Local commercial bank, Premium Bank, has donated $30,000 to the Ashesi Enterprise Fund (AEF) to support student-led entrepreneurial initiatives and boost the entrepreneurial landscape at Ashesi.
In 2015, the Business Administration Department set up the AEF as an educational fund to support the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at Ashesi. Its objective is to provide student ventures with proof of concept grants and soft loans, to help them validate their business models, products and services. This structure helps make student ventures develop appropriate go-to-market strategies, as well to take their products and services to market.
“When I started teaching entrepreneurship, I realised students and student groups needed funding to test their concepts and ideas,” said Dr. Sena Agyepong. “Otherwise, they do a lot of desk research and come up with ideas they think can work, without thorough testing - all based on assumptions. As we expanded, producing more teams and ideas, we realised it would be difficult for students to access grants on the open market, so we decided work towards making those grants available, hence the fund.”
Entrepreneurial training is a core component of Ashesi’s mission to educate ethical and entrepreneurial leaders. Through courses like Foundation of Design and Entrepreneurship and the Entrepreneurship capstone seminar and initiatives like the Ashesi Venture Accelerator, students get the opportunity to explore entrepreneurship on multiple levels through their stay at Ashesi.
“Through support like the grant from Premium Bank, the students are able to test their concepts, and come up with validated business concepts that are ready to go to market,” added Dr. Agyepong. “By going through the process, and with the aid of the fund, they are able to build skills and learn lessons, and have the opportunity to fail in a controlled environment.”
Over the years, Premium Bank has spearheaded support for start-ups and small and medium sale enterprises across the country. Through initiatives like the Ghana Start-up Awards, the financial institution has helped shed a larger spotlight on the entrepreneurial landscape in the country.
“For us at Premium Bank, we thought the best way to do something about Ghana’s challenges and gaps in development, was to support the entrepreneurial sector,” said Kwasi Tumi, Managing Director of the Premium Bank. “If we do this properly, we know that over time, the multiplier effect of this gesture will be bigger. While the idea is to make a concrete difference in helping small start-ups and companies, we also believe that if industry and corporate Ghana have the right association with the educational sector, we know that we'll produce the kind of graduates needed to ensure that the economy progresses as expected.”