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Soccer fans wave Ghana' flags in Yeoville outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday July 2, 2010. (Jerome Delay/AP)
Soccer fans wave Ghana' flags in Yeoville outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Friday July 2, 2010. (Jerome Delay/AP)

Small Business Briefing

Company from Ghana wins startup prize Add to ...

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Global Entrepreneurship Week kicks off

A tech company from Ghana has taken top spot in the 2012 Startup Open, besting 49 other competitors from around the world, including Canada.

Dropifi has built a web messaging platform designed to replace the traditional “contact us” form with a smart widget that allows companies to better analyze and organize incoming messages. Users get more information about the people sending material, and a sense of whether the content is positive or negative. “This gives companies critical insight to respond more effectively to existing and potential customers,” according to a press release.

The Startup Open winner has been announced as a launching point for Global Entrepreneurship Week, a Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation initiative that features events and competitions in 130 countries.

Dropifi’s co-founder, David Osei, was awarded an all-expenses-paid trip to Rio de Janeiro to attend one of the world’s largest startup community gatherings, the Global Entrepreneurship Congress, in March.

Student entrepreneurs face off in NYC

Canadian entrepreneur Brett Sheffield competes this week at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards, being held in New York from Nov. 14 to 16. The University of Manitoba student also owns two businesses, Sheffield Farms and Stay Fit Health Club. He was crowned Student Entrepreneur National Champion by the Advancing Canadian Entrepreneurship organization, and he will represent the country against 30 other competitors from around the world. The GSEAs, a press release states, “bring global visibility to student business owners who are innovative, profitable and socially responsible.”

Daily deals gone south

With Groupon’s core business stagnating and LivingSocial struggling to make money, the leading daily deals sites are attempting to diversify to survive, Reuters reports. So what happened to the advertising model that was supposed to change the nature of small-business marketing? A Raymond James survey of about 115 businesses that used these types of services found nearly 40 per cent were unlikely to run another promotion in the next few years, due to high commission rates and an uninspiring level of repeat customers. About a third of respondents said they lost money on daily deal promotions, and approximately 40 per cent found other types of marketing more effective.


Strategic planning for manufacturers

Thinking of buying or selling a manufacturing business? The importance of strategic planning is highlighted by a number of factors, including uncertain valuations, shifting demographics and the overall state of the economy. Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters (CME) and RBC’s managing director of corporate finance, Paul Morgan, are hosting a webinar Nov. 27 from 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm ET on what you need to know about the process. Registration is free for CME members.

Access to mentors in B.C.

B.C.’s Women’s Enterprise Centre is participating in the StartUP Canada “Canadian Mentorship Challenge” to help mentor 10,000 entrepreneurs during Global Entrepreneurship Week, which starts Monday. It’s offering “fun and exciting ways for women entrepreneurs, throughout the province, to have access to experienced mentors.” Check out the list of events here.


Crowdfunding debate in Canada

Provincial securities commissions are still debating whether crowdfunding, which enables investors to take an equity stake in a small business, should be permitted. New Brunswick premier David Alward has asked for a crowdfunding study and the Ontario Securities Commission is debating whether to expand the number of investing exemptions that protect investors. The British Columbia Securities Commission is also circling the topic and wants to dig deeper.


Glimmers of hope

When turning to crowdfunding to finance a project, one of the most important considerations is where that project lives. There are many different crowdfunding platforms and strategies, each with its own distinct advantages, as this story from May, 2012 pointed out.

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