Category: Business


Is This the Woman Who Will Save Uber?

A little over a year before Bozoma Saint John became the first chief brand officer at Uber, the transportation company’s best hope to rehabilitate its tarnished image, she hailed a ride from the Four Seasons hotel in Austin, Tex., to a nearby business dinner. What pulled up was a wreck.

“Hey, nothing’s going to happen to me in this car, right?” Ms. Saint John said half-jokingly to the driver. “You can drive, right?”

She expected him to banter back. Instead, he told her that a group of taxi drivers at the airport had vandalized the vehicle and that he needed the money from this ride to fix it. He also mentioned that he had been saving to see Iggy Pop, his late brother’s favorite rocker, at the South by Southwest festival, which Ms. Saint John was attending as the head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple Music.

She gasped. Her dinner was with Iggy Pop. Would the driver, perhaps, like to come along?

Cue the tears (and the five-star passenger rating).

“Everybody was like: ‘What’s happening? Is this your date? I don’t understand. Why is this guy here?’” Ms. Saint John said. “It was such a beautiful, human moment,” one that was chronicled on her Instagram account, @badassboz, where she has more than 40,000 followers.

“We’re all rushing in our lives, and I was so concerned with getting from here to there, and if not for the moment of humanity where we just started talking, that connection would not have happened,” she said. “What a miss that would have been. What a miss!”

This story was part of what convinced Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post and a high-profile member of Uber’s board, that Ms. Saint John was the right person to shepherd Uber out of its recent thicket of legal and ethical scandals.

She moved to New York, and through a temp agency got gigs as a catering server and a receptionist for an Upper East Side dog-washing salon. She also began going to nightclubs, where she made friends with influencers like Rene Mclean, who ran a D.J. boot camp. Her temp agency sent her to SpikeDDB, Spike Lee’s advertising firm. Mr. Lee had fired his assistant and wanted someone to answer phones while he looked for a new one.

“She walked in, she got the job,” he said. “It was evident that she was going to go places.”

Ms. Saint John went from making coffee runs to helping Mr. Lee brainstorm campaigns, like casting Beyoncé, who had just left Destiny’s Child, as Carmen in aPepsi commercial.

“That became the turning point where, O.K., I can actually use my knowledge of pop culture, running around these streets with my friends, knowing the inside track on things, to help inform business decisions,” she said. She also met her husband-to-be, an advertising executive, in the company cafeteria.

After a stint selling smoking cessation products for GlaxoSmithKline, Ms. Saint John took a marketing job at Pepsi, coming up with projects like the “Pepsi DJ Division,” which included D.J. Khaled.

In 2013, she orchestrated the halftime show Pepsi sponsored at the Super Bowl featuring Beyoncé. Four months later, her husband’s illness was diagnosed. Their daughter had just turned 4.

“Towards the end of his life, as everything started to fail, he was very adamant that I not stop what I was doing,” Ms. Saint John said. “He was telling me to hold his hands because he couldn’t grasp anymore, saying, ‘Promise me, you’re going to keep going.’”

On the 13th anniversary of their first date, Ms. Saint John posted a status update on Facebook, saying in part, “we reflect over our years together as he has a chemo cocktail and I drink red wine in a paper cup.” Mr. Saint John died in December 2013. Ms. Saint John, true to her word, kept going. In February 2014, Jimmy Iovine, a founder of Interscope Records, found out she was in Los Angeles for a sister’s wedding and requested a meeting at his house in Malibu. He had just started Beats Music, a streaming service, with her teenage idol, Dr. Dre. Who was Mr. Iovine? How did streaming work? She wasn’t quite sure, but she drove to the beachside residence.

“We ended up talking for four hours,” Ms. Saint John said. “I was raw. I needed something to give me some hope for the future. I needed something that could help me see further. When he was talking about all this newfangled stuff, I said: ‘That sounds like the future! I’m going to the future!’”

Ms. Saint John quit Pepsi and moved to Los Angeles as the head of global marketing for Beats. Her role expanded when Apple acquired Beats for $3 billion in 2014, and she came up with popular ad campaigns for Apple Music, like a 2015 commercial in which Mary J. Blige, Kerry Washington and Taraji P. Henson bond over post-breakup songs in a light and palm-frond-filled mansion (“Siri, play ‘I Will Survive,’” Ms. Washington says). Last year, Ms. Saint John walked on stage at Apple’s developers’ conference — the first black woman to do so — blasting old-school rap and commanding the room of mostly white men to bounce to the beat.Wired wondered, “Who the hell is this badass woman, and how did Apple keep her secret for so long?”

