and the Google Foundation support select organizations whose work addresses the challenges of global poverty in ways that are effective, sustainable and scalable. We invited TechnoServe, a 2006 Google Foundation grant recipient, to tell us more about the winners of its business plan competition and entrepreneurship development program in Ghana. The Google Foundation joins TechnoServe in sending heartfelt congratulations to all of the winners, finalists and participants in Believe Begin Become.

With financial support from the Google Foundation, TechnoServe (an economic development organization that applies business solutions to rural poverty) launched Believe Begin Become in Ghana in March. It's a program that identifies entrepreneurs whose businesses can create jobs and increase incomes. Ghana’s competition marks the beginning of TechnoServe’s multi-country rollout of these business plan competitions across Africa.

More than 300 of Ghana’s most promising entrepreneurs applied to the program, and 60 participated in the rigorous training and business plan development for this year’s competition. With strong support from over 70 local partners and 23 business development service providers, participants receive individual support from technical consultants and access to a business network that included more than 15 financial institutions.

The 20 finalists came from seven of Ghana's 10 regions and represent a diverse cross-section of the Ghanaian population. One-third of the finalists are women, and more than a third are from rural areas. They range in age from 20 to 55, and their business concepts are varied, from a web-based tour company to a high-tech environmentally friendly carwash. Each of the 20 finalists receive between $10,000 and $15,000 of individualized local business services. Each of the top 10 winners received $15,000 in seed capital to start or expand their businesses.

To the delight of Ghanaians, the top winners were announced at today’s awards ceremony in Accra. They include: Nicholas Vordzogbe, Isaac Bohulu, Maxwell Hammond, Paul Tetteh, Daniel Tamatey and Prince Yakubu. There are also three winners who presented the best business plans in three sectors: light manufacturing, services and agriculture. These sector winners, all women, are: Agnes Frimpong (Mixline Ventures – disposable baby diaper packaging and retailing), Joyce Opon (Adekyee Lodging and Conferencing – hospitality business) and Rita Asamoah (Kasdar Company Ltd – dried fruit processing). The top winner of the overall business plan competition went to the impressive Joseph Tackie, who is revolutionizing the meat processing business in Accra by introducing the highest standards of quality and new sales and distribution models. provided support by sending Google employees to Ghana to serve as judges, guest lecturers and supporters of the participating entrepreneurs. Here are three reflections on their experience:
  • "When I originally agreed to volunteer, I wasn't sure what contribution I was going to be able to make, trying to teach finance in a place where having access to electricity is as big a concern as running out of capital. But during my lecture, I could see how introducing some of the lessons we've learned at Google to these budding entrepreneurs in Ghana was really making a difference. It was definitely the best week of work I've ever had." – Albert Ching
  • “It was refreshing to see the impact of TechnoServe’s results-driven approach to development. This approach seems more successful for generating skilled and unskilled jobs, income for the community, and in the long run, sustainable economic growth for developing nations. It can instill a sense of pride and achievement in people that can have tremendous effects - successful entrepreneurs can contribute to their communities and inspire others to achieve more.” – Jackie Bona
  • “The highlight of my trip was the event celebrating the graduation from the core training of the business plan competition: the best 20 business plans that would receive some level of funding. I realized that the aim of supporting sustainable businesses and creating a local ecosystem to spur innovation and entrepreneurship was really happening.” – Marco Marinucci