirls and a sanitation program at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital.
The social entrepreneurship programmes demonstrate how to grow business or social programmes through community service.
US Ambassador Gene Cretz, Dr Kwesi Botchwey, and Leticia Browne of the Ghana Angel Investment Network would provide feedback as country teams pitch solutions to improve the entrepreneurship environments in their particular communities.
Vodafone Ghana would handle the Jam sessions, which would entail small group problem-solving on a variety of themes ranging from agriculture to robotics, and from new technology to elections.