After hearing Ms. Saint John’s story of her Austin ride, “I had a flash — ‘Wow, she’d be great at Uber,’” Ms. Huffington said. “I thought she would be a great person to tell these amazing stories of our drivers, to touch people’s hearts, to bring more humanity to the brand.”

In May, Ms. Saint John and Travis Kalanick, an Uber founder and then chief executive, spent eight hours at Ms. Huffington’s home in Los Angeles, discussing what she might do for the company, both grand and simple.

“I think I might need to wear a disguise, but I want to drive,” she said. “What happens when someone gets in the car and they’re upset? Is that a moment? Do you just stay quiet or do you talk?”

Mr. Kalanick would step down as chief executive a month later. The hunt is on for his successor. But whoever it is will have Ms. Saint John helping steer from the passenger seat, stilettos and speakers on.

Source: www.nytimes.com

Ghana Diaspora HomeComing Summit 2017 – Day 2 Round Up

Here’s a round of what took place on day two of the Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit:

  • The theme was the Human Resource Marketplace and addressed wide ranging issues from converting the ‘brain drain’ to ‘brain gain’, how tertiary institutions and industry can collaborate to reduce the skills gap, how institutions such as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been mobilising diaspora groups in Ghana for over 30 years and addressing how we can develop a more productive and efficient work ethic.
  • After Mr. Alex Dadey, Chairman of the Summit Planning Committee, made a brief address to the audience and recapped an overview of Day 1’s activities Hon. Robert Ahomka-Lindsay, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry gave a strong call to action calling on diasporans to not just point out challenges but to also be part of the solution in an active and impactful way. Drawing on his own experiences in the Diaspora he called on the diaspora to be realistic, manage expectations and to use the same level of resilience used to survive in their new host countries in Ghana. He also shared several points which he called Home Truths to encourage the diaspora to engage differently in order to bring cohesion and more collaborative partnerships with Ghanaian locals.
  • Hon. Ignatius Bafuor Awuah MP, Minister for Employment and Labour Relations followed, giving an overview of Ghanaian employment statistics (youth employment is estimated at 12-24%) and the experiences of Ghanaians abroad, particularly in the Gulf and called for Ghanaians to contribute to the national economy where protections and regulations seek to safeguard its workers.
  • Princess Naa Ocansey, MD of SOS Labour Ghana Limited began with a rousing call for diasporans to come home saying as “Uncle Sam needs Americans, Uncle Nana Addo needs you!” She encouraged and promoted the idea of circular legal migration which involves working in Ghana for short periods of time (e.g. 6 weeks, 6 months or even a year) and returning to host country. Deemed a “triple win” with host, home and the diasporan in question benefitting from circular migration, Princess Naa announced the development of a Diasporan National Service which SOS Labour Ghana Ltd, amongst others are developing. Key to its creation was the idea that second generation diasporans are often not involved or included and do not have the same networks or connections as their parents.
  • Sylvia Lopez-Ekra of IOM Ghana discussed the Connecting the Diaspora for Development (CD4D) programme which is aimed at harnessing skills transfer in many countries including Ghana through its diaspora, particularly in the agriculture and health sector. Ms. Lopez-Ekra also mentioned that Ghana remains a strong example of diaspora engagement and is regularly used as a reference point for the diaspora agenda. It was also emphasised that more needs to be done to integrate second-generation Ghanaians abroad who may not have citizenship but are doing wonderful things to celebrate the name of Ghana.
  • Ms. Josephine Nkrumah, Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education called on us to not conform to the systems that do not work but to bring change to Ghana. Ms. Nkrumah focused on the need to move from an unproductive work ethic common in Ghana to one of discipline, accountability, integrity and excellence.
  • Mrs. Ellen Hagan, MD of L’AINE focused on bridging the skills gap of youth relative to universities and industry. She called on us to be innovative and to have an entrepreneurial mind to identify gaps and assess whether these gaps can be converted into an opportunity to grow and create employment and build skills.
  • Mr. George Asomaning introduced us all to DENI – Direct Expatriate Nationals Investment, a financial instrument which allows all Ghanaians regardless of location to invest. There is no minimum investment and similar to other stocks and financial products pays a dividend based on performance. He encouraged all of us to get involved as it launches. (Date not given)
  • Mr. Hayford Atta-Krufi, CEO of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) discussed the eligibility and security for all diasporans in terms of retirement schemes and pensions. He highlighted that it is very simple to transfer pensions from abroad to Ghana (a formal letter to the NPRA has to be written to begin to process) and is working with the Diaspora Relations Office to make this information more readily available.
  • Dr. Thomas Mensah, a pioneer in fibre optic technology joined us via live stream and presented on new plans for infrastructure projects including Kumasi Airport and a new railway system.
  • A new Diaspora Engagement Policy is being drafted and under consultation but will be launched soon. (Date not given)
  • After workshops on the Diaspora Investment Experience, Technical Capacity Building of Entrepreneurs, Practical Application of DENI and Entry into the Oil & Gas Sector. A presentation on the Marine Drive Investment project slated to change the landscape of Accra through tourism was given by the Office of Tourism, Creative Arts and Culture. 
  • Wogbejeke, a theatre production by the Bambu Centre tracing the history of Ghana from pre-colonial times until now gave a performance.
Audience questions (asked throughout the day)
  • How does the government intend to involve and empower the voices of those who are are not rich and are not elite in the Diaspora?
  • How is the Diaspora National Service programme being created? Who is being consulted?
  • Does age impact if you can work in government?
  • Why do non-Ghanaian expatriates receive better salary, packages and are generally more valued than Ghanaians from abroad with similar or more qualifications?
  • How feasible will the economies of the factories in the ODOF policy be?
  • What kind of support is being given to technology companies who want to support the ODOF policy?
  • How is the Diaspora being defined?
  • What diplomatic repercussions have their been for governments in the Gulf where Ghanaians are maltreated?
  • How can tertiary institutions and industry bridge the skills gap?
  • What is being done to change the ‘poor’ Ghanaian work ethic that was spoken about?
  • Why are foreign institutions such as NASA tell us as Ghanaians what is and isn’t possible?
  • If we move towards big tourism projects are we destroying local value and moving people from their homes?
  • If you’re investing into tourism, how are you attracting people to actually come and visit Ghana?

