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KELECHI OFOEGBU, H’19

Creating Economic Opportunities and Upward Mobility for Entrepreneurs in Ghana
Kelechi Ofoegbu H’19, a graduate of Sikkim Manipal University based in Accra, spent two years as an ambassador for Seedstars, followed by a two-year stint as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shaper Community, hubs in cities around the world who work together to deliver bottom-up social change projects in their communities. Ofoegbu co-founded Impact Hub Accra (IHA) in 2014, the first Global Shapers Hub in Ghana to harness the entrepreneurial energy in cities across Ghana and to support a generation of entrepreneurs who are creating new opportunities and tackling some of the biggest social challenges of our times.

“Ofoegbu was confident that if he could provide a safe space for entrepreneurs to thrive, he could significantly impact the ability of SMEs in Ghana to achieve high growth.”

Creating a dynamic space for entrepreneurs to succeed

THE CHALLENGE. Ghana is located along the Gulf of Guinea and Atlantic Ocean, in the sub-region of West Africa with a population of approximately 30 million. Job creation remains the single biggest challenge facing policymakers in Ghana and the rest of Africa. Despite some economic growth over the past two decades, youth unemployment and underemployment is still very high, coupled with deep poverty and poor infrastructure. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the Ghanaian economy contributing nearly 70% to Ghana’s total GDP. Yet, multiple layers of market inefficiencies, such as high rental costs, poor internet connectivity, lack of program development, etc. prevent SMEs from achieving high growth in Ghana. Where others saw limitations, Ofoegbu saw an opportunity to provide a support infrastructure for existing SMEs and new players to this market and to change the lives of young entrepreneurs in Ghana.

THE PROCESS. In 2012, Ofoegbu was responsible for running a Certificate in Entrepreneurship Program at the now defunct Open University of West Africa (OUWA). Following the success of the program, several leaders within OUWA and other organizations decided to take the program to its next possible iteration. Hub Accra was the result, later evolving to become Impact Hub Accra (IHA). Today, IHA is a safe space for entrepreneurs to thrive. Their offering includes a high-speed Google fiber internet infrastructure and curated experiences and programe tailored to the needs of entrepreneurs. A key goal of having companies in the enclave is to rapidly accelerate their growth and boost their job creation capacity. Their focus is on companies with high employment capacity in five fast-growing sectors – agribusiness, education, e-healthcare, sustainable energy and financial inclusion. IHA is a catalyst to foster social innovation – a global community, consultancy and a creative space. IHA works at the intersection of innovation and society to collaboratively create impact with an entrepreneurial mindset. 

IHA is an affordable and accessible solution, which is a key foundation of any market-creating innovation. It clusters companies in a fine blend of well curated spaces and programs, leveraging on the dynamics of a shared economy to reduce the cost of operation for each small business. The resulting increased efficiencies lead to major productivity gains. IHA is focused on stimulating job creation and inclusive growth by creating a resilient and dynamic cluster for small businesses. IHA has grown to become Accra’s premier entrepreneurial hotspot, offering accelerator programs for entrepreneurs, pitch and leadership workshops, networking events, opportunities to design and prototype, and more. In the long term, IHA wants to create a de-risked pool of investment-ready, high growth companies for local and foreign investors. 

IHA is in the process of creating the Accra Innovation Enclave by making major investments and transforming distressed real estate assets into activated living and office spaces for high-impact entrepreneurs. The next phase of growth is to catalyze exponential job creation in Ghana by building a resilient business innovation ecosystem through clustering of core infrastructure to cut costs for high-impact small businesses. A proposed 10,000sqm of solar-powered mixed-use spaces will serve a mix of local businesses, a global community of digital nomads/freelancers and provide a soft landing for foreign venture-backed companies making an entry into Ghana. As part of the global Impact Hub Network, with a presence in 100+ locations across the world and 16 000+ members, IHA can tap into the network’s extensive global reach to support companies looking to scale into different markets, attract investors, access a global talent pool and use its global media reach to spotlight the work of companies in the enclave. 

THE RESULT. IHA has evolved to become Ghana’s premier entrepreneurial hotspot, from starting off with less than 30 students in a relatively unknown, one-roomed incubator into a safe space for 200+ innovators, a launchpad for 30+ ventures, 15,000+ visitors and a strong organizational track record of delivering programs for local and international organizations. 1sqkm of Accra (Osu Ako Adjei) is known as Ghana’s innovation district and the nerve center for Accra’s entrepreneurs and bold thinkers. 

• 80.6% of IHA companies consider it key to their success

• 70% IHA ventures have shown double digit growth year on year

• 20 000+ Community/audience across social media

• 165+ Unique companies were founded out of IHA with an average of 120 new jobs created by IHA companies annually

• 60% of the buildings under management are powered by solar with increasing adoption of best practices to reduce the collective carbon footprint of their community

• 33% of ventures at IHA have received external investment

• $1M+ Lifetime revenue

The IHA team believes that a cluster of high growth, early-stage companies and growth stage SMEs in a collaborative business environment, with a conservative minimum turnover per company of about $500k, has a better chance of creating thousands of decently paid new jobs for mostly college-educated young people in the city of Accra and beyond, as the models gets fine-tuned. Ofoegbu and his team are convinced there is potential to scale their offerings into multiple African markets with a mix of private and public financing to be used as a job creation and economic regeneration tool. 

LEARN MORE ABOUT IMPACT HUB ACCRA

At Impact Hub Accra, we believe that the world’s greatest challenges will never be solved by one person or organization alone. We need to work together. That’s why we set out to create a thriving innovation ecosystem where people collaborate across organizations, cultures and generations to solve the grand challenges of our time.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting Impact Hub Accra

Harnessing the entrepreneurial energy in Ghana

ABOUT KELECHI OFOEGBU

Creating a thriving ecosystem for entrepreneurs in Ghana

Ofoegbu was born in Nigeria and now lives in Accra, Ghana. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from the Sikkim Manipal University, Accra and is fluent in Igbo, Ga, Twi and English.

He spent two years as the Associate Director of the Open University of West Africa (OUWA) before founding Impact Hub Accra where he is the Chief Operations Officer. In this role he:

• Co-designed/led the execution of multiple tailored programs for Facebook, Ashoka, British Council, Siemens Foundation, BBG, USAID, Merck, Mozilla, Kosmos Innovation Center, among others.

• Co-led the management of over $700,000 in program grants and revenue.

• Directed company operations, co-supervised fundraising and strategic partnerships as part of the executive management team.

• Spearheaded an integrated approach to community growth and expansion from the first day of the company to the present.

His journey to IHA has also seen him fulfil several volunteer roles. The first was as a mentor/jury for Seedstars Accra. Seedstars World promotes, connects and invests up to $1.5m in emerging market startups through its exclusive startup competitions in 60 countries. He is also a volunteer for Global Shaper, Accra Hub, which comprises promising young leaders with a global reach, identified by the World Economic Forum for the purpose of initiating projects and influencing their peers positively towards the development of their country, region and the world.

I AM A HARAMBEAN

Kelechi Ofoegbu views Harambe as an opportunity to meet like-minded individuals.

“I have seen the network effect of clusters (physical & virtual) on personal and organizational growth, through shared experiences, contacts, resources and other extraordinary acts of camaraderie. The Alliance clusters progress-minded Africans into a collective that is defining and building the future of Africa’s economic emancipation and inclusive growth through entrepreneurship.”