The United States Agency for International Development (USAID), through its Market Systems and Resilience Activity, is to develop a roadmap to strengthen business development service providers within its influence zones to better serve women, youth and persons with disability.
The move is in line with the rural entrepreneurial ecosystem initiative of the Market Systems Resilience (MSR) Activity in Ghana, which aimed to increase inclusive agricultural-led economic growth in the northern part of the country.
A validation workshop had, therefore, been held in Tamale to confirm research findings to guide the development of rural entrepreneurship ecosystems in the area.
The study, conducted within the last four months, involved mapping the entrepreneurial agricultural service providers in the 17 districts in the four regions where USAID’s MSR Activity was being implemented.
These are the Northern, North East, Upper East and Upper West regions.
The mapping investigated current linkages amongst business development and small service providers that supported small-holder farmers and small and medium enterprises in agribusiness led by women, youth and PwDs.
Amongst the findings was a disconnect between business development services and real services needed by women, youth and PWDs.
The validation workshop brought about 80 stakeholders together to review and confirm the findings and way forward for strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystem in the four regions.
These include the private sector business groups, government institutions, development community, academia, farmer organisations and traditional authorities.
Mr Cecil Osei, the Deputy Chief of Party, USAID MSR Activity, said: “The whole idea of the study is to use the evidence to build a strong ecosystem of entrepreneurial services, especially in the rural communities where now you do not have a lot of business services supporting people, who want to go into business.”
“This drive by the Activity is to ensure that people develop the capacity and the acumen to start and maintain businesses in our rural communities, especially young people, women and PwDs, to be able to develop businesses, thrive, make profits, and grow.”
The study showed how much each of the services were needed, people’s demand for the service, and where demand was more than the provision to make the necessary amends, he said.
Mr Osei expressed the hope that the roadmap would build very good ecosystems where people in need of entrepreneurial services would find them at their doorsteps or around somebody ready to deliver at an affordable rate and in a sustainable manner.
Dolores Dickson, Executive Director, Densu Associates, said: “Through the study, we got a picture of who and who are doing what within the zone of influence and serving particularly women, PwDs, and youth.”
She said a roadmap would be designed on how to work closely with the BDS organisations to strengthen them to provide better services to clients.
Mr Alexander Kojo Tetteh, President, Ghana Chamber of Entrepreneurs with Disabilities, lauded the initiative saying it would empower them to do business and be sustainable, profitable and self-reliant.