Ghana Diaspora HomeComing Summit 2017 – Day 1 Round Up

The Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit is a conference organized by the government of Ghana to establish relationships with the diaspora community.  The summit which started yesterday aims to harness capital for development purposes by encouraging Ghanaians abroad to invest in Ghana.

Below is a highlight of what took place yesterday:

  • Yesterday’s agenda was an entrepreneurial Ghana and focused on its economic transformation and the role the diaspora plays in that. From talks from Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta, Minister of Finance to Mr Yofi Grant of GIPC, there was a strong focus on the financial opportunities Ghana presents and the already established financial contribution of diasporans (through remittances which according to Mr Grant are greater than foreign direct investment (FDI)).
  • After the national anthem and an opening prayer, Mr. Alex Dadey, Chairman of the Summit Planning Committee ushered in Day 1 of the Summit by welcoming guests and emphasising the human and financial capital the diaspora brings along with experience and exposure to different ideas and perspectives. 
  • Mr. Dadey also made several humble requests of H.E. President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo in his welcome address. This included reviewing laws and policies which restrict diaspora participation and inclusion including ROPAA. He also asked that the GDHS become institutionalised allowing for a more frequent and fruitful dialogue.
  • Tuga performed the #GDHS17’s theme song live
  • H.E. President Nana Addo Akufo-Addo emphasised the importance he places on the diaspora and their full inclusion to move Ghana forward. He also highlighted that the accountability of his government extends to Ghanaians overseas as well as those in country and that the Diaspora Relations Office will be crucial in facilitating this. He then stressed the importance of all Ghanaians having a stake in the country’s development in order to move the country beyond aid.
  • A number of talks addressed some of the realities of doing business in Ghana, the opportunities, challenges, bottlenecks, public-private partnerships (PPPs), frameworks and policy. Speakers included Mr. Djabarnor Narh, partner at EY Ghana and Mr. David Ofosu-Dortey of AB & David
  • Rahul Gopinath of ECOM Agrotrade Ltd spoke about the changing face of entrepreneurship in Ghana and what that looks like today. According to Rahul, Ghanaian entrepreneurs needs 4 things: knowledge, mentor-ship, capital and enabling government policy.
  • Mr. Phillip Sowah spoke about institutional frameworks bring used to drive growth in capital markets and highlighted the key need to truly understand how much money Ghanaians abroad send and for what reasons. He argued that once we understand who, what and why, then financial instruments and other enabling policies can be designed to truly fit the diaspora’s needs.
  • Mr Yofi Grant – Ghana’s GDP growth is estimated at 7%+ next year.
  • GIPC has created a digital map highlighting the business opportunities across the 10 regions which will go online soon (no date given but shown in the PPT).
  • A study by EY shows that Ghana is ranked 4th for doing business in Africa and 1st in West Africa but the government intends on doing enacting business reforms including making processes digital. The aim is make Ghana the most business friendly place in Africa.
  • Hon. Alan Kyeremateng addressed the delegation honing in on remarks made earlier in the day by Hon. Ken Ofori Atta (amongst other speakers) about moving Ghana from a taxation economy to a production economy and spoke about moving Ghana from a economy exporting raw materials to creating production lines to increase the value of our exports substantially. He spoke specifically of steel and iron which would strengthen the construction industry and increase our competitiveness.
  • As Ghana has a think export base, the government intends to address that through industrialisation looking to China as an example.
  • Lots of interesting questions from the audience including the perceived hostility from Ghanaian nationals to those from abroad, the capacity of the energy sector, creating more efficiency at the ports, lack of information sharing and clear channels to learn more about opportunities in Ghana.
  • Government is keen to build a comprehensive database to understand where diasporans are located, their skills sets and how they can be utilised fruitfully.

