Katja Lasseur, Deputy Head of Mission for the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana and her team visited the Ghana CIC on the 5th of February 2019. Her visit to the Ghana CIC is part of a series of visits she will be doing to the various incubator hubs in Ghana receiving funding from the Dutch Government.
In what she described as a working visit, she stated that her visit was aimed at better understanding what the Ghana CIC does, some of the gaps and/or challenges being faced and how the Dutch Government could lend more support to growing businesses in Ghana. She stated that one of the key observations she had made during her visits thus far was the challenge of access to funding by entrepreneurs and she was keen to find out from the entrepreneurs and other stakeholders present the reasons for this and the different solutions that can be put in place to mitigate the difficulty.
“As an embassy, we are phasing out large development programs and we are moving towards trade relations with a big focus on helping young entrepreneurs grow their businesses but not in the old-fashioned way where we hand out grants.” She continued.
In emphasizing the Dutch’s Government commitment in helping young businesses grow, she stated, “We will try and support businesses that are already viable, can grow and can create jobs. If there is financing from the Dutch government, it will be in the form loans that have to be repaid. We have learnt over the years that the grant system is unsustainable and apparently there are quite a few startups that have been hanging around for years just living on incubator grants where they keep hoping from grant to grant.” She added,” This is something that we would rather not contribute to but we are very ready to support businesses that are already in the accelerator stage and would love to grow and create jobs.”
The visit started off with a short scenic walk from Ashesi to GCIC led by Patrick Awuah Jr., Founder and President of Ashesi University- Ghana CIC’s lead consortium partner. Other members of the consortium- EY, SNV and UNU-INRA- were also in attendance.
Her visit also gave Ghana CIC a chance to highlight the tremendous impact it was making through its entrepreneurs. She got a chance to interact with Ashesi students who had interned with some of the GCIC entrepreneurs, as they shared the impact and learnings from their experience.
She also heard from some of the entrepreneurs in the Ghana CIC incubator (both current and alumni), Ashesi students with student-led businesses that are part of the GCIC Ashesi incubator and got to experience some of the entrepreneurs’ products first-hand through the indoor GCIC exhibition prepared.
The Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) is a pioneering business incubator whose objective is to support entrepreneurs and ventures involved in developing profitable and locally appropriate solutions to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Ghana. The Centre’s key focus is on building businesses operating within the areas of energy efficiency, domestic waste management, solar energy, water supply management and purification and climate-smart agriculture. GCIC is part of the World Bank Group’s infoDev Climate Technology Program. Supported by the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands, the Centre is managed by a consortium led by the Ashesi University College and including Ernst & Young, SNV Ghana, and the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.