Meet The 10 Ghanaian Hubs Identifying And Building Startups
Years ago, we had nothing like startups, hubs, accelerator programs, etc., in Ghana. Even if we did, the terms had not yet been clearly defined. Now, these are words thrown around daily. The ecosystem is bubbling with startups such as Fintech players OZE and Zeepay, Healthtech players Redbird and DrugNet, Edtech players eCampus and ScratchtApp, and Agritech players Akofresh and EBAPreneur.
We can also identify hubs that have positioned themselves within the ecosystem to educate, encourage and create an enabling environment for startups and SMEs to grow. Some months ago, a few hubs collaborated to launch the national accelerator program for startups in the country. These hubs have proven to be communities focused on innovation and technological advancement. They are Ghana Tech Lab/Ghana Tech Lab Campus, Code Coast, Yison Tech Hub, Women’s Haven, MDF West Africa, Kumasi Hive, Northern Innovation Lab, Dansyn ISO, ICODE Hub, and SE-Hub. Here is a brief background story of these hubs.
Ghana Tech Lab: GTL takes simple ideas and turns them into big startups. They aim to become the platform for digital innovations in Africa and beyond. Since its inception in 2018, the hub’s unique programs and curriculum have been designed to turn startups’ ideas into product/solution that addresses a situation in society. Its three-month base program begins with an intensive digital skills training program. Trainees are equipped with the top-notch skills that prepare them to develop their ideas. Afterwards is the incubation training, a one-month training program, which combines technical skills with business skills training. At this stage, trainees build companies with proven business models. During and post-incubation, startups are formed through its GSS program. These startups are given grants to develop their ideas into world-class startups. Applicants are also put on internship programs with various partners to help hone their skills.
Additionally, the hub runs base programs. The first-ever training is National Mobile App Development Training, the second cohort; National Artificial Intelligence Training, the third cohort, National Web Development Training. This year, the hub launched the National Digital Media Training and is currently handling the National Mobile App Development Training with Flutter. Some startups GTL has identified are Madepam, XtraCash, Xpendly, WeTravels, and Bra Afrika.
Yison Tech Hub: Yison Tech Hub is a Ghanaian-based non-profit organisation that promotes tech innovation for rapid prototyping of ideas budding local innovations impact. They also support startups and encourage youth entrepreneurship to address critical social, economic, and development challenges. Yison achieves this by providing Training and Mentoring. The hub incubates and nurtures startups for six months. Each startup is allocated to a mentor and a coach from the idea stage who help them develop and validate their ideas. At the incubation stage, each startup is supposed to have an MVP (minimum viable product). They also nurture and educate existing businesses, and they run training programs for corporate bodies, churches, individuals, children and more in various business and technology-related fields. Yison occasionally organises bootcamps, seminars and meetups on web development, Microsoft Office suites, artificial intelligence (AI), entrepreneurship and many others. Moreover, they provide a comprehensive funding database, ranging from grants, equity, debt, venture capital and competitions to sponsorships.
Women’s Haven: Women Haven Africa is an innovative entrepreneurial female hub creating a friendly and productive environment for the growth and development of women-led businesses, projects, and initiatives. Women Haven Africa provides business support services and connects innovative young women, startups, women-led organisations, and women leaders with the tools and resources to thrive.
Founded in 2019, Women Haven Africa seeks to produce an empowered and influential community of female innovators who provide viable and sustainable solutions for various challenges faced in the world and focus on increasing women’s participation in Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Technology.
They have a pool of coaches and mentors ready to provide tailored coaching and mentorship to startups and the hub community. Moreover, they provide an enabling environment and platform for networking through community events and external programs that facilitate networking. These events allow members to build networks and co-create innovative solutions.
Kumasi Hive: Many young entrepreneurs look to family and friends for start-up funds for their businesses. Crowdfunding offers the possibility of pooling these funds in a formal structure to build a financial history that allows financial service providers to engage these entrepreneurs better. Per this, The UNCDF crowdfunding project aims at offering alternative financing options for youth entrepreneurs’ access to seed capital now more than ever. To accelerate the process, Kumasi Hive is the implementing partner in the Ashanti Region focused on providing entrepreneurship and incubation training to the selected applicants for each cohort, targeting 2500 beneficiaries.
