Twelve Ashesi alumni have been selected as inaugural fellows for Ashesi's new entrepreneurship support programme, the Ashesi Venture Incubator. The Venture Incubator is a one-year incubation experience for recent graduates and alumni of the university. Over the course of one year, fellows are provided with the opportunity to build their business; and refine their business models through the incubator’s provision of business coaching from local and global business leaders, business development sessions, support services, and financial stipends.
The twelve are David Boanuh '19, Dzifa Anagblah '19, Emmanuel Asaam '14, Kelvin Degbotse '19, Kevin Blanson '19, Ezekiel Hormeku '19, Grace Amponsah '17, Comfort Appiah '19, Audrey S-Darko '19, Derick Omari '18, Jenipher Panashe '19 and Nature Akoto '17.
Accelerating Entrepreneurship Potential in Ghana
The incubator is part of a USAID funded initiative co-led by Ashesi and the of the MIT D-Lab. The NEXTi2i Project (New Entrepreneurs Xchange for Transformation: Idea to Impact) was launched in November 2018, in response to the USAID's Accelerating Local Potential programme. The programme supports partnerships between U.S and African universities to deepen a key strength of the African university. For Ashesi, that key strength was entrepreneurial leadership.
Under the partnership, Ashesi identified three areas that the MIT D-Lab could help us grow our strength in: introducing the teaching and practice of Lean Research, building an incubator programme focused on the Sustainable Development Goals and increasing collaboration in Ghana’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Led by Entrepreneurship faculty Jewel Thompson, the Ashesi Venture Incubator is inspired by MIT D-Lab’s Scale-Ups program, and primarily targets graduating Ashesi students and recent alumni. With an open call and recommendations from faculty, the incubator accepts applications with proofs-of-concept, and recruits based on the strongest applications. The twelve inaugural fellows start their programme in September 2019.
A Broader Vision for Entrepreneurship Training in Ghana
In addition to helping Ashesi launch the Venture Incubator, the Ashesi-MIT D-Lab partnership also supports the teaching of Lean Research - a research methodology developed by the MIT D-Lab - in Ghana. The concept has been introduced in a few courses on campus, and a number of faculty and staff have undergone initial training on its practice. In June, Ashesi also hosted workshops that covered 81 selected participants, including training leads from NGOs and startup incubator hubs across Ghana.
By convening hubs and NGOs across Ghana, the NEXTi2i project aims to increase the impact and potential of the country's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Led by MIT D-Lab’s ecosystems expert, Molly Rubenstein, Ashesi hosted participants from seven different stakeholder groups of the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Ghana to participate in a design sprint, with the goal of identifying and developing solution concepts for implementation.
"Over the next year, we expect approximately half of the teams to actually implement the solution concepts developed," shared Dr. Gordon Adomdza, Director for the NEXTi2i project at Ashesi. "For example, a team is developing the concept of legal desks which will build templates of legal documents for startups across the country, and negotiate access to discounted legal services that are curated for startups."