Mefiri Ghana will keep you updated on the rest of the conference

UNDER 40 CEOs TO HOST THE LARGEST GATHERING OF YOUNG AFRICAN BUSINESS LEADERS IN EUROPE ON FRIDAY, 11TH AUGUST 2017!

With business entrepreneurs and ceo’s playing a key role in this era of globalization that demands mobility, innovation and ingenious kills to develop the worlds economies, especially in Africa, Under 40 CEO have created the perfect platform to share best practice in business, stories and appraise the progress of Global Influencers.

Coming on the back of its successful TV series on TVC News and Silverbird TV, and the sold out forum held at Renaissance Hotel in Lagos on February 2017, Under 40 CEOs is taking things up a notch, and are proud to announce its first ever UK forum, which will be the largest gathering of young African business leaders in Europe, with the explosive theme ‘How We Made It In Africa’.

Set to take place at The Ball Room, Millennium Hotels in Mayfair, London, speakers announced for the forum include Bola Ray, the CEO of the largest media network in Ghana, EIB Networks, investor and entrepreneur Ran Neu Ner, co-CEO of The Creative Counsel, the largest advertising agency in South Africa, and Ola Brown, the CEO of Flying Doctors, the first ever air ambulance network in West Africa.

Alongside the excellent CEOs Ola Brown, Ran Neu Ner and Bola Ray who have been gathered to speak at the Under 40 CEOs UK Forum, 50 participants of the forum will also be getting a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to pitch their businesses for funding to investor and entrepreneur Ran Neu Ner.

Hosting this gathering of young African business and thought leaders is none other than the brains behind the Under 40 CEOs Forum is Familusi Akin Babajide aka Mr. FAB CEO of The FAB Group

Speaking about the Under 40 CEOs UK Forum, Familusi Akin Babajide (FAB) says,
The event promises to answer all the questions pertaining to running a business to profitability in Africa. I am also excited about the 50 businesses that will potentially have the opportunity to pitch for and access funding to grow their business”.

Advanced tickets for the Under 40 CEOs UK Forum are available right now via SHOOBS and EVENTBRITE

Speakers Announced: Pan-African Women Forum #Changing Our Story

Face2face Africa invites you to the anticipated Pan-African Women Forum, the official kick-off event to the 2017 Pan-African Weekend

Come spend a sensational and memorable evening with powerful, trailblazing women of African descent from various industries as they share their inspirational journeys and important life and business lessons that will inspire and invigorate your life.

The forum will present two riveting panel discussions featuring women in business, technology, fashion, media, and more, followed by a Q&A session.

