… STCCI) partners CSED for RAVEs Initiative
The African Union (AU) brokered the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in 2015 and by March 2021, 54 African Countries are signatories to this agreement. The AfCFTA promises the facilitation of free movement of people, capital, goods and services across the member countries with a secretariat in Ghana thereby creating a market of over 1.3 billion persons, the single largest economic block in the world.
These market will serve African products and services with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$3.4 trillion with the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty and to raise the incomes of 68 million others who live on less than US$5.50 per day.
The World Bank estimates that the implementation of AfCFTA will facilitate measures that will cut red tape and simplify customs procedures and generate some US$450 billion in income gains for African countries.
Prior to January 2021, the scheduled date for AfCFTA implementation, each of the African countries had engaged their think tanks to develop their local strategies to plug into AfCFTA.
In furtherance, of this effort by African governments in achieving the objectives of the agreement, the Sekondi Takordi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (STCCI) has announced its partnership with Center for Strategic Enterprise Development (CSED), a technology driven Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) growth engineering support organization to launch the 200 Rising African Visionary Enterprises (RAVEs) from Western Region of Ghana.
The RAVEs Initiative for the Western Region of Ghana is one of the AfCFTA’s implementation solutions, targeting small businesses being piloted currently in Ghana and Nigeria.
According to Izu Divine Freeman, Chief Executive Officer, CSED: “Africa is an SMEs economy because over 80% of the continents’ businesses and employments are comprised/driven by micro, small and medium businesses therefore, AfCFTA’s objectives cannot be achieved without intentional and deliberate SMEs strategic framework which this project pioneers across AfCFTA member countries.”
Corroborating him, the Chief Executive Officer of STCCI, Vincent Annan, added that: “the implementation of AfCFTA in 2021 is been challenged with the aftermath of the COVID-19 which confronted small businesses with a number of challenges in 2020 including border closures, increased cost of operating businesses and decreased purchasing power of customers due to the covid-19 pandemic lockdown among others.
However, with RAVEs Initiative that strengthen SMEs with capacity, technology and finance interventions there is hope for AfCFTA”.
The RAVEs Initiative starts out with assessing SMEs through the AfCFTA Readiness Test focusing on legal framework compliance, business best practices adoption and growth readiness with the aid of RAVE Index Technology developed by CSED.
Upon completion of the assessments, the rated SMEs are supported with access to capacity (training, regularization support); technology (free Mobile App accounting, human resources and e-commerce technologies named Capsule App developed by CSED); and capital (grants, loan facilities and equity investment) to grow and expand their businesses.
The 200 rated and strengthened SMEs are further indexed in the RAVE Index portal for investors, featured in RAVE documentary, published in catalogues and showcased in a live event on the United Nations MSMEs day.
At the heart of this initiative is ensuring that the small businesses grow and are expanded to trade across Africa which will lead to enhanced sustainable job creation thereby lifting more people above poverty line.