President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the second season of the Presidential Pitch initiative, an entrepreneurship competition for persons between the ages of 18 and 35 years. Presenting cash awards, ranging from GH¢25,000 to GH¢60,000 to the contestants, the President explained that these awards are grants, and not loans, and represent the continuing demonstration of Government’s commitment to providing seed capital for some of the nation’s enterprising youth to enable them run successful businesses. In his remarks at the event on Tuesday, August 6, President Akufo-Addo explained that the importance of the entrepreneurial mindset cannot be overemphasized. “Entrepreneurship is a vital component of economic growth, and has been embraced globally as one of the most important drivers of development. There is now a firm recognition amongst governments and international organizations that the development of entrepreneurial talent is key to addressing the challenges of unemployment, especially youth unemployment,” he said. That is why that the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) was established to provide an integrated, national support for early-stage start-ups, small business incubators and funding for youth-owned businesses. Whilst applauding the quality of applications this year, as well as the ultimate winners, the President assured that “contestants who have not won any prize can take consolation in the fact that the Ministry will continue to find ways to assist them because of the high quality of their presentations”. All contestants of the Presidential Pitch will receive comprehensive, structured training to help build their business management capabilities, and will be equipped with skills in areas such as finance, marketing, pitching, procurement and risks. This, President Akufo-Addo, explained will enable them become even more competent, and be able to compete in the global arena. “There are also plans to attach the winners of the Presidential Pitch to Ghanaian and international companies to help build their abilities to scale up,” he added. Reiterating his resolve in the capacity of Ghanaians to develop prosperous Ghanaian business enterprises that would help create jobs and wealth for the majority of Ghanaians, the President assured that Government will continue to promote a conductive and business-friendly environment for the private sector to survive and thrive, and make jobs available for the teeming masses of Ghanaian youth. With the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA), which has made the continent a single market, duty-free, quota-free trading block, with a total population of 1.2 billion people, and a combined GDP of some $3 trillion, President Akufo-Addo urged young entrepreneurs to seize the opportunity, and take advantage of this huge market to engender jobs and wealth. “Government will continue to help fashion a supportive environment to enhance entrepreneurship and enterprise development. My confidence in the sheer energy and can-do spirit of the Ghanaian makes me believe that, in you, the contestants I have met today, the future of the Ghanaian private sector is extremely promising,” he added.