PREHARVEST 2020: Ecobank to train participants on agri financing

Dan Sackey

The role of stakeholders in the agric sector is crucial to its development. Ecobank Ghana understands this and has made a commitment in this regard.

The 10th edition of the annual Pre-Harvest Conference and Exhibitions Billed for the Northern Regional Capital, Tamale will provide Ecobank Ghana with an opportunity to further demonstrate its support for the agric sector.

This year Ecobank Ghana play another central role as it supports the annual Pre-harvest event through training and logistical input.

Ecobank has become a conspicuous ally of the event as it has associated with the Pre-harvest Agribusiness Conference event for seven years.

The bank’s continuous sponsorship of the event underpins its belief in the immense opportunities within the Agricultural sector.

The event organised by Agri-house Foundation will hold in the Northern Regional Capital, Tamale from 7th -8th October 2020.

To mark its 10th year anniversary, the thematic scope for the 2day event will explore solutions for the transformation of the agric industry in view of the uncertainties created by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sticking to its tradition of knowledge impartation and networking, Participants will have the opportunity to interact with key industry players and colleagues from other areas of the agric value chain including, small and large scale farmers, aggregators, input dealers, machinery and equipment dealers, agro-processors, financial institutions, development agencies, Telcos, and many more.

There will equally be opportunities for sealing new business deals, acquiring new innovative ideas, and access to new markets your products.

This will be made possible through tailor-made training sessions like field demonstrations, presentations, commodity breakout session and exhibitions created by organisers to help participants.

Currently, the event is the only agribusiness event which revolutionaries and brings Ghana’s agricultural value chain together for business interaction and knowledge sharing.

Billed under the themed, “COVID-19 And Beyond; Solutions for Agricultural Transformation, the Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference is an interventional forum that presents a common platform for various value chain actors in the agric sector to meet, discuss business, contracts and adopt a renewed sense of purpose.

The Ecobank Involvement

Ecobank’s unique Pan African focus places it in an ideal position to achieve the firm’s vision of contributing to the financial integration and economic development of Africa.

In line with SDG 2, to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, Ecobank pledged in 2013 under the “Feed the future” project to ensure food sustainability in Ghana.

To this end, the bank committed to investing US$5,000,000 between 2013 and 2020 in the maize, rice, and soybean value chains.

It is an undisputable fact that the current level of Bank financing to the agriculture sector can be improved upon, and Ecobank sees this as an opportunity to continue to increase access to financing across the entire agricultural value chain. So far, Ecobank has invested an additional US$16,000,000 in the Agriculture value chain in less than 5years.

The bank is part of the event because it acknowledges that the event will promote dialogue and forge business partnerships amongst value chain actors and players, especially farmers, buyers, processors, transporters, input dealers, financial institutions and telecom companies.

Ecobank has tailor-made Digital Banking Solutions for Agribusinesses that guarantees growth and expansion for its clients.

The bank recognises that  Agribusinesses have a need to digitize their payments and have access to enablers to help them scale and have access to untapped markets leveraging the emerging digital economy.
The need for these solutions has become more critical than ever in creating modern and sustainable agribusinesses because of the pandemic which has accelerated the need for these solutions.

Proposed Solutions
Consequently, over the years, Ecobank has over the years, offered support to Agribusinesses through financing and advisory services to build strong enterprises within the Agribusiness space. As part of its value contribution towards the upcoming Pre-harvest Conference, Ecobank proposes to help accelerate the growth of agribusinesses through its digital infrastructure through the following solutions;
• Digital Farmer Payment Solution
• Enhanced Digi Banking pack
The digital farmer solution is a multi-pronged solution that enables large scale farmers including aggregators, licensed buying companies and out-growers to digitize their commercial sourcing operations through an efficient payment solution.

The solution not only streamlines payments made by large scale farmers to small-holder farmers but gives commercial farmers the ability to get visibility over the commercial activities through their intermediaries (i.e: purchasing agents).

To ensure the solutions work completely across the nation, the bank complements this service by streamlining the Cash-out leg of the Solution which is a critical piece of the pie in digitizing payments for agribusinesses. The Cash-out arrangements enable farmers to encash funds received on their mobile wallets or bank accounts through Ecobank’s Xpress Points, an agency banking and franchise branch as well as through mobile network operators. As a home-grown solution developed specifically for agribusinesses, the solution is accessible both via the web which requires internet connectivity or via the USSD which requires just a phone whether a feature phone or smartphone.

The Cash-out arrangements also help households within agribusiness communities to make an additional income by running these franchise outlets.

    The Digi Banking Pack is a bundle of solutions designed for small and medium scale enterprises to eliminate traditional barriers in accessing basic banking solutions and to provide wider market access. The solutions help SMEs to access banking services from wherever they are and at any time on both self-service channels and brick-and-mortar channels including Xpress Points.

The pack includes a bundle of solutions including bank accounts with unique features designed to meet the needs of small businesses, efficient and affordable digital collection and payment solutions, flexible working capital solutions and an end-to-end e-Commerce Solution to enable SMEs to sell on remote channels.

