Asking for a Minister of Start-up will be asking for too much. The least government can do is to actualise its commitment to the development of a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem through the establishment of a Start-up Bureau.
Start-ups are the economic powerhouses for the future contributing to tax revenues, job creation, improving our communities through social responsibility initiatives and building legacies for the next generation.
Ghanaians especially the youth are embracing the emerging entrepreneurial challenge in the field of technology, services, agriculture among others.
Every day, millions of business ideas are conceived in every corner of this nation. The social and economic potentials of these ideas are enormous and needed to be coordinated and guided to sustainable executions.
But the reality is that start-ups are competing on unfavourable regulatory regimes with SMEs and other big businesses. Just like babies, these start-ups needed to be protected from the challenging conditions characterising the business environment.
The exposure of these start-ups at their early stages to these conditions without specialised support from government can not guarantee their survivals. Not more than half of the many start-ups across all sectors can survive these regulatory realities.
Let me draw on my experiences from the agricultural sector to support my call.
First of all, I strongly support the need to regulate any sector by government but where such regulations create cumbersome, uncoordinated, expensive to observe regimes without any special provisions for business categories, one begins to question the commitment of government to growing the private sector.
The practice of business registration and annual certificate renewals, environmental and social impact permit, water use permit, business operating permit etc are run by different agencies with different office locations. Each has its own internal processes on doing business with them. Some involve the engagement of the services of highly qualified experts at high fees.
You cannot renew your business certificate at the Registrar-General department without an audited financial statement by an auditor, you cannot be granted an EPA permit without published scooping notice in national dailies, project impact analysis by a professional etc, water permit will not be granted for irrigation by the Water Resources Commission without water demand plan prepared by a professional etc, you are further required to pay for operating permit at the district assembly.
Although, the observation of all these regulations help in positioning start-ups as a globally competitive managed business, there is no motivation on the part of the entrepreneur to fulfil these expensive, cumbersome and uncoordinated activities. They relate to the soft side of start-ups and increases financial burdens in an already difficult economic fields. Some politician will argue that
They relate to the soft side of start-ups and increases financial burdens in an already difficult economic fields. Some politician will argue that its for these reasons that a sector like ours is given a tax holiday of 10 years. But to what end is a 10 years tax holiday, when you cannot honour your financial burdens in the first year to be in business for the next 10 years? These experiences in the agriculture sector may not be different from other sectors.
It is to this end, government must intervene to establish a Start-up Bureau with the mandate not limited to supporting start-ups to navigate these regulatory regimes (which relate to the soft side of the business) but to guide them onto sustainable path. This bureau can be an independent agency or created under existing agencies such as Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC). The Start-up Bureau should be the one-stop shop for all business advisory support for young people in
This bureau can be an independent agency or created under existing agencies such as Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC). The Start-up Bureau should be the one-stop shop for all business advisory support for young people in
The bureau will provide the services of business registration and certificate renewal, permits, financial services, training etc for free for start-ups. It should in no way be involved in direct funding of any start-up as that will be duplication of function of existing funding agencies (strengthen their funding capacities) such as Youth Enterprise Support (YES).
The benefits of such a bureau cannot be underestimated in the economic development agenda of this country. Government through this bureau will be able to collate data for future economic forecast with respect to taxation, job creation, GDP sectorial contribution among other. To ensure the true benefits are realised and meaningful contributions made to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of this country, this bureau must be depoliticised through appointments to functional offices, free and fair support systems to start-ups among others.
To ensure the true benefits are realised and meaningful contributions made to the entrepreneurial ecosystem of this country, this bureau must be depoliticised through appointments to functional offices, free and fair support systems to start-ups among others. Government must invest in resourcing this bureau as a truly national economic asset. We can not create the next Ghana Club 100 businesses without efforts like this.
Don’t ask for examples where these bureaus have been established and serving what purpose, Ghana can also innovate and lead the way in this! Our future economic prosperity depends on a well organised and coordinated entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Writer : Richard Nunekpeku
(Chief Farmer, Anyako Farms)