The 2018 long break marks the third consecutive year during which Ashesi students have been selected to participate in the New Business Challenge (NBC); a five-week competition held by the Dutch embassy in Ghana, during which 40 students in total from the Netherlands and Ghana, collaborate on providing business solutions for Dutch- Ghanaian companies.
This year, five Ashesi students and recent alumni, Janet Fuah’ 19, Kwabena Adu- Darkwa’ 18, Charles Dzokoto’ 19, Araba Torson’ 18 and Joseph Yaw Akyin’ 18 were chosen as part of the 20 Ghanaian finalists. For the all- expenses paid program, selected students went on field trips to the Netherlands and Ghana, and had access to workshops, professional training and coaching.
“It was a great way to spend my vacation after graduating from Ashesi, as I was able to combine consulting for a Dutch-Ghanaian company with exploring a European country,” said Kwabena Adu-Darkwa’ 18. “I got to work with really brilliant people on the Jonilaiko Ecotours business case, and broadened my network both internationally and locally. It was also incredible to discover how a small country like the Netherlands had been able to sustain their economy mainly on agriculture.”
The NBC program has a very competitive selection process, accepting 7% of the applicants. Starting with a kick-off day held simultaneously in both Ghana and the Netherlands, 60 shortlisted applicants from each country were invited to present an elevator pitch. At the end of the events, 40 finalists were selected to work with companies which included Delphy, Friss, Jonilaiko, Van den Bosch and MDF West Africa, to develop sustainable solutions for existing business challenges.
“Working with Delphy at the NBC presented me with the opportunity to explore agricultural financing,” Joseph Yaw Akyin’18 shared. “I also got to improve my skills in the areas of research, communication and working in diverse environments.”
“My Dutch teammates were really time conscious, and this kept me on my toes as well,” said Charles Dzokoto’ 18. “I had already gained some skill working for a student start-up, but being part of the NBC has added to my goal of becoming a business consultant.”
At the end of July, all the teams presented their final solutions at a soirée held at the residence of the Dutch Ambassador. Ashesi faculty and staff, Rose Dodd ‘09 and Nana Ama Boamponsem ‘15 respectively, served as judges and coached two of the student teams.
For Janet Fuah’19, a member of the overall winning team for the challenge, a past internship at Ashesi had played a key role in how she was able to contribute in her NBC team.
“A month before the NBC, I interned with Moringa Connect, one of the companies supported by the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC) at Ashesi,” she explained. “Through the internship, I was able to connect with other companies that worked within the climate change mitigation space. So, in developing a solution to reduce the carbon print of Jonilaiko Ecotours, I had a lot of suggestions. Moreover, due to the network I had built from working with the GCIC, I was able to connect my team to a company that makes diesel out of plastics and got a contract for Jonilaiko. All this helped strengthen our final solution and made it more financially feasible and implementable.”