What is the current state of the startup and Ghanaian ecosystems, the main challenges they face and what opportunities are there to support startups and SMEs to drive socio-economic progress in Ghana?
Ghana has been identified as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa with the potential to do much more with its stable political economy, young, dynamic population, growing digital adoption and bankability of its population.
These factors have also influenced the growth of technology startups and SMEs in the country who have grand ambitions to achieve greater scale and impact.
The most recent research on The Ghanaian Ecosystem of Tech Startups and SMEs investigates what all participants in Ghana’s economic and technological ecosystem can do to fully realize Ghana’s ecosystem, which will have a direct bearing on the expansion of tech startups and SMEs.
The past three years, though challenging in many ways due to COVID 19, have witnessed exponential growth in startup activity, while the SME space in Ghana remains relatively underdeveloped. Both startups and SMEs are not yet close to creating the level of economic transformation witnessed in upper-middle (UMIC) and high-income countries (HIC) and desired in low-income (LIC) and lower-middle-income countries (LMIC).
The report looks to understand better the potential for increased tech entrepreneurship and innovation in Ghana and addresses three key questions:
- What is the current state of the startup and SME ecosystems in Ghana?
- What are the main challenges they face?
- What opportunities are there to support startups and SMEs to drive socio-economic progress in Ghana?
The key recommendations from this report are to significantly increase initiatives for startups and SMEs that increase access to relevant capital for startups and SMEs, deep technical and business skills and services, value chain consolidation and proliferation, and relevant and transformational strategic and operational capacity and capabilities.
The data and findings presented in this report are the outcomes of several research efforts conducted by MEST to help inform our strategy and design for three new programs that were rolled out in 2020. These three programs are addressing various challenges within the Ghanaian tech ecosystem for startups and SMEs:
- Pre-MEST: supporting young people to get digital skills so they can gain digitally-enabled work
- MEST Express: supporting early-stage digitally-enabled startups to grow and accelerate.
- MEST Scale: supporting established SMEs to scale.
Technology is no longer a standalone sector but a critical cornerstone for how work is and will be done in society. Used properly, technology in startups and SMEs have the amazing ability to positively impact people and communities.
MEST is an Africa-wide technology entrepreneur training program, internal seed fund, and network of hubs offering incubation for technology startups in Africa. For young aspiring and established African entrepreneurs, MEST Africa provides the skills, mindset, and experiences to build a globally successful tech company. Beyond tech and entrepreneurial skills training, MEST Africa provides a real-world advantage to entrepreneurs through funding, business incubation, and access to a global tech network.
Over the last 13 years, the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School for Technology (MEST) has supported young people and ventures in technology in Ghana and beyond. In 2020, in partnership with the
Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works in Ghana program, MEST started three new programs to scale its impact: Pre-MEST, MEST Express, and MEST Scale. In this report, we summarise the
outcomes of the research that served as the evidence-based design of the programs.