Since 2013, Ghana has created and developed one of the strongest start-up ecosystems in Africa with help of foreign direct investments and the formulation and implementation of policies like the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP). These actionable steps have undoubtedly pushed the growth of the ecosystem in Ghana to a more strategic level.
The Ghanaian Ecosystem is dominated by businesses in the informal sector. Studies such as Singer et al. (2015) have indicated that entrepreneurs enter into the Ecosystem because they identify opportunities which they intend to capitalize to contribute to their economic development and the development of the Nation.
Ghana continues to be a front-runner in Africa as the continent’s tech ecosystem scales exponentially; what with the 119% mobile phone penetration (Jumia Report, 2018), which can arguably translate to equivalently putting a computer in a good number of people’s hands in Ghana.
Ghana is also currently an attractive investment hub for the logistics sector; however, still faces a skills gap in relation to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Information and Communications Technology (ICT). There is a high demand for STEM and ICT skills with Sub-Saharan Africa seeing a boom in the ICT industry which is set to continue growing, with Ghana acting as a leading hub Ghana alone is expected to offer 9 million digital jobs and nearly $4 billion in revenue potential by 2030.
Tech businesses in Ghana such as Leti Arts, Meqasa, Asoriba, SnooCode – don’t miss DIGILOGIC podcast with Sesinam, Founder of Snoocode - Complete Farmer and Trotrotractor have greatly benefited from direct foreign investments. Whether the business model is business-to-business, farmer-to-business, farmer-to-consumer, business-to-enterprise or business-to-consumer, there is undoubtedly more value being added in creating new market niches and in making already-existing markets and processes more effective.
Despite the significant growth potential in the start-up environment, challenges such as inadequate laws and regulations regarding entrepreneurship, developing but limited infrastructure and inadequate access to capital and market research still impede the development of the ecosystem.
Notwithstanding, Ghana’s relative stability has encouraged a viable entrepreneurship environment.
The start-up ecosystem environment in Ghana has increased efforts to create tech unicorns in the Agritech, Fintech, Insurtech, Healthtech and Real Estate Development Tech industries that are consistently identifying problems and providing solutions.
The three main stakeholders that influence the start-up ecosystem include the government, the startups and the ecosystem builders. One such ecosystem builders is MEST Africa, headquartered in Accra, Ghana. At MEST Africa, entrepreneurs are equipped with the necessary skills to start their own software companies and compete in the Global Market.
Additionally, the Ghana Tech and Business Hubs (GTBH) Network, which consists of hubs across Ghana, have come together to use shared ideas and resources to develop human resources and equip innovative individuals with the requisite skills, build capacity to grow local innovations & businesses and generate income. This has given hubs a collective voice to advocate for the right policies for an enabling environment and help grow traction for their sustainable operations.
With challenges identified, such as not enough coordination amongst ecosystem builders and the lack of regulations and policy frameworks, there is the need for stakeholders to collaborate and work together more effectively and strategically to improve the start-up ecosystem in Ghana. There is also the need to build linkages and collaboration between universities and the network of hubs and incubators.
Ghana Tech Lab (Accra): An Open collaborative Space for competent Digital skills training, seeding Innovations and Growing Startups. Provides the platform for idea building through our Makerspace, CreativeSpace, AI Lab, Blockchain Lab, Robotics Lab, Cybersecurity Lab, IoT Lab and VR lab. (Source: Ghana Tech Lab)
iSpace (Accra): This Foundation is an Innovation and Technology hub in Accra, Ghana founded in February 2013. iSpace is known to offer a conducive environment for growth in the Start-up Ecosystem by providing a working space, Training and Mentoring, access to Funding and other facilities for Entrepreneurs and Start-ups to launch and manage their business ideas. (Source: iSpace)
Kosmos Innovation Center Ghana (Accra): Or the KIC - invests in young entrepreneurs and small businesses who have big ideas and want to see their country grow. The KIC was established in Ghana in 2016 with programs focused on inspiring and empowering young entrepreneurs to drive change in their own country. Since its inception, the KIC has focused on innovation in agriculture – the country’s most important sector and largest employer. More than 400 aspiring entrepreneurs have participated in KIC Ghana programs, resulting in the creation of 11 promising start-ups that have gone on to secure seed funding, additional business training, and capital investment. (Source: Kosmos Innovation Center)
MEST Africa (Accra): An Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa. Founded in Ghana in 2008, MEST provides critical skills training, funding, and support in software development, business, and communications to Africa’s tech entrepreneurs. Hubs are located in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. MEST is funded by the Meltwater Foundation, the non-profit arm of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence and Outside Insight. (Source: MEST)
Stanbic Bank Incubator (Accra): The Incubator is 3rd generation Business Incubator, a corporate social initiative set up by Stanbic Bank Ghana, a member of the Standard Bank Group, to contribute towards the promotion and development of entrepreneurship among the youth and women in Africa. (Source: Stanbic Bank Incubator)
Africa AI Accelerator (Accra): Ghana Tech Lab in partnership with GIZ’s AI and technology entrepreneurship initiatives of “FAIR Forward” and Make-IT in Africa and IBM launched this Accelerator Program in 2020 to support the scaling of the next generation of Africa’s AI start-ups.
Tech By Her Accelerator (Accra): The Accelerator will address the unique challenges of the female tech entrepreneur. It is a 3-month industry-agnostic program for ten (10) female founders of early-stage tech companies in Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria. The program aims at fuelling growth among female-led businesses by recognizing and maximizing the unique strengths of the female entrepreneur and equipping them with the needed knowledge, tools, and resources to scale and sustain their businesses in a competitive environment. (Source: VC4A)
MEST’s latest report on The Ghanaian Ecosystem of Tech Startups and SMEs explores further what all players in Ghana’s business and technology ecosystem can do to unleash the full potential of Ghana’s ecosystem with direct impact on the growth of tech startups and SMEs.