Richenda Van Leeuwen (left) Charles Abani (second left) with other participants and organizers of the ANDE Conference
The annual Global Conference hosted by the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) opened in Accra with an emphasis on the role of small businesses in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Executive Director of ANDE, Richenda Van Leeuwen, speaking with thought leaders and organizations from around the world noted that start-ups and small businesses play a vital role in ending poverty and propelling economic growth.
Although United Nations (UN) data on the SDGs shows that progress has not been rapid enough, particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak and other unforeseen global circumstances Ms. Van Leeuwen believes the SGDs is achievable.
She said entrepreneurs, in particular, needed the right boost of access to a sustainable ecosystem, including incubators, accelerators, and investors.
“We recognise the power of small businesses in their local communities across their countries. We cannot meet sustainable development goals without small businesses sector,” Ms. Van Leeuwen reiterated.
She added that ANDE is dedicated to supporting SMEs not only in Ghana but also throughout the continent and the world.
In addition to complimenting the nation on having a healthy entrepreneurial spirit, Ms. Van Leeuwen said that her organisation has a thriving membership of incubators, accelerators, and investors who assist the Ghanaian ecosystem and other West African economies.
“We are just thrilled to be here in Ghana and also bringing people across the region and across the continent to talk about how can we accelerate action towards meeting Sustainable development Goals but also how small business ecosystems can drive that economic and social support that we all need to be able to thrive,” she noted.
UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, addressing participants said the power of attaining the SDGs lies in partnerships.
“Partnership is what it will take to bring together the various capabilities to deliver collective impact on all the Sustainable Development Goals that can succeed and so the private sector is absolutely critical,” he said.
He indicated that over time, more emphasis have been put on relationships with governments indicating that this is however shifting towards relationships with civil society, as organisations are beginning to focus much more on the role and value the private sector delivers.
He noted that there is a huge financing gap, but the UN together with its agencies are trying to work with different actors to set up a fund to create finance in the market space.
The event featured engaging member-led sessions that delve into cutting-edge research, reports, and best practices in support of ANDE’s mission to strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems for small businesses.
By Jamila Akweley Okertchiri