In 2020, the ICE — innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship — Unemployed graduates and selected out of school initiative launched. The initiative is aimed at 25,000 unemployed youth (graduates from tertiary, vocational institutions and selected school drop-outs with innovative ideas) to start and operate successful business ventures. Kumasi Hive trained and equipped 273 entrepreneurs and SMEs with entrepreneurship and business leadership skills out of this. The program is still ongoing.
Also, in 2020, Kumasi Hive, together with the Youth Employment Agency, provided entrepreneurship training support to 400 young business owners from Ofinso Municipal, Offinso North, Sekyere Kumawu, and Ejura — Sekyedumase Districts, respectively as part of the agencies initiative to support the youth between the ages of 15 to 35 years through business development training and to transit from a situation of unemployment to that of employment. Its business accelerator program focus on non-hardware startups program provides complete startup support services for early-stage startups to help achieve growth, contributing to the sustainable socio-economic growth of Africa.
Northern Innovation Lab: The lab is a consultancy and support system for both ICT and Social focused entrepreneurs and SGBs who aspire to create great companies leveraging the unique opportunities in Africa. Since 2018, NIL has supported the community’s growth, passionate about the role of technology in transforming Ghana. NIL provides contemporary and top-notch business consultancy services, including business design, business strategy and business development. NIL again offers premium business consultancy solutions for startups and corporates.
MDF West Africa: MDF exists to enhance the fulfilment and performance of individuals and their organisations to better themselves. Their specific goals include improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity and performance. They help individuals build upon and shape their previous knowledge through an extensive experimental learning process. With the knowledge and skills retained, members can adapt to organisational change and impact society. They offer the complete package of consultancy services: advisory, coaching, facilitation & process consultation, evaluation, project management, interim management and tailor-made training courses.
Dansyn ISO: Dansyn is an NPO (non-profit organisation) that aims to support youth entrepreneurship and IT capabilities in the Upper East Region and beyond. Dansyn Innovation Social Organization (Dansyn ISO) is one of Dansyn’s lines of business to provide business development support to the youth who want to grow their businesses but cannot procure professional services from profit-oriented organisations.
The company sprung out of Dansyn Ghana Ltd, which is also into business development support and consultancy but operates as a company limited by shares. Dansyn ISO supports small businesses to achieve strategic and managerial goals. They help the youth acquire business skills, especially in IT and entrepreneurship. They provide business incubation and acceleration programs to individuals and organisations. To liberate businesses and individuals from dogma and set the pace for innovation and a new way of life. To provide a paradigm shift from the status quo while giving businesses and individuals a voice and opportunity to think outside the box for solutions to their challenges.
ICODE Hub: ICODE is a technology and business innovation hub that provides resources such as training, space, and funding for startups, youth and existing business owners, and students to help them build capacity. ICODE, established in 2016, has trained over 240 startup founders. 15% of these startups received direct funding from the government to expand their businesses and create more employment opportunities. 85% of them received funding and business support through contributions made from partner companies, directly built on the capacity of 900 young people in a remote town in the Western Region called Dixcove.
Social Entrepreneurship Hub: SE-HUB teaches effectual entrepreneurship to social entrepreneurs whose business activities impact lives and communities. The need to build social businesses with the welfare of its workers and the environment at heart has been the core of the Social Entrepreneurship Hub (SE-HuB). Orientating Ghanaian companies to use suitable business models started around 2015. The team has worked in some African countries promoting local businesses and introducing entrepreneurs to productive and sustainable entrepreneurship, working on projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Germany.
Code Coast: Code Coast is a tech hub located in Cape Coast, the central region of Ghana. Code Coast was established in 2019 to provide training to build world-class competitive software engineers and support entrepreneurs.