Africans have a way of migrating. Ghanaians are no different. Large populations have made themselves at home in Europe, and across the world. Some move forever. Others travel just to experience a few years in the complex economies that allow them to refine their skills, and provide resources to their families back home. These Ghanaians may physically be in Brussels or Rome, but their hearts are in Accra.
Wherever they are, the Diaspora is an essential part of Ghanaian development. Remittances back home play an essential role in the upbringing and development of the country, while the skills transfer on their return also increases investment in critical sectors, such as banking and health care. Remittances to Ghana are indispensable, as they carry a larger proportion of the country’s balance of payments than all official development aid payments combined.
Unlike other countries, however, Ghana has recognised the contribution of their citizens abroad. Last week, the International Oraganisation for Migration (IOM) held a three day colloquium. The discussion centred around the Diaspora Engagement Project. This project, assisted by the International Development Fund (IDF) aims to support the relationship between the Ghanaian government and its diaspora. Five countries that host extensive Ghanaian populations participated in the Accra discussions: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
The project aims to develop a national Diaspora Support Unit housed within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Along with a database and website that will promote dialogue between the various parties involved, Ghana is clearly looking to assist with the needs of its citizens abroad.
While the importance of citizens abroad is addressed at the international level, local initiatives are also launching. These are aimed at Ghanaian businesses within the country’s borders. To develop local talent, the non-profit organisation, Enablis Ghana (EG), has joined forces with Accra Brewery Ltd and UT Bank to provide training and support to Ghanaian entrepreneurs.
Working together, the Business Launchpad Competition was launched last week. The competition will award training and support modules to winning entries in fields as diverse as agri-processing, or marketing and media. Special emphasis is placed on IT businesses, which continue to grow at unprecedented rates worldwide.
The contest winners will be selected based on their proposals in February 2013, giving time for entrepreneurs to develop their ideas and business plans. The goal of the competition is to convert these goals into bankable, and successful businesses. Training will be given to the chosen businesses in the fields of Financial Management, Human Resources, Marketing, and more.
Madam Shika Acolatse is the Country Director of Enablis in Ghana. Through this competition, she hopes to create an opportunity for entrepreneurs with a solid business idea to develop sustainable enterprises. Her focus is on promoting development of resources to encourage entrepreneurial skills within the country. Ghanaian citizens are encouraged to apply through the official website at www.businesslaunchpad.com.gh.
From local levels to international fora, Ghana is set to change the way its people do business. From a small enterprise in Accra to the doctor in Houston, who hopes to return soon, Ghanaians are pushing the boundaries of development – and the definition of African business.