Dutch-Ghanaian with a passion for citrus farmers wins pitch competition in Ghana

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Five Dutch-Ghanaian entrepreneurs who are developing their business idea for the Ghanaian market competed on Friday the 4th of May in Accra for a place at the GBT Start-up Investor Conference in Ghana.  

They have been in Ghana’s capital Accra for 10 days to see how their business idea matches the real world. Emanuel Ankrah, Dennis Toppin Fofie, Esther Dankwah, Lenry Austin and Joshua Asambo are five young Dutch adults with Ghanaian roots who share one goal: launching a successful start-up in the country of their origin.

The five entrepreneurs won the trip to Ghana after participating in Growing Business Together (GBT), a start-up accelerator that fosters young entrepreneurship in Ghana and The Netherlands. In Accra, the 5 winners had to compete again on Friday May 4th 2018. This time, the finalist would win a place at the GBT Start-up Investor Conference in Ghana, where promising new startups in the country present themselves.

“I believe it’s important that Dutch-Ghanaians are involved in the economy of their country of origin”, said Caecilia Wijgers, Deputy Head of Mission of the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Ghana at the competition. The Dutch Embassy is one of GBT’s partners. After stressing the interest of the Dutch government in private sector development, she gave the floor to the five young entrepreneurs who would present their business ideas.

Scalable business for Ghana

Joshua Asambo kicks off. He is development project coordinator by profession, but now hopes to launch his start-up Hijau Farms in Ghana. It will be a vegetable growing company for the supply of the B2B market in Ghana. Asambo says he plans to focus on restaurants and smaller retail stores to gradually grow his business. “Restaurants in Ghana have shown interest in direct supply of vegetables” Joshua commented.

Lenry Austin, candidate 2, pitched her idea for a contemporary fashion store for the working middle class in Ghana. “The Ghanaian market is open for a comfortable retailer”, Austin said. After many business meetings in the previous days in Accra to test her idea, she found out that her target group experiences discomfort while going through a pile of clothing on the floor when shopping for affordable fashion. Austin plans to tackle this problem by marketing a well-presented flagship store by starting online.

Third is Emanuel Ankarah, a Youtube Channel manager who plans to set up an e-learning platform for Ghanaian students and graduates while setting up a channel for teachers and mentors to coach via digital platforms. Emanuel is looking for partnerships to provide the needed training for employment on a continuous basis.

“Physical training is evolving and Ghana is in need of upskilled trainers.”
— Esther Dankwah

A remarkable participant in the competition is Esther Dankwah, known in Ghana as national athlete that competed in the Olympics of 2006. Dankwah, who plans to start training athletes in Ghana, announced a partnership with Dennis Fofie, gym owner and co-alumni to upskill physical trainers in Ghana and provide the needed certification for over 70 percent of the fitness trainers in Accra. Dankwah has also made it her goal to train more women to become skilled fitness trainers.

The winner

The jury announced Dennis Toppin Fofie as the winner of the competition. Dennis plans to help 80 farmers who own approximately 600 acres of land combined to sell organic citrus fruits on Western markets.

Fofie was praised by the jury for being willing to get the needed expertise while working on his business idea for the last two years. The jury believes that with the right help, he can finally seal contracts for his group of farmers he wants to help sell on international markets.

“This is an unexpected opportunity to help take my idea further”, said the winner after hearing the announcement. With this prize, Fofie gets to pitch his business idea to investors at the GBT Start-up Investor Conference on the 19th of October in Accra, Ghana.

GBT program manager George Duncan said all five entrepreneurs did a ‘magnificent job’ in doing their research in less than 10 days. Though only one of them could win this race, he said he has hopeful expectations for all entrepreneurs. In Duncan’s observation, all five entrepreneurs ‘have what it takes’ to start their business in the coming year.

Are you interested to know how the entrepreneurs are doing? Follow Growing Business Together on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.

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