XVI Swiss Re Start-Up Academy in Ghana
Written by Alexandra Spälti, Aiducator Switzerland.
Start-Up Academy Ghana
Aiducation International held its first Start-Up Academy in Ghana in cooperation with its new partner Junior Achievement Ghana and our long-term partner Swiss Re. 48 brilliant students from all over Ghana with a financially disadvantaged background were selected to participate in a one week training, which may change their life forever. Each and every one of the students wished to start their own business to create jobs and ultimately do their share in creating a better Ghana.
On the first day of the academy, the tension and excitement in the venue was tangible as the Students and Swiss Re Mentors met for the first time in anticipation of the week. On the first day, Zuri Harris, a Ghanaian entrepreneur told the story of her transformation from a girl with a dream to a successful business owner. This showed the students what they can achieve if they are only brave enough to follow their dreams and turn their passion into business. Triggered by this inspirational speech, the students started to work eagerly on their own business ideas. Over the next days the Swiss Re mentors guided the students through the process of turning a business idea into a business plan. Even though, the mentors were supportive in this process, all the challenges had to be solved by the students themselves. The transformation within the groups was huge or as Carl from Swiss Re put it “We were doing a one-year course within one week.”
Every input session given by Swiss Re or local mentors was immediately used by the students to refine their business plan. And the amount of work and detail they put into their businesses was simply stunning. By the end of the week, we did not see students pitching their business ideas to a jury or mentors. We saw dedicated entrepreneurs pitching their business plan to investors. The groups which were formed on the first day to join forces for one idea had become real teams. Everybody had its role and responsibilities and all businesses were very well planned and ready to be executed. The businesses ranged from farming to recycling and fashion, but one thing they all had in common was that they solved a social problem. This is a stunning development keeping in mind, that what these students probably lacked most during their live was financial means, yet they do not focus on that but rather want to reduce pollution and unemployment.
All we can say after this inspiring week in Ghana is THANK YOU! Thank you to all the participants, each and everyone of you has the potential and now also the tools to become an entrepreneur. We can’t wait to see the way you make Ghana a better place.