Featured Speakers 

Fumbi Chima, Chief Information Officer Burberry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucy Quist, Managing Director
Airtel Ghana

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ama K. Abebrese, Award-Winning Actress
“Beast of No Nation”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adenah Bayoh, Entrepreneur and Real-Estate Developer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abrima Erwiah,
Co-founder & President
Studio 189

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mushiya Tshikuka,
Entrepreneur & TV Personality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Speakers:

Dana Reed, CEO, The Africa Center
Uchente Emuleomo, VP of Corporate Counsel, Prudential

Cheryl Wills, TV Anchor, NY1
Chiney Ogwumike, WNBA Player
Wendy Osefo, Professor and Political Commentator
Mimi Plange, Fashion Designer
You can register for the event here

PRUDENTIAL FINANCIAL AND TOYOTA USA SIGN ON AS CO-PRESENTING SPONSORS OF THE 2017 PAN-AFRICAN WEEKEND NYC

The Pan-African Weekend to celebrate the best of the pan-African community with women’s forum, networking events, and formal awards gala

Prudential Financial Inc. and Toyota USA have signed on as co-presenting sponsors of the 2017 Pan-African Weekend produced by Face2face Africa.

In its 6th annual edition, the Pan-African Weekend is a multi-day event that highlights and celebrates the best of the pan-African community. The action-packed schedule includes the Pan-African Women Forum, the IAAPA Networking Mixer, and the closing Jazz Brunch.

The highlight of the weekend is the FACE List Awards, the most prestigious celebration of pan-African achievement in the Unites States, where pioneers and trailblazers of African descent are honored for their contributions and impact on society.

The Pan-Weekend Weekend has given us the unique opportunity to tell a new narrative on people of African descent in this country and around the world. We are proud to have Prudential returning for the second consecutive year as presenting sponsor, and we are thrilled that Toyota will be joining them this year as co-Presenting Sponsor.  Both companies have demonstrated their unyielding commitment to empowering and equipping members of our community with the tools and resources that we need to change our story”, said CEO of Face2face Africa Isaac. O. Babu-Boateng.

The 2017 Pan-African Weekend kicks off Thursday, July 13th, and concludes on Sunday, July 16th.

Speaking on the partnership with Face2face Africa, Dorinda Walker, Prudential Financial’s Vice President of Consumer Strategy and Key initiatives said:

Prudential’s ongoing sponsorship of Face2face Africa’s Pan-African Weekend is not just about discussing the type of financial services we provide. We’ve been able to share educational information with Pan-African community members on how to save, invest and reach their long-term financial goals. The attendees leave the Pan-African Weekend with Prudential top of mind, knowing that we are ready, willing, and able to work with them to achieve prosperity and peace of mind.

This year, Toyota USA has also joined the Pan-African Weekend as the official auto sponsor.

Toyota is proud to be a sponsor of Pan African Weekend, an event that celebrates the individuals in the Pan African community who are committed to transforming society,” said Mia Phillips, National Manager- Brand, Multicultural & Crossline Marketing Strategy.

For more information on the Pan-African Weekend, visit: panafricanweekend.com or contact info@f2fafrica.com.

REGISTER HERE

DR PAPA KWESI NDUOM IS RECIPIENT OF GUBA 2017 EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS AWARD

Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, Chairperson of Groupe Nduom and prolific Ghanaian businessman will be honoured with the GUBA 2017 Black Star Award for Excellence In Business at the Intercontinental Hotel in London on Saturday the 3rd of June 2017. The Excellence in Business award sponsored by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, recognises leading outstanding businesses that best demonstrate exceptional financial returns, strong growth, innovative strategies, and market leadership in their sector.

The GUBA Awards, now in their sixth year, seek to celebrate exceptional talent and commitment to advancement within the Ghanaian and British community. The prestigious ‘GUBA Black Star Award’ will be awarded to thirteen outstanding members of the Ghanaian, UK and African community, honouring them for their consistency, dedication to excellence and longstanding contributions to society.

 A product of Elmina, Central Region of Ghana, Dr Nduom is an esteemed academic who holds a Bachelors of Arts Degree in Economics, a Master of Science Degree in Management and a Doctorate Degree in Service Delivery Systems, in addition to other qualifications. He joined Deloitte & Touche in 1981 and became a partner in Milwaukee, USA in 1986.    He became the Chairman of the Board of Deloitte & Touche Africa Region in 2000. Co-owner of Groupe Nduom (an international conglomerate with close to 60 companies in countries across Africa, the UK and the United States), Dr Nduom has an impeccable record as an economist & management analyst. 

Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom has also made a considerable mark in Ghanaian politics. He has been elected an Assembly Member and also a Member of Parliament.  He has been a three-time presidential candidate.  Dr Nduom has also had the privilege of serving as minister of state for Economic Planning, Energy and Public Sector Reform between 2001 and 2007.

