Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana constitute an essential part of the economy. Quite significantly, about 92% of businesses in the country operate within the SME sector. Put together, the sector employs more than 80% of the workforce and contributes about 70% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Consequently, it can be argued that the sector is indispensable within the context of the country’s overarching economic development strategy.
However, in spite of their importance the SME companies in Ghana operate within an ecosystem riddled with a myriad of challenges. Apart from limited access to credit/finance and inadequate entrepreneurial/managerial skills, access to technology-driven business solutions is a major hindrance to growth of the sector. The vast majority of operators within the sector still render services via manual-based systems. This is mainly due to inhibitive cost factors for the acquisition of tech-based solutions.
Cognizant of the above bottlenecks, the AFOS Foundation in 2021 – with funding from the German government – embarked on a project to train a cohort of fresh talents to provide cutting-edge business solutions for SMEs at a fraction of market rates. Dubbed ‘DigiCap’, the project was sited at the University of Cape Coast (UCC) with an initial intake of 16 undergraduates. Designed as an extra-curricular activity, the students were groomed through a six-month training regimen that comprised courses in data science, business intelligence and soft skills. In addition to the onsite training, the students also undertook various real-life projects that included designing business solutions for low-budget SMEs.
Upon satisfactory completion of the training programme, the beneficiaries are christened ‘Junior Consultants’ (JCs) with special expertise in the design and deployment of affordable tech-based solutions in data analysis, spreadsheet development, market research and simple web development.
Presently, the JCs are in that phase of their evolution when they are required to provide, by the demands of their training, consultancy services gratis through internships. SMEs across the country are therefore invited to take advantage of this special offer. Below is the list of services JCs are prepared to offer businesses that are interested in signing them on for internships:
- Skilled Talent
- Free consultancy
- Business process analysis
- Tailor-made solutions
- Increased productivity
JCs are hand-picked alumni from the DigiCAP ICT skills training programme, and are passionate learners with in-demand ICT and personal skills such as effective client communication required to solve business problems. They are trained to approach problem-solving creatively, and can develop solutions that meet client requirements through an iterative process and collaborative approach.
What do companies gain from engaging JCs?
Economical – Get consultancy at no cost; you only pay for costs associated with the solution provided (e.g., licencing, in the event a paid tool is used in developing the solution).
Automation – JCs can automate your repetitive business processes; this allows you to focus on delivering your core business solutions. Automation can help businesses focus on delivering their core business, and to meet their needs more efficiently; improving productivity, reliability, availability and growth. Automation can also help businesses save time, money and resources, as well as improve planning and customer contact. Incorporating automation in your business can help increase agility, lower costs, improve productivity, reduce delays, minimize errors, and improve customer satisfaction.
Customization – Get custom-made solutions to fit your unique business problems; no one-size-fits-all! Tailoring products, services and experiences to meet specific business needs. This can help businesses improve customer satisfaction and loyalty by providing personalized experiences that meet their unique needs and preferences. Customization can also help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors by offering unique products and services that are tailored to the needs of individual customers – building brand loyalty and increasing customer retention.
Talent Pool – Work with a passionate, skill-driven young professional team with a fresh outlook on business problems. The DigiCAP JC programme provides a professional platform for emerging talents. These potential candidates can help organizations grow and achieve their long-term goals. Built and maintained by the DigiCAP programme – formulated as a database, this talent pool helps organizations build ‘reservoirs of talent’ to always have on hand. Developing such talent pools is a great way to ensure that organizations have access to the best possible candidates when needed.
DigiCAP.gh is an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) project by the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through sequa GmbH and is implemented by AFOS – the German Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation.
The cardinal objective of DigiCAP is to enable its main partner, the University of Cape Coast, and other educational and business institutions to sustainably administer practice-oriented ICT qualification programmes and accompanying strategies to spur employment and entrepreneurship.
Thus, this year’s Tech Entrepreneurs Forum, planned for June, will unveil the Junior Consultants programme and its roadmap on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 at the Holiday Inn Hotel. The event, by invitation, will uncover valuable insights with expertise in tools like Excel and Python, and showcase some of their solutions.
Original Source: B&FT