Some 26 Small and Medium scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the Upper West Region have been equipped with essential entrepreneurial skills and knowledge necessary for the development and sustainability of their businesses.
That was under the SME’s Training and Coaching Loop programme, an initiative under the Market Oriented Agricultural Programme in North West (MOAP-NW) Ghana project, implemented by the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA).
It was funded by the European Union (EU) under the EU-Ghana Agricultural Programme (EU-GAP) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation (BMZ).
The 26 MSMEs drawn from across the region, comprising 16 small-scale agri-processors and ten agro-input dealers, went through about six months of training, mentorship, and coaching in effective business management.
Speaking at a ceremony in Wa to graduate the participants, Mr Pieter Smidt Van Gelder, the Deputy Head of Mission, EU Delegation to Ghana, expressed hope that the participants had acquired the needed entrepreneurial skills and knowledge that would enable them access financial services to develop and sustain their businesses.
“As we celebrate your graduation today, we look forward to hearing about your own business expansions in the future.
Your success stories will serve as an inspiration to others, paving the way for a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in this region”, he explained.
Mr Gelder thanked the GIZ for their support and commitment to enhancing the business management skills of SMEs and said the SME Loop programme had the potential to boost the local economy, foster inclusive structural change, and create economic fortunes, particularly for young people.
He explained that the SME Loop programme was just one element of the broader €132 million EU-GAP that sought to foster sustainable agriculture and create opportunities for socio-economic development in northern Ghana and to ensure sustainable livelihood of agriculture communities.
Mr Christoph Pannhausen, Team Lead for the Agriculture Finance Consultants (AFC), said the SME Loop was first launched in Siera Leon in 2014 and its success led to its rollout to other countries including Ghana.
He said there were other trainings running across the country with about 300 enterprises currently in the Loop, and were expected to complete their training and coaching by September.
Mr Pannhausen explained that their assessment of the impact of the programme on the participants revealed that “168 new jobs have been created by the participating enterprises in the last year.”
Mr Karim Dakurah, the Backstopper for the SME Loop programme in the Upper West Region, said issues of access to capital for SMEs remained a challenge and appealed to financial institutions to have confidence in the Loop beneficiaries as they had been trained in prudent financial management.
He also urged the trainees to use the knowledge they had gained through the training to help spur the growth of their businesses.
The beneficiaries said the training had, among other things, served as an eye opener for them as well as shaped their skills and knowledge in managing the businesses.
“They have taught us how to fish and the ponds and rivers are there, that is, the financial institutions and we have been trained to get the funding and to manage them properly”, Mr Yanbepone Perey, a beneficiary from Lawra, said.
Madam Portia Gban, another beneficiary from Wa, gave the assurance that they would implement the experience, knowledge, and skills they had acquired through the programme for their benefit and the benefit of society.