Joshua Adedeji is the Regional Head of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) West Africa. He was one of the driving forces behind Ghana’s implementation of an EcoMap platform with the goal of creating deeper connections within their community.
Joshua joined the West Africa Chapter of ANDE in September 2016 to further pursue his passion for international development, social entrepreneurship and sustainability. He is currently based out of Lagos, Nigeria.
Why Ghana Needed an EcoMap
As Ghana’s economy began to see growth from its entrepreneurial sector, severe infrastructure issues became evident. According to Joshua, the biggest problem was inaccessible information:
“Everyone was operating in silos, and no one knew who was doing what. Entrepreneurs complained that there were no investors and investors were complaining that there were no entrepreneurs to invest in”.
It became clear that there was no interconnection between the critical pieces of the ecosystem.
The solution seemed obvious; Ghana needed to store its ecosystem’s data and information in a centralized location. The execution, however, proved no easy task.
The first attempt at a solution was a series of comprehensive PDF files containing all of the ecosystem’s data. The PDFs quickly became unmanageable because of how frequently the data of an ecosystem changes.
Organizations and programs were continuously coming into existence or going extinct. Any process requiring manual updates to the information was not adequate for storing such dynamic data.
How EcoMap Built A Dynamic Solution
After the PDFs proved to be ineffective, an ANDE representative reached out to EcoMap Tech in search of a new solution. Luckily, it turned out to be just what they needed.
All EcoMap platforms automatically update and refresh information. This feature allows Joshua and his team to review data in real-time.
Additionally, the EcoMap consolidates previously fragmented resources and makes them easy to find based on individual needs. Entrepreneurial support organizations (ESOs) from around the world use the platform to identify opportunities and gaps in Ghana’s market.
Based on the insights gathered from the EcoMap, the ESOs can spot collaboration opportunities and create new programs to fill the gaps.
How Ghana’s Ecosystem has Thrived Since
“The ecomap is very useful to the ecosystem in Ghana; it allows us to understand the ecosystem and make the information available to the public”, said Joshua.
Public response to the platform has been fantastic. Some of the ecosystem’s key players have noted significant improvements among entrepreneurial culture, connectivity of ecosystem organizations, and the amount of technical assistance.
One notable gap in Ghana’s ecosystem that has improved since launching the EcoMap was the loan facilitation market. Previously, Ghana’s entrepreneurs were subjected to predatory loans, with interest rates as high as 35% and required payments of 3 years upfront.
With the EcoMap, Ghanaian entrepreneurs now have access to more loan options with favorable terms, and interest rates as low as 10%. Some loans even include coworking spaces and free internet access.
Entrepreneurs also have access to a clear snapshot of over 200 resources and support Organizations. They can find investors, accelerators, and other support organizations for each business stage: startup, early, growth, and mature.