Ghanaian entrepreneur Elikem Kuenyehia talks about his rise to the top

All this was done in less than ten years. It demonstrates that with the right vision and the right team in place, the opportunities are indeed endless across the African continent.

You have released a book called ‘Kuenyehia on Entrepreneurship’. Drawing from your knowledge, what is the major challenge facing formal entrepreneurship in Ghana, and how do you think this can be overcome?

My research tells me that there are two main challenges facing formal entrepreneurship in Ghana. The first is human resources – many of the entrepreneurs I spoke to complained bitterly that they could not find the right human resources for their business and when they did, they do not stay. The other is financial capital. Without a developed venture capital or private equity market in Ghana, it can be difficult to source capital for your enterprise, no matter how bright the idea. Banks are completely unhelpful when it comes to supporting growing businesses.

The HR challenge could be overcome if business owners spend a bit more time identifying and recruiting the right calibre of staff for their enterprise and by focusing both on competency and values. I found out that too many enterprises do not pursue a rigorous recruitment process.

Regarding finance, government and development partners can encourage banks to lend to entrepreneurs through match funding. Our government has set up a government funded and backed venture capital trust fund, akin to a kind of fund which invests debt and equity into venture capital companies. This is a good idea but seriously underfunded. So our government would do well to increase the funding of this vehicle.

What has been the best entrepreneurial advice you have ever heard?

“Dare to dream but don’t dream unless you are willing to live your dream.” Too many entrepreneurs spend too much time dreaming. Bunmi Oni who told me the quote above challenged me to turn my dreams into reality by executing against the dream. No point in over perfecting a dream you never execute.

Drawing from your experience, what advice do you have for aspiring, young entrepreneurs on the continent?

I’d encourage aspiring young entrepreneurs to invest in their own personal development. Africa is changing rapidly and will continue to do so. None of us can predict with real certainty what the various markets and opportunities will look in five, ten, fifteen, twenty (etc) years. But we can prepare for these opportunities if we invest in our own personal development.