THE University of Professional Studies, Accra, (UPSA) has opened a new business incubator centre to assist young entrepreneurs to establish their own businesses.
Known as the Business Incubator Centre, the project is aimed at building strong small medium enterprises (SMEs) to help accelerate the socio-economic development of the country.
It is spearheaded by the Faculty of Management Studies, with support from Century Incubator, E4impact Foundation and Mobile Business Clinic Africa (MBC).
The Acting Dean of the Faculty of Management Studies of the UPSA, Mrs Fidelis Quansah, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS after the launch on the school’s premises in Accra that the business incubator was open to both students and the public.
The centre, she said, was expected to serve as the nodal point of the university in terms of galvanising critical knowledge around the interfaces of theory and practice for business start-ups to enhance teaching, research and learning activities.
According to her, the project is to bring quality practical business tools closer to our students as young professional entrepreneurs, bringing business acumen to the university community.
She noted that the centre was also to create opportunities for research and capacity development for both students and faculty.
“In line with the vision of the university to blend scholarship with professionalism, the faculty continuously explores opportunities to engage with industry and professionals to facilitate teaching, research and learning in the faculty and the university in general. All undergraduate students take a course in entrepreneurship and during this period, students develop various business plans that are presented in class for discussions and feedback,” she said.
She explained that a number of those plans held good prospects as businesses if they could be accorded the requisite time and resources.
“There are students who may also have been involved in various types of businesses before or during their undergraduate programmes. These are potential sources of business ideas for the centre. The country considers the private sector as the engine of growth and with its inability to offer jobs to the youth, encouraging people to develop their own businesses has been a watch phrase of the state,” she added.
The dean indicated that the university also recognised the lack of adequate and understanding of the dynamics of entrepreneurship nationally and globally.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MBC, Mrs Tenemba Anna Samake, said to become a successful entrepreneurs, an individual needed to get training on four important skills.
The skills, she mentioned, were business development, information technology, access to market and how to woo investors into one’s business (followers).
She observed that starting a business was a difficult task but undergoing training was very essential to help an individual learn by doing.
Gap between industry and academia
The Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof. Charles Barnor, said the consistent innovation within the industrial landscape would always create gaps if universities did not develop new programmes to close the gap.
“There is indeed some truth in the comment that suggested that there is a gap between industry and academia. The reason is that industries are always thinking of new ways of doing things but academia has remained stagnant with the old ways of doing things and it is for this reason that the university is introducing the centre to nurture young entrepreneurs to be innovative,” he said.
Difficult to get good proposals
For her part, the General Manager of the Venture Capital Trust Fund, Ms Hamdiya Ismailia, noted that as an investor it was difficult to find good business proposals ready for support.
“Sometimes we are tempted to believe that ideas are enough to secure investment but I can tell you right here that there is more to it. Investors do not invest in ideas, we invest in business models that work to make enough money to repay the investor with significant returns.”
“I am particularly delighted because today the UPSA as an institution mandated to train professionals has gone a step ahead to set up an incubator which is much needed to actually work with young entrepreneurs to learn by doing, ” she stated. — GB