He took home the prize money of $100,000 (about GH¢532,000) to support a shea processing business he co-owns with his mother.Nine other finalists received GH¢25,000 each to support their businesses.
Mr Alhassan, an alumnus of the University for Development Studies (UDS), said he nearly gave up in life when he could not secure a job after completing his university education.
It took the effort of his mother to persuade and encourage him to join her in the shea processing business.
Gradually, with their combined effort, Mr Alhassan said, the shea business began to gain roots, until he heard about the McDan Entrepreneurship Challenge and decided to take part.
He joined nine other finalists to pitch their business ideas to a panel of judges, which included the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Mr Yofi Grant, and the Chairman of the McDan Foundation, Mr Daniel McKorley.
After rounds of vetting and grilling by the judges, Mr Alhassan was declared the ultimate winner.
His selling point was that although he was engaged in the manual processing of shea, he would use the prize money to invest in equipment, employ more people, package properly and target the export market.
He expressed appreciation to his benefactor and all those who supported his efforts, especially his parents, and promised to put the money to good use for his business to flourish.
The McDan Entrepreneurship Challenge, which seeks to promote the spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth through the development of ideas, went on for 13 weeks, with 7,000 entries from start-up groups and individual entrepreneurs since 2018.
Prior to the selection of the finalists, the number of participants was pruned down from 7,000 to 600 after a series of grilling and vetting. Sixty participants later qualified for the semi-final round.
The 60 were taken through mentoring and coaching programmes before a final 10 were selected.
Among the finalists were Alkoh Shea, the shea butter processing and production firm operated by Mr Alhassan and his mother; Better PM Services, which is into the purchasing and marketing of cereals and legumes; Greenfuel Innovation Africa, an eco-friendly company that uses agricultural waste products to produce clean energy; Tiger House, processors of tiger nuts into milk, biscuit and laundry starch, and Agrizone, which specialises in producing, packaging and marketing fresh organic vegetables.
The competition was organised by the McDan Foundation, with support from the Ministry of Business Development, on the theme: “Alternative employment through entrepreneurship”.
It attracted students from second-cycle and tertiary institutions, as well as young business people.
Mr McKorley explained that entrepreneurship was not only a venture but a desire and passion which, with determination, resilience and hard work, would lead to success.
Tracing his humble beginnings as a young man growing up in La, an Accra suburb, he said: “I started from the streets of La as a young man selling kerosene. I was also once a driver’s mate, pupil teacher and construction labourer, but today God has given me something special and this is what I am sharing with the next generation. If I don’t do it, posterity will judge me.”
The ultimate goal of the challenge, he explained, was to create a legacy for sustainable businesses through empowerment and entrepreneurship.
“The focus of the challenge is to invest and build the capacities of entrepreneurs,” he added.
The Secretary to the Vice-President, Mr Augustine Blay, commended Mr McKorley and advised young business people to take advantage of the prospects in the country.
He touted the role of the private sector in the growth of the economy, saying the sector thrived on vision, focus and discipline.
He urged businesses to take advantage of the thriving business environment the government had created to grow their enterprises.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Business Development, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim Awal, said entrepreneurship was a core value which emanated from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s vision, hence the creation of the Business Development Ministry to be at the forefront of National Entrepreneurship Innovative Programme (NEIP) to support start-ups and small businesses.
He said the mandate of the ministry was in line with the initiatives of McDan and indicated that 5,000 out of 15,000 entrepreneurs trained by the ministry would receive financial support this year.
Similarly, Dr Awal said, 4,250 entrepreneurs out of the 12,000 trained last year had already received funds from the ministry.
He promised to support the nine McDan Entrepreneurship Challenge finalists with GH¢300,000.