The GUBA Black Star award is in recognition of Dr Nduom’s exceptional business acumen in establishing and sustaining various successful ventures across numerous sectors. Tickets for the award can be purchased at www.gubaawards.co.uk/ticket/

Incoming Ghana government gives cocoa sector chance of fresh start

Ghana’s incoming government could give the country’s $2 billion cocoa industry a boost if it installs a more transparent executive at industry regulator Cocobod and implements reforms, industry sources said.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) said its priority is to push annual cocoa output in the world’s second-biggest producer above 1 million tonnes when it takes power in January under President-elect Nana Akufo-Addo using a series of fresh measures.

A big issue is the role of Cocobod chief executive. Industry officials said CEO Stephen Opuni’s position is vulnerable because he publicly supported President John Mahama who lost the Dec. 7 election.

Traders and buyers credit the regulator for maintaining the premium quality of Ghana’s cocoa and increasing the guaranteed minimum price paid to farmers to 70 percent of net free-on-board but they say greater access to Cocobod is crucial.

“For the last two years, it has been very closed and very difficult to meet with Cocobod,” one senior Ghana cocoa operative said in a comment echoed by several others.

Cocobod plays a unique role both regulating the sector and exporting beans through its Cocoa Marketing Company as well as distributing fertilizer, pesticides and seedlings.

Few were willing to speak openly for fear of antagonizing Cocobod and some said that in itself reduced accountability. Buyers said they were unwilling to challenge the regulator for fear of damaging business relationships.

“Nobody dares to stand up to Cocobod,” said one buyer, who declined to be named.

Cocobod CEO Opuni did not respond to requests for comment.

FILE PHOTO: Cocoa beans are pictured in Ghana’s eastern cocoa town of Akim Akooko September 6, 2012. REUTERS/Kwasi Kpodo/File Photo

Ghana accounts for up to 25 percent of global cocoa supply and the industry also contributes around 7 percent of GDP as well as up to one quarter of the country’s export earnings.

The NPP has established a transition team but is yet to name a finance minister, one of whose statutory roles is to oversee Cocobod.

Its manifesto outlines policies including re-activating mass spraying, replanting farms with high yield trees, improving local processing and compensating farmers for diseased trees.

The party will “ensure that farmers receive increased producer prices plus bonuses high enough to encourage them to produce more cocoa for export (and) ensure that the value that farmers receive for their produce is not diluted by depreciation of the cedi against the dollar”.

FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

Industry sources calculate Cocobod controls around half a billion dollars in funds per year, and must therefore increase its financial transparency and move towards depoliticising its dealings with farmers.

Several farmers said supporters of the outgoing National Democratic Party government gained better access to seedlings and inputs in the run-up to the vote than supporters of the opposition. Cocobod denied this.

At the same time, the regulator’s promise of free fertilizers, pesticides, spraying and seedlings had discouraged private sector participation and made farmers unhealthily dependent on free products rather than buying on the market.

“It’s not an effective system. It’s expensive and in the end not all farmers have access to these kinds of products. Because of the free elements the farmer has no opportunity to buy if he would have wanted to,” one senior market source said.

Others said it would be better if Cocobod’s role was reconfigured to focus solely on regulation, opening space for the private sector.

Ghana’s cocoa production peaked in the 2010/11 season at more than 1 million tonnes, dipped to under 750,000 tonnes in 2014/15 season before rebounding slightly last season.

One senior cocoa analyst said current production was running around 10,000 tonnes higher than the same point in the previous season. It would fall back in January and February but the mid-crop was expected to be strong, the analyst said.

However, the country needs to improve productivity per hectare. A step towards this is to map the size of each farm and count the number of farmers to get a more precise figure than the 800,000 that is often mentioned.

“We are looking forward to seeing all the things they (the NPP) have been promising,” Nana Johnson Mensah, a chief farmer of Western region south, told Reuters.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ghana-cocoa-idUSKBN1481Q5

Me Firi Ghana (@Me_FiRi_Ghana)

Launch of Boost Africa Initiative, a new integrated approach to boost young innovative entrepreneurs

Boost Africa Initiative, a unique partnership in support of innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa has been launched in Abidjan by the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) in partnership with the European Commission. The launch ceremony took place at the Headquarters of the AfDB in Abidjan in presence of EIB President Werner Hoyer, AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle and Stefano Manservisi, Director-General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission.

