Stanbic Bank Ghana has partnered TIAST Group, an agricultural machinery investment and management organisation, to provide funding for the purchase of cassava processing equipment and establishment of processing centres.
According to the bank, instead of the usual 50-60 percentage of funding support it gives to agric-businesses, it is willing to inch it up to 80 percent for women involved in the cassava production and processing value-chain, in recognition of women’s contribution to national development.
Head of Commercial Banking-Stanbic Ghana, Abdul-Jaleel Hussein, speaking at TIAST Group’s fourth Agricultural Industrialisation Conference said: “Mostly, what we do with agriculture equipment is that we give the entrepreneur 50 or 60 percent of the funds required and you provide the other 50 percent.
“But because of the special arrangement we have with TIAST, we will provide 70 percent of the funds whilet the entrepreneur provides 30 percent; and further, to commemorate the International Women’s Day, that 30 percent contribution for the entrepreneur we are reducing to 20 percent for women.”
Furthermore, he emphasised that because it takes a while to set up the equipment and for the raw materials to be ready, the funding arrangement which comes with zero collateral has been made flexible – giving a moratorium for setting up to be done and processing to begin before payback starts, and stretched within a five-year period.
The programme was held to promote International Women’s Day on the theme ‘Empowering women through financial & technological support for cassava processing’.
Chairperson-TIAST West Africa, Lisa Hao, stated that cassava has moved from a traditional food crop to an industrial resource – and the demand for starch on the Chinese market alone is over 3 million tonnes and has the trend of increasing year on year.
He added that in Ghana cassava can be grown everywhere and all year round – meaning that the country can make more foreign income from export of processed cassava products through value-addition, which requires technology; and TIAST comes in handy to provide such services.
Business Development Executive-TIAST, Irene Sackey, indicated that women have been marginalised for years in almost all areas of productivity and are usually faced with difficult challenges: such as insufficient funds to engage in large projects, inadequate technology to boost their production, and difficulty in finding a ready market for produce.
“TIAST seeks to solve these problems and add more value to the agricultural value chain. We have designed a special cassava project that will provide the financial support, technology and technical support as well as a ready market in China.
“TIAST will provide the technology and technical support to the factory, including localised supply of spare-parts, maintenance services and technical personnel. Finally, when the factory processes the raw materials, TIAST will off-take all the processed goods,” she said.
Director-Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD), Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Madam Paulina Addy, touted the partnership initiative to provide both funding and technical support for cassava farmers and processors as a good one that will help women to be the breadwinners that they are.
However, she urged the women to rely on good research to know the market size & frequency of produce, and make data available to improve on provision of information to help decision-making – adding that planning, working together, proper packaging and ensuring consistent product quality are very important factors which must be considered; because when the quality of the produce is compromised, nothing can be done to rescue the value chain process.