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Business News of Thursday, 10 November 2016

Source: B&FT

Joblessness drives graduates into entrepreneurship

Tight job market in the country has reportedly sparked entrepreneurial revolution among young graduates many of whom have turned to self employment to drive innovation and help to solve one of the country’s major social challenges: unemployment.

According to a report by the Institute of Statistical Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, graduate unemployment will hit 271,000 this year as the country churns out over 70,000 graduates annually.

The situation, B&FT has gathered, has forced many graduates to abandon the search for jobs and create their own.

"When the jobs I applied for were not coming, I decided not to wait anymore. So, in 2016, I began the process of producing Asali Hausa Koko mix, and thanks to God, business is picking up. I am just waiting for my FDA certification to get my products in shops," recalled Suleman Zakiya, a graduate of the University of Ghana and now the CEO of Zacky Foods Processing, manufacturers of Asali Hausa Koko mix- a local breakfast in a powdered form.

Ms. Zakiya joined a number of budding entrepreneurs to explain to the B&FT their motivation for embarking of an entrepreneurial journey after several failed attempts to secure jobs.

According to the entrepreneurs, with increasing limited employment opportunities, entrepreneurship is the viable option for the country to tackle joblessness.

"When I was starting, people discouraged me from pursing such career because I am a graduate. But surprisingly, this work has been very rewarding and has even exceeded my expectations. Through this, I am able to support myself and my family. I am very happy that I didn’t sit down to wait for government to provide me with a job," Kwame Owusu Basoah, another graduate entrepreneur from the University of Ghana, who is now into rabbit farming told the B&FT.

Mr. Basoah, who missed out on plans to become a Career Diplomat after completing school a couple of years ago talked fondly about the business he has started now.

Rufina Nindow, also a graduate from the University of Ghana, decided to enter into poultry farming after her countless efforts in search for a job failed.

"After I tried several times to get a job and couldn’t get one, I thought about what I would do rather than wait for the government to employ me. The option of going into poultry farming came into my mind. So, I took the step and it has begun yielding benefits for me," she said.

However, starting a business is tough at any age and for these entrepreneurs, regulatory and operational challenges are limiting their progress.

In the case of Suleman Zakiya, one thing that she believes is slowing her business is the regulatory processes. For a start up that is into food processing, she requires a Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) certificate to be able to get her products in shops across the country. But she has still not been certified after many months of applying.

Also in the case of Kwame OwusuBasoah, one thing that has been a challenge ever since he entered into the rabbit business is the non-availability of information on the local rabbit industry.He believes the situation has made it difficult for rabbit farmers to get things right for the start and has forced them to employ ‘try and error’ techniques in their business.

For Rufina Nindow, one thing she considers a challenge in her journey is deficiency in entrepreneurial knowledge. She argues government must have a programme that will offer training for youths who venture into entrepreneurship so that they can be equipped with the needed knowledge in running an enterprise successfully.

The common challenge to these entrepreneurs is the high cost of doing business and difficulty in accessing capital finance, which they said have made it difficult for them to expand their businesses.

They therefore called on the government to institute the necessary measures that will create an enabling environment for budding entrepreneurs in order to motivate many graduates to take up entrepreneurship to help reduce the unemployment rate in the country.