Young entrepreneurs must make social impact a priority – UNICEF

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 Mr. Fiachra McAsey, the UNICEF Deputy Representative, has advised young entrepreneurs to make social impact a priority in the establishment of businesses and delivery of services.

Speaking with the Ghana News Agency on the side-lines of the unveiling of the second cohort of the UNICEF’S startup laboratory programme in Accra on Monday, Mr. McAsey said such impact would enable entrepreneurs and their businesses to attract the huge number of investors available, as well as attain market presence.

He noted that there were many investors willing and ready to invest in startups in the country, however, such investors, he explained could only be attracted through impacts such as businesses made in their communities in rendering services.

“There are investors, there is market, people who want to engage with them if they keep on going, if they keep on delivering and also when they keep that social impact top because social impact matters, it matters in the difference you make in your community, it matters what your business does in ethical way,” he added.

In all, 22 startups were unveiled as beneficiaries of the second cohort of the programme.

The Startup Lab, a co-creation space and accelerator programme, aims to engage young startups in the development of innovative, open-source, market-driven products and solutions to address complex problems impacting the well-being of children and young people, especially the most vulnerable.

The six-months training programme will be managed by MEST Africa, the programme’s main implementing partner, with support from additional technology hubs and international team of experts from the startup ecosystem across Africa.

Mr. McAsey said the organisation received over 200 applications from startups across the country, out of which 22 promising social impact startups were selected to participate in this year’s programme.

He noted that each of the startups were already marketing impactful products and services that, if brought to scale, could positively influence and accelerate results for children, young people and communities.

“Over the next months, the UNICEF team will be working closely with this group of companies, and with the right support, we believe several of the solutions being worked on by these businesses could eventually have global impact.

“From our perspective, the startups not only represent the best of Ghana’s young entrepreneurial talent, they can also provide inspiration for other impact-focused businesses across the Ghanaian economy,” Mr. McAsey added.

Participants, he said, would also access UNICEF’s wide network of technical experts to help them extend their social impact and enhance their products, some of which focused on the most complex development challenges.

“Each startup will also benefit from both groups and individual mentoring, as well as capacity building sessions to help scale and grow their business to compete internationally.

“They will also benefit from further development opportunities through UNICEF’s global innovation and entrepreneurship support mechanisms, including the UNICEF Venture Fund, and engagement in initiatives such as the Digital Public Goods Alliance,” he said.

Mr. McAsey urged the beneficiaries to take advantage of the programme to build stronger businesses capable of addressing today’s challenges.

Mr. Ashwin Ravichandran, MEST Africa Managing Director, assured beneficiaries of the Institute’s readiness to equip them with the relevant skills and knowledge to ensure their businesses thrived.

Participating startups are; Africa Goodnest; Appcyclers; Asa Nwura; BACE Technologies; BISA; Coliba; DEXT; Ecampus; Geohebeth Lines; LEAP; MASSIRA and MOCHCARE.

The rest are Naa Sika; Premier Waste Services; Snoocode and Talents in Africa; Trimester Save; Trotro Diaries; Wings to Fly; Wiredtutor; Digital Health Access and Scribble Works.

The UNICEF Startup lab was launched in October 2019.

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