March 29 - Students, faculty and staff who make up Ashesi’s budding entrepreneurial ecosystem came together to mark the launch of the Ashesi Venture Accelerator (AVA). In attendance as well were private business owners and entrepreneurs from various industries in Accra.

The AVA is a student-led accelerator set up to support student-run businesses by providing them with the resources and funding that they will require in their early stages, in order to grow into fully-fledged companies. Ventures accepted into the incubator can be at any level of maturity, from simple ideas to existing businesses.

 “College is one of the best places to start a business because of the abundance of resources that we have at our disposal,” said Desmond Darlington ‘16, CEO of AVA. “So there needs to be an environment to support student startups and ventures, and even more so, an organization to stimulate entrepreneurship on campus and that’s what the AVA is set out for.”

The accelerator currently supports twelve ventures; providing assistance in grant proposals, crafting of pitches, dedicated coaching from students and faculty, business planning and development, mentorship from business leaders and a number of other essential activities to help them not only build their ideas or products into businesses, but also scale to meet market demands.

“In Ghana, and Africa at large, we are moving from a point of only complaining about our problems to actually being proactive about solving them, especially with an entrepreneurial mindset,” said Benedicta Emefa Gokah '16 Lead Coach at the accelerator. “So with AVA, we are trying to create an enabling environment so that people who have ideas will know what steps to take towards turning them into businesses.”

The launch provided an opportunity for a number of ventures in the accelerator to pitch their products and ideas to the guests. It also served as a platform for networking and exchange of ideas. “The nurturing process for the entrepreneurial mindset needs to go beyond the boundaries of even the most experiential classroom to a real startup situation where there are real rewards and consequences to everyday decisions,” said Dr. Gordon Adomdza of the Business Administration Department, who also serves as faculty advisor for the accelerator. “This is why we are excited about the Ashesi Venture Accelerator because it becomes a community of entrepreneurial types from all over Ashesi who are nurturing their mindset and honing their skill-set for success in the market.”

Present at the launch also was Ashesi's President, Dr. Patrick Awuah, who spoke on the importance of strengthening businesses with the right kind of people. "Scaling a business is important but you need a strong value proposition and a great team," he said. "Build ideas to impact the ecosystem, to impact the world, build ideas to scale and do that by developing a really strong value proposition and building the best team you can put together."

Ashesi's Dean of Engineering also spoke on the need for building on simple ideas. " “Look around you for entrepreneurial ideas," he said. "There are all around you. If you think about it, Twitter could have started in Ghana because it really could be the digital form of the gong gong.”

“Our goal is to see Ashesi spearhead the next generation of Africa’s biggest entrepreneurs,” said Desmond Darlington ’16. “In the next 6-8 years, we want see billion dollar companies come from Ashesi and this is possible because we are digging our own valley here."