JA Ghana hosted a Start Up Academy from 8 – 13 July 2019 at the University of Ghana in Accra. The Start Up Academy is a collaboration between JA Ghana and Aiducation International with funding from the Swiss Re Foundation. It is aimed at inspiring talented young Ghanaians from disadvantaged backgrounds to identify opportunities around them, live up to their potentials in life and influence their communities positively.
The program brought together 35 university students from across Ghana, teaming up to create business ideas and working together to turn their ideas into viable businesses through practical business lessons. Five Swiss Re staff from across the world and four local entrepreneurs facilitated sessions and served as coaches and mentors for the students; guiding them through developing business models, providing advice and helping troubleshoot challenges they encountered. They included Swiss Re International staff; Rolf Honold, Mary Fleischmann, Dante Scalzaretto, Jens Vollmer and Carol Liao, as well as Cynthia Bruachli, representing Aiducation International.
Cynthia Brauchli, Manager Partners & Donors at Aiducation International, said, “The second Swiss Re Start Up Academy has once again been a great success. I am always impressed to see young and talented students being so eager to learn and taking every opportunity they can. It is amazing how they come up with various creative business ideas and how they are able to learn and implement theoretical concepts in such a short time. I am sure that they can become great entrepreneurs and I can’t wait to see them drive and realize their full potential. We are happy for our partnership with Swiss Re and Junior Achievement Ghana and are looking forward hopefully many more impactful journeys together.”
At the event, Elizabeth Bintliff, CEO of JA Africa, coached the students on four key relationships they should cultivate on their paths to success. She encouraged them to utilize the experience and presence of their mentors, to learn to work well within teams, to learn how to relate to investors and most importantly, to cultivate positive relationships with themselves and invest in strengthening their soft skills. “The most important relationship you will have on your path to success is with yourself,” she advised the students. “When you strengthen that relationship, only them can you effectively know how to choose partners, what you bring to a team and what values you are looking for in investors.”
Entrepreneurship Education, one of JA’s three pillars, is growing in importance due to the high level of unemployment in Ghana. According to the 2015 Ghana Labour Force report, more than 1.2 million people, 15 years and older are estimated to be unemployed, representing the total unemployment rate of 11.9%. These unemployed youth become entrepreneurs as a means of securing their livelihoods.
In light of this, the partnership has been forged to empower young entrepreneurs with the business acumen to create jobs not only for themselves but for others as well. This will bring economic growth not only to these entrepreneurs but the country as a whole.