ACCRA, GHANA — Early-stage startups, veteran entrepreneurs and investors looking for new opportunities all came together for a day of workshops, networking, pitch battles and a chance to take on the challenges facing Ghana’s local startup ecosystem at the country’s first ever National Startup Festival.

Participants at National Startup Festival challenge one another on critical issues facing entrepreneurs.

Organized by Stillwater Equity Partners and +SocialGood Ghana, the festival challenged participants to explore the most critical issues to building a successful business in Ghana, where to find funding, how to use technology to propel their business, developing reliable partnerships and most importantly – ‘getting it right‘ when it comes to working with government institutions.

Perpetua Yankson is a lawyer turned recent entrepreneur. She said she’d been serving homemade organic fruit juices in her community for ten years before deciding to make a business of it, but she said, burdensome government regulations and a lack of accessible information has made it challenging.

” It appears government agencies don’t really understand that a startup doesn’t have much. We don’t have much money, much experience, and sometimes not enough knowledge. Because I am a lawyer, from the onset I wanted to get things right and I had that little bit of education to help me but I still faced many challenges. So it must be even more difficult for people who are not lawyers and don’t have the privilege to be educated. They don’t know the difference between sole proprietorship and limited liability companies. They are given a long list of requirements from the Food and Drugs Authority with very little guidance. We are not looking to the government for money. Rather, we want them to see that there is a gap that needs to be filled.” – Perpetua Yankson

Yankson said she believes the solution is for government institutions to participate in events like this year’s festival and create more platforms for engagement, training and assistance for early-stage startups, like Ghana’s National Board of Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), which she said, she has recently joined.

Tarsicius Edem of Campuz Mart at this year's National Startup Festival

Tarsicius Edem of Campuz Mart at this year’s National Startup Festival

Tarsicius Edem is part of Campuz Mart (@campuzmart), a 10-month-old online startup that allows students from tertiary schools to trade books and dormitory items with one another. He said more government support for startups would mean a more sustainable ecosystem.

“Like any other startup, it hasn’t been easy to find funding but there is money out there and we have to position ourselves to get it. The same goes for the government’s support. I think by being here today and being involved in an ongoing conversation, we have put ourselves in that position for their support. Now, we hope they can meet us in the middle so that we can learn from them and they can learn from us. That’s the only way we will rise as entrepreneurs.” – Tarsicius Edem

To meet more of this year’s participants from Ghana’s National Startup Festival and learn more about the event from its coordinators, watch our video on Youtube.