Account Solutions: Clients will have access to bank accounts that can be opened and accessed within the same day and includes an operational account to support their commercial operations and a business saver account to enable them to earn interest automatically on excess liquidity they hold. All account solutions are offered at a competitive rate to SMEs as maintenance fees are waived to enable them to grow and scale. There is no Commission on Turnover(C.O.Ts) charged on these accounts.
Payment & Collection Solutions: Small businesses will have access to the Collection and Payments solution with no set-up costs. The Payment Solution is accessible through Omnilite, an Online banking platform accessible through the web or as an App on either iOS or Android. The Solution can be used to make a host of payments including inter-account, interbank, international, mobile wallet, utility and other bill payments. The payment solution is also complemented with a Debit Card linked to the business’s operational account or a prepaid debit card which can be loaded with funds.

The Collection Solution includes EcobankPay which comprises of GhQR, an innovative, contactless solution that enables payments to be made by scanning a unique universal quick response (QR) code for an SME, and a Mobile Wallet payment solution which enables payments to be received from any mobile money wallet(i.e: MTN Momo, Vodafone Cash and AirtelTigo Cash) directly from the payer’s mobile wallet to an SME’s operational account held with Ecobank Ghana Limited. The collection solution is complemented with a card payment solution that enables businesses to receive payments over a web portal. Collection solutions can be deployed as an integrated payment link which will offer payers the opportunity to choose among multiple payment options to make payments remotely and/or through onsite solutions to enable SMEs to collect payments in-person at their premises or at fairs/exhibitions.

Financing Solutions: Ecobank offers flexible financing solutions to SMEs who are enrolled on its Digi Banking Pack to enable them scale. These financing solutions augment SMEs working capital by providing them with a Cash advance of up to 50% of their average collection turnover on its digital channels for an amount of up to GHS200,000. These financing solutions are offered at competitive rates as there is facility processing fees are waived. Interest applicable is fixed at a monthly rate of 3.5% and the facility is availed for a year but payable within a month from the merchant’s daily sales

Digistore: As part of the bank’s efforts in creating resilient SMEs following the effects and changes to how consumers assess products and services, Ecobank has enhanced the value proposition of the aforementioned Digi Banking Pack to include the Digistore which offers SMEs the opportunity and an avenue to sell their goods through a web store, through their social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and through USSD. This tool helps SMEs boost its market reach by creating and getting access to market demand to enable them to scale.

The Digistore service is complemented with a delivery service solution to enable SMEs to fulfil their orders by ensuring orders are delivered to customers seamlessly. This is possible through strategic partnerships with logistic service providers who are skilled at this business function and have the capacity to provide this service at competitive rates.

Ecobank is a universal banking institution, providing a wide range of flexible financial products and services to its Consumer, Commercial and Corporate Banking customers.

In a demonstration of its commitment to Agriculture, the bank is one of few banks with a dedicated desk specialised in the provision of Agricultural financing, across its entire value chain, from production to processing and marketing. The bank does this by leveraging on unique technological platforms and digital solutions, thereby enabling customers to do banking wherever, whenever.

Ecobank has been in Ghana for 29 years, having started operations in 1990. The financial giant currently has 67 physical branches across the country with over 200 ATMs, more than 1,000 Point of Sale Terminals, 2,200 Xpress Points (serving as agents) and some 15,000 accredited Merchants at EcobankPay points, who deploy payment solutions (Mvisa and MasterPass QR codes) for customers.

As a Group, Ecobank operates in 33 countries across Africa, with representative offices in Angola, Ethiopia and South Africa, special desks in the UK, France, China and Dubai and several other non-bank affiliate companies

Event background

In Tamale 10 years ago, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID ADVANCE) launched the Pre-harvest Annual Conference and Exhibitions.

The event was later passed on to Agri-house Foundation who has now organizes the event.

In 2018, the event was adjudged the Agribusiness event of the Year and is today a key feature on the agriculture calendar.

The event operates from a facilitative dimension through which it creates the platform on which smallholder farmers are linked to markets, finance, inputs, equipment, and information through larger commercial farmers and traders who have the capacity and incentive to invest in smallholder production.

The event focuses on accelerating the transformation of agribusiness in Northern Ghana with the Government’s initiatives, building and sustaining a strong consciousness amongst agro-processors to source raw materials locally, developing agribusiness entrepreneurs, and implementing valuable lessons gained from development partner interventions.

In 2018, and subsequently, the event has continued to record attendance and participation figures not less than 3,000. The 2018 edition recorded a total of 3,122 participants and 141 exhibitors, including farmers, traders, commodity brokers, input companies, machinery and equipment providers, transporters, financial institutions, ICT, Innovations, Poultry and Livestock companies, packaging and processing companies, development practitioners and government agencies, among others.

In 2019, the performance Tamales even better with an increased smallholder farmers’ participation (the majority of them being women).

The Pre-harvest Agribusiness Exhibition and Conference is organised by Agrihouse Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, the European Union, Yara Ghana, Ecobank and the Northern Regional Coordinating Council.

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