After meeting with Ghanaian Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu and Minister of Finance Seth Terkper, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker stopped by the Meltwater Entrepreneur School of Technology (MEST) to tour its facilities, interact with several of the resident start-ups, and gain more insight into the Ghanaian entrepreneurial culture.
Established in 2009 and based in Ghana's capital city of Accra, MEST and its Incubator program provide training, investment and mentoring for aspiring technology entrepreneurs. Its goal is to create globally successful companies that spur prosperity and jobs locally in Africa. MEST offers aspiring African entrepreneurs a fully-sponsored, two year intensive program to learn the skills necessary to build successful tech businesses, including computer programming, software development, product management, finance, marketing, sales and leadership best practices.
The Department of Commerce supports entrepreneurship through its "Open for Business Agenda," a set of strategic priorities focused on data, innovation, and trade and investment. As the primary voice of business in the Administration, the Department produces policies and initiatives that help in the establishment and success of new start-ups as well as the growth and competitiveness of existing businesses.
In April, President Obama and Secretary Pritzker announced the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) initiative. PAGE - which is chaired by Secretary Pritzker - is comprised of 11 well-known, successful American business leaders who have committed to sharing their time, energy, ideas, and experience to help develop the next generation of entrepreneurs both at home and abroad.
Secretary Pritzker toured the MEST incubator and led an innovation roundtable discussion with inaugural PAGE ambassador Nina Vaca, CEO of Pinnacle Technical Resources. Secretary Pritkzer and Vaca met with aspiring entrepreneurs and discussed the importance of global entrepreneurship as well as the entrepreneurial culture in Ghana. Secretary Pritzker and Vaca told the group they can learn from the successes and challenges that they face and use those experiences to help them build their businesses.
The joint visit by Secretary Pritzker and Vaca marked the first international PAGE engagement. As part of the PAGE initiative, ambassadors like Nina Vaca have agreed to participate in an ongoing dialogue with policy makers globally, acting as goodwill ambassadors in discussions about how to create an environment where creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship can grow and thrive.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker is leading 20 American companies on an Energy Business Development trade mission to Ghana and Nigeria. The goal of the mission is to promote U.S. exports and expand U.S. companies' presence in Africa by helping American firms launch or increase their business in the energy sector. The firms joining the mission have the expertise to help African countries develop and manage energy resources and systems, as well as build out power generation, transmission, and distribution.
Africa is home to seven of the ten fastest growing economies in the world, and helping U.S. business expand their presence in these African markets is a top priority for the Department of Commerce and the Administration.