What Is A Business Plan Competition?

Business plan competitions have been held by various organizations worldwide with great success. TechnoServe has designed and managed nearly 60 business plan competitions in Latin American countries, South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Swaziland. The results of past TechnoServe competitions have been overwhelming and this is expected to continue in subsequent years. ENGINE’s primary objectives are to stimulate growth-oriented entrepreneurial activity and to train entrepreneurs on the process of developing successful businesses. The programme works as a catalyst to increasing employment opportunities by fostering investment and growth in high potential business ideas. Ghana needs jobs to stimulate economic growth. Jobs are created by new enterprises, which are founded and launched by entrepreneurs who have good ideas, drive, and are willing to work hard. If you are reading this material it is likely that you already have a business or a business idea you would like to transform into a successful expansion or start-up, and you are interested in benefiting from available resources. This is why we give you some advice: make the most of this opportunity to take your business concept to the next level!



What Is A Business Plan And Why Is It Necessary?

A business plan is a strategic guide for you and your management team that helps you run your business effectively and helps you grow your business. It is also an important sales document that you can use to raise loan and investment capital for your business. A business plan is a written summary of what a business intends to achieve and how it intends to achieve it. It can serve as a risk assessment tool, an operational guide, and a measure of progress and success. Some of the questions business plans address include:

• Is the idea feasible?

• Who will be the product’s clients and how big is the target market?

• Does the management team understand the market in which it operates?

• What additional abilities and expertise are needed to be successful?

• Does the concept have high growth potential?

• Is the return on investment enough to attract investors?

Business plans are necessary because they:

• Force entrepreneurs to plan ahead and think through potential obstacles and risks the business might face

• Help entrepreneurs identify their target markets, price strategies, competitive environments, and competitive advantages

• Allow entrepreneurs to clearly present their business concepts and management capabilities to potential investors

• Give investors and business leaders a clear sense of the level of investment needed and the likelihood of returns and at what level

• Provide the business leader an efficient how-to guide for turning the idea into a real business


Potential readers of the business plan include:

• The founding team

• The board of directors

• Potential investors or financiers

• Potential employees

• Partners and consultants

• Suppliers

• Distributors


What Do I Need To Invest To Participate?

Applying to the competition requires an investment of your time as well as commitment. You will also be expected to fund your own accommodations and food throughout the competition and any transportation beyond the amount designated for participants travelling from your region. If you graduate from ENGINE, you will also be asked to reproduce your business plan for the judging process. Most importantly you will have to invest your time and energy in order to succeed as an ENGINE participant and as an entrepreneur.



What Are the Specific Resources the Programme Offers?

The resources available during the core of the programme include:


• Business management course work with practical and academic experts

• Training workshops on business plan writing and development 

• Training workshops on presentation development and delivery

• A business plan manual and instruction booklet

• An industry specific conference

• A one-on-one consultant

• Networking events with members of Ghana’s financial sector and leaders of Ghana’s private sector

• ENGINE alumni network

• The ENGINE website



What Does the Consultant Do?


Consultants can be top executives in Ghanaian businesses, professional business development consultants, or entrepreneurs who have turned good ideas into successful, high-growth businesses. These professionals are assigned to participants to assist them and provide insight as they develop their business plans. Consultants do not write business plans for participants, nor do they do any of the necessary work required of participants.  


Consultants have experience in one or more of the following areas:

• Launching and running a business

• Managing a particular business function (i.e. marketing, finance, operations)

• Consulting for businesses as they develop

• In a specific industry (i.e. tourism, agro industry)


Consultants can serve many roles for participants. Some of them include:

• Acting as a business partner in team discussions

• Offering constructive criticism and advice

• Serving as an intermediary with contacts who can offer market or industry knowledge

• Acting as a potential financing entity to assess presentation of the business concept

• All consultants are required to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing them from transmitting or benefiting from any of the participant’s ideas or work