Boost Africa will contribute to fostering the development of an efficient entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa by supporting the earliest and riskier stages of the venture value chain, in an economically viable and sustainable way. Boost Africa aims to spur the entrepreneurial potential of the African youth to create innovative and compelling businesses with the capacity to compete regionally and globally, to attract domestic and foreign direct investment, to create new and quality jobs, and contribute to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

As a result of an initial combined investment of up to €150 million, the Initiative is expected to leverage up to 1 Billion Euro in additional investments in a high growth sector, and support over 1,500 start-ups and SMEs across the continent.

Pan-African in scope, the Boost Africa Initiative has three integrated pillars:
–       Firstly, Investment Program : equity investments in seed funds, business angels co-investment funds, accelerators’ follow-on funds, venture capital funds, etc. that invest in innovative start-ups and high-growth small and medium enterprises (SMEs);
–       Secondly, Technical Assistance Facility : a pool of grant resources to provide capacity building and disseminate best practices for the investment readiness of intermediaries, the business and technical assistance, training of investee companies and entrepreneurs, and the creation of local investors’ networks;
–        Thirdly, Innovation and Information lab : a platform for supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem by fostering innovation, knowledge development and partnerships, and incubating and piloting promising new ideas, as well as assessing and disseminating best practices.

“Boost Africa will help Africa’s young population to gain hope and confidence that they can succeed in realising their dreams and aspirations,” said AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina. “Africa’s future will be determined by the current youth and it is crucial that we create and support entrepreneurship opportunities for youth, generate success stories and show these as examples for other young people.”

EIB President Werner Hoyer said, “Boost Africa is a truly great initiative which will support African entrepreneurship and innovation, and nurture the continent’s new talent.  It is thus a concrete way of tackling the long-term factors fuelling poverty, instability and brain drain – many of which are at the origin of the migration crisis we all currently face -, and therefore make the Sustainable Development Goals a reality. I am proud that the EU and its Bank, the EIB, are operating in such effective partnership with the African Development Bank and other DFI’s to tackle the world’s pressing challenges.” President Hoyer added “What’s more, Boost Africa will hit the ground running, as the first start-ups and high-growth SMEs are expected to be supported already in 2017. These small businesses and the young men and women behind them are truly an inspiration. I believe they can teach us all something about dynamism and determination.“

Director-General for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission Stefano Manservisi said, “Boost will give a concrete push to innovation and spur the creation of new instruments which support financial inclusion, such as venture capital and impact investing which is in line with the European External Investment Plan approach. Thanks to a smart use of blended finance Boost aims at leveraging the full strength of two major financial institutions to venture into new areas of support for the new generation of African entrepreneurs and we want to give a particular focus on fragile and risky situations where financial services are not provided by the market. Boost is a concrete example of actions that reflect EU’s determination to create conditions for job creation for youth.”
Through Boost Africa, the EIB and AfDB are widening their investment scope to projects that are usually deemed too small, too risky and too time consuming, but which are key to foster entrepreneurship and high impact innovation. Boost Africa is also unique in the emphasis it is putting on a sizeable technical assistance envelope, alongside financing, as well as on its Innovation and Information Lab to strengthen the investment program’s investments.

Boost Africa leverages business and financial expertise from AfDB and EIB, as well as from a broad network of partners and stakeholders, to accelerate the growth and development of Start-ups in Africa, and will attract, make strategic use of and nurture a network of venture intermediaries for both financing and business development to boost African entrepreneurship. The comprehensive intervention approach is expected to contribute to the success and growth of start-ups in order to become significant businesses within their local environments.

“Africa is currently home to a boom in small businesses experimenting with innovative products, services or business models, often leveraging technology,” said Adesina. “This is the right time to support these enterprises with financial and technical resources to enable them to commercialise their innovations. Boost Africa will demonstrate to all Africans that they can and should take charge of their future. Boost Africa is a key initiative within the AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, one of the Bank’s High 5 priorities.”

Deploying a blended finance approach, the investment program expects to invest up to 25 – 30 smaller-sized equity investments into angel, venture capital and seed funds, which in turn fund start-ups and early stage businesses with high-growth and job creation potential in Africa. Boost Africa’s first investment is expected to be in Telecom Tide Africa Fund, an ICT fund investing in tech start-ups in West and East Africa. Africa Technology Ventures supporting innovative start-ups in East Africa and helping them to expand globally is also under appraisal.

