Twenty Ghanaian wood processing companies Monday started a training workshop under the ‘Ghana-Germany SME Training and Exchange Programme’ to build their capacities to be competitive on the local and international markets.
The programme, which falls under, “The Invest for Jobs”, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, was officially launched in Accra to mark the beginning of the second round of the Programme.
It is a two-year initiative being implemented by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Cognos International, a non-profit organisation, to implement educational projects as part of its social, not-for-profit mission in Africa and Asia.
Data indicates that the wood industry in Ghana contributes significantly to the economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings, increased employment, and opportunities for local development.
The industry is said to be dominated mainly by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that averagely account for about six per cent of GDP and also as the fourth most important foreign exchange earner accounting for 11 per cent of GDP after Minerals (36%), Cocoa (35%), and Tourism (12%).
It is also providing direct employment for more than 100,000 people in logging and processing mills as well as in public institutions, while it contributes about four per cent of the national tax revenue in Ghana.
Mr Timo Tekhaus, the Team Lead of Cognos International, explained that a first round of the 20 SMEs from the agri-processing, cosmetics, and shea nut processing sector had already participated in the programme in April 2021.
He said the current batch of wood-processing, furniture production, and furniture accessories SMEs would undergo a two-week training after, which one representative each of the 20 SMEs would be sent to Germany for a two- week practical business exposure and networking exploration exercise for another two weeks.
The two-week management training, dubbed: “Business-to-Business (B2B)” meetings will be held with German companies to learn at first-hand, experiences on production, quality management, and supply chain management from German companies.
At the end of the entire programme in 2022, the capacities of a total of 60 growth-oriented SMEs will be strengthened and their competitiveness in international markets increased.
Mr Tekhaus said out of over 100 SME applicants, 20 were selected and offered the opportunity.
Mr John Duti, Team Leader, Special Initiative Training and Job Creation at GIZ, said aside designing the programme, the GIZ was also providing technical support for the SMEs, funded by the German Government.
He said the programme was in partnership with the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Finance to ensure its successful implementation in Ghana.
That was geared towards helping the participating wood and furniture workers to expand their businesses, Mr Duti said.
“Their visit to Germany would help them to network with their counterparts over there and learn and pick up experiences that will help boost their competitiveness,” he said.
“It is, therefore, imperative that they are supported to grow and expand their frontiers by joining international markets. This falls in line with the key mandate of the Special Initiative, which aims at boosting the competitiveness of growth-oriented SMEs and to create strong linkages between Ghanaian businesses with European companies.”
A third batch of 20 SMEs will participate in a similar programme in March 2022.
Mr Emmanuel Tetteh Ashitey, with the Makers Consult, one of the participating SMEs, said any such technical and managerial training would ensure the sustainability and relevance of their businesses in the ever dynamic markets.