MSM: Hello, and welcome to My Story Magazine. We are privileged and elated to have with us Her Excellency Anne-Sophie Avé – I call her versatile. You’re welcome.
H E: Thank you.
DISCUSSIONS ON ENTREPRENEURSHIP
MSM: What are your thoughts on the idea of entrepreneurship in Africa? What do you think Africa is doing differently when it comes to entrepreneurship? Or what did you think that Africa or even particularly Ghana needs to develop when it comes to the subject of entrepreneurship?
HE: I think what Ghanaian entrepreneurs need to develop is their self-confidence. They have incredible creativity, dynamism, enthusiasm and yet they are facing hurdles. Access to capital is one, structuring governance is another one. It’s a different job being creative, innovative, making a product or a service, and then running a company that is something quite formal. After all, they have to be able to present and pitch their business to bankers and these bankers or investment partners will need a formal presentation so that they can see where the entrepreneurs want to go and know how to get on board. And I think that they have the first ingredients; enthusiasm, dynamism, creativity, genius sometimes, and what they need is help for them to grow from a brilliant idea, test and experience it to see if it is working on a small scale to grow up to a bigger scale. I think that there is such a strong dynamic in Ghana, hence so many people who are creative and want to run their business say “I cannot start a business until I have capital, and I need capital to start a business”. Yes, indeed you may need some capital, but when you look at the businesses that are now international, for instance I’m thinking of one French shop that you can now find at every corner of every street, which is called Nicolas. The guy started by buying one bottle of wine and selling it back. With the little profit, he bought another bottle and then sold it and then made more profit. He was able to buy two bottles and sell them, and with the little profit continued the process. He started very small and he is now selling millions of bottles everywhere in France and internationally. So yes, you may need a little money to start buying the first bottle, but thinking too big from the very beginning is not necessary. I see many entrepreneurs who have a good idea and come and say, I need a million to get started. It cannot work like that, you should start very small to test the market, your product, your services, and if you can show that it works on a small scale, then you will find partners who will say, okay, let’s expand.
DISCUSSIONS ON SMEs
MSM: How are you helping people from France to be able to set up properly here in Ghana? In this era of digitization, are there any projects that the Embassy is focusing on with regards to startups or SMEs in Ghana and as well as in France?
HE: There are two different things. On one hand, we are helping French companies to settle here by explaining the regulations and the business climate in Ghana. On the other hand, we are helping Ghanaian startups and SMEs to develop through grants and loans with better rates.
Digitization is another thing that we are doing by helping companies to go digital and to be able to sell their products through online platforms.
We are also working on a project that would be like a virtual business centre, where companies would be able to find every information they need; from the regulations, tax-payments, how to start a business, how to make a provisional budget, how to do strategic marketing communication, and how to improve theirgovernance. One would also be able to learn how to prepare the necessary documents so that they can go and meet bankers or investors to pitch their company or project.