Four Young Ghanaians Tell Us Why They Failed At Entrepreneurship

High angle shot of a young male looking stressed while working on his computer in the office (GettyImages)

For every economy to grow, it needs its private sector to flourish. This means they can pay high taxes to the government which will have enough money to undertake developmental work.

If the private sector is thriving then citizens would also be in a better economic situation with jobs being available.

The private sector, however, only exists when people start establishing private businesses, hence the need for entrepreneurship.

Days ago, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta caught some heat on social media when he said at a UPSA graduation that the graduates should venture into entrepreneurship because the government’s payroll is full. In other words, the government cannot employ them so they are really on their own.

While it is a fact that the government’s payroll is rather large, just urging young people to venture into entrepreneurship does not absolve the government of any responsibility to those young graduates.

Finding a job in the private sector these days is still a challenge as businesses are also struggling to expand to necessitate the need to employ more hands.

Therefore, if private-sector jobs are also in short supply then starting your own should be your next obvious move right?

Well, sometimes, that is also not guaranteed even if you do manage to start your own business.

According to Embroker, a business advisory and research firm, “about 90% of startups fail. 10% of startups fail within the first year. Across all industries, startup failure rates seem to be close to the same. Failure is most common for startups during years two through five, with 70% falling into this category.”

This means that if 100 businesses are started today, 90 of them would fail to grow and they would be shut down.

While there are generic reasons why startups fail such as access to capital and other factors of production, there are also certain very specific reasons why certain startups fail to keep the light on and fold.

To help provide lessons for would-be entrepreneurs, spoke with four people who attempted entrepreneurship in their youth and it didn’t end well for them.


I started my online business in my second year at the university. Before I got to the university, I was already shopping for my friends or they would insist that I accompany them to shop as I knew where to find good things and at great prices. In the University, I stopped for a while and later decided to take it online as I was on campus and some of my friends were in other regions. Through word of mouth, they recommended me to their friends so I built a good client base. However, the challenges with delivery put me out of business. Delivering from one region to the other was a huge challenge. Sometimes, parcels would go missing or they will not get to the client on time. It was a lot of that and it messed up with my studies, that was the end of the attempt at entrepreneurship. It’s all these external challenges that you cannot control that gets to you.

Nana Yaw

I was sold on the idea of being an entrepreneur in high school. As a business student, you’d learn all about running a business and the accounting behind it. After uni, I started a small game centre in my neighbourhood. The idea was that it would grow to become a community centre of sorts that would provide extraarticular programmes at a fee. Teach kids the things they wouldn’t get in a formal education system such as coding, photography, painting, writing, ballet, and some of these lucrative Olympic sports such as fencing and others. That was the bigger plan but it all started with the game centre. Five months after it started running, I started buying more consoles and TV sets as the children loved it. Now that I had their attention, I was looking for a bigger space to start introducing the other programmes when the parents started complaining. I heard a few of the complaints before, but it really got intensified. They hated the idea of it when indeed I was helping the kids. Before then, they would be loitering about after school. Mothers will be combing the entire neighbourhood to look for their kids. However, with the game centre, all they had to do was come there and they would find their child. However, to them, I was taking money from their children so they didn’t like the idea. It got to a time, children who came to the centre were punished at home so I decided to shut it down. I was trying to help the kids, so I saw no reason for continuing something that only got them in trouble.


Years ago when my cousin started his national service in Takoradi, he and I decided to venture into farming pineapple. Before that we had been researching other business ideas, however, pineapple farming was the low hanging fruit for us so we chose to start being an entrepreneur with that. Back in our grandmother’s village, they are known for cultivating pineapple for export and the local market, we even had an uncle who was farming this cash crop. We asked for his guidance and we leased 4 acres of land from our family. It was this same uncle who was responsible for demarcating the land for us. He led us in preparing the land for planting, we bought suckers from his friend and his own staff planted it for us. We paid them though. We covered all the expenses including fertilizer and paying the staff who applied it and cleared the farm off weed regularly. All was going well until they started shooting fruits. We realised half of the farm had sizeable fruits and the other half had very small tiny fruits. It turned out the land our uncle gave us, half of it had been used to cultivate pineapple before and it was not allowed to fallow before we also planted on it. As a result, the soil didn’t have enough fertility to support our pineapple. The low yield meant we failed to even break even. As the main person financing most of the farming project, my cousin was discouraged by our uncle’s sabotage. That was the end of it.


I started raising birds for eggs and for meat to be sold during the festive season. Fresh after National Service, I wanted my own thing and for years various governments had been talking about the need for young people to go into agriculture. Thankfully, mum and dad had a parcel of land very near to where we lived; growing up we were told they bought it for us from a friend who needed cash. So I cleared the land built pen, dad got a veterinary friend of his to help me get it in order and purchased the chicks. He taught me their feeding regime and everything. I was so confident that I never thought twice about spending my savings on this. After some weeks and a few birds dying, but it is to be expected, they started laying eggs. I thought I have done it. I started drawing up plans of expansion then the flu happened. A few birds died, I did everything I could then later it was advised that all of them must be killed. It crushed me. I had no money left to buy new birds and feed and all the rest that come with it. It was the end for me because I was drained after the entire experience.


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