The European Commission’s support is sought by partners and is being currently appraised by the Commission along with its conditions and amount, to enable senior tranche investments to be made by the EIB, AfDB and potential other investors and leverage private investment. The EIB contribution of €50 million will come from the Impact Finance Envelope of the ACP Investment Facility (a revolving fund established under the Cotonou Agreement, which is managed by EIB and is funded out of contributions by EU Member States through the European Development Fund). The AfDB will commit €50 million equity risk capital for investments. The Investment Program is expected to provide investors with adequate financial returns coupled with a superior developmental impact. The technical assistance envelope for Boost Africa will amount to €20 million while the Lab will receive approximately €10 million.

UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce Launches Investment Tour in Accra for British Businesses

The UK Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC) will host a multi-sector business trip to Accra for British companies, investors, exporters, importers and SMEs, in October 2016.

The five-day Ghana Investment Tour (GIT) will focus on showcasing collaborative and investment opportunities in Ghana’s technology, tourism and agriculture sectors, and provide a platform for UK firms, SMEs and investors to communicate with key regulators, potential local partners, and leading private sector players in the country.

The UKGCC, officially launching in Accra on 1st September 2016, is set up to facilitate and YlQZH9wrpromote trade and commercial relations between the UK and Ghana, and act as the voice for British businesses looking to access and engage with the Ghanaian market, whilst providing assistance to Ghanaian companies investing in the UK.

UKGCC’s CEO Tony Burkson, based in Accra, says: ‘Ghana remains an exciting prospect for British companies due to its historic trading relationships with the UK. British expertise and innovation is highly sought after in Ghana and the wider West Africa region. The Ghana Investment Tour is an opportunity for British companies to meet decision makers, regulators and potential business partners in Ghana. The UKGCC is excited to welcome British businesses to Accra in October for the Ghana Investment Tour.’

The UK is one of the largest foreign investors in Ghana, and several British brands already operate in the West African country, including Barclays, Standard Chartered, Vodafone, Tullow, Blue Skies, British Airways, G4S, Prudential, GlaxoSmithKline, and Diageo. Ghana is also a favoured choice for SME’s making their first steps exporting into Africa, with benefits such as skilled and trainable labour, immediate access to all the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) markets, and a large consumer base with a growing middle class.

GIT aims to give new, business-focused entrants to Ghana a packaged opportunity to research and act-upon their business and investment interests in the country, alongside a friendly team of UK and Ghanaian experts and professionals.

The tour is supported by the Development of International Trade (DIT) in Ghana (formerly UKTI) and is organised in partnership with AB2020, a British company that connects and highlights investors, businesses, projects and entrepreneurs operating in Ghana, and sub-Saharan Africa.

AB2020 Creator and UK-born Ghanaian Akosua Annobil, based in London, says: ‘From traditional investors and angel networks, to tech start-ups and the Africa Diaspora, we’ve seen a healthy rise in appetite to do business in Ghana over the past year. However, we’ve also found that due to misconceptions, lack of connections, and perhaps a limited understanding of the diverse opportunities and cultures in the country, many are unsure of how to start and where to navigate.

‘As a UK-based company with a Ghana focus we aim to ease those anxieties, which is why we’re excited to be partnering with the UKGCC on a series of Ghana Investment Tours for the British business community in October this year, and in to 2017.’

ECOWAS-LogoGhana is one of the largest economies within ECOWAS, and in terms of investment is currently ranked 70th out of 189 countries in the latest World Bank’s Doing Business Rankings, placing the country as the fifth most favourable place to conduct business in Africa after Mauritius (28th), South Africa (43rd), Rwanda (46th), Tunisia (60th), and the first in West Africa above countries such as Cote d’Ivoire (147th), Togo (149th), Benin (151st), Burkina Faso (167th) and Nigeria (170th).

With a shared history and cultural links, Ghana and the UK have a strong bilateral trade relationship, strengthened by a steady stream of ministerial and diplomatic visits from high profile figures in recent years, including HRH Prince Edward and Adam Afriyie, the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Ghana.

The Ghana Investment Tour (GIT) is running from Monday 17th to Friday 21st October 2016 in Ghana’s capital city Accra. Limited spaces are currently available for UK-based delegates who can register their interest via the UKGCC website http://ukgcc.com.gh or AB2020 http://africabusiness2020.com