About 22 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) operating in the green space, has pitched their business ideas to participate in the SNV Netherland Development Organisation’s Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities (GrEEn) Innovation Challenge, hoping to cash in on the €200,000 grant up for grabs.
The Green Project, which is aimed at supporting entrepreneurs and businesses in Ghana’s circular economy in an effort to promote sustainable jobs and development, was launched in June 2021 to award matching grant of up to €25,000 each to eight selected businesses in the green sector in Ghana.
According to the organisers and funding partners of the GrEEn Project expected to run for four-years, businesses which have innovative products and services in three green sectors: agriculture, renewable energy & energy efficiency, and Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH), in the Ashanti and Western Region, would be provided funding support to scale up and increase employment in their geographical area.
The GrEEn Project Manager of SNV, Beatrice Tschinkel, indicated that the SNV Development Organisation has four reserved areas of operations including support to district administration & local infrastructure, employability & entrepreneurship skills development, access to finance, and incubation and acceleration of green SMEs, under which the GrEEn Innovation Challenge Falls.
She added that the GrEEn Project has specific objectives which include: supporting communities and local economies to become green and climate resilient; improving the ability of women, youth and returning migrants to take advantage of job and entrepreneurship opportunities; and creating and strengthening a local enabling environment that supports youth self-employment and growth of SMEs.
“We are giving out up to €25,000 each to eight SMEs. It is a matching grant which means that the SME has to provide 20 percent of the support for their project or product, then, SNV comes in with the maximum support of 80 percent and in this case is €25,000.
We are looking at businesses with green focus. So first of all, the business should be able to benefit the environment, and then we are also looking at innovation, creative ideas and solution to environmental challenges in these regions and the nation,” she said.
Country Lead & Programme Management Specialist, UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Enea Stocco, a funding partner of the GrEEn Project, on his part, explained that the Western and Ashanti regions were selected because the project also focuses on irregular emigration and these two regions are recognised as places with high rate of this aforementioned activity.
“This project just started in the beginning of 2020, and is continuing because of the incredible results we are seeing and we have received other funding partners who are interested in supporting to develop other parts of this project,” he added.
The GrEEn Innovation Challenge, is being implemented by the SNV Netherland Development Organization in partnership with UNCDF, Embassy of Netherland in Ghana, and with funding support from the European Union Emergency Trust Fund (EUTF)
Business Development Advisor on the GrEEn Project, Frederick Acquah, indicated that access to finance is a big challenge to businesses, especially, startups and entrepreneurs, therefore, this fund, which seeks to support innovative ideas and projects, is a great step in the right direction as it would uplift this SMEs to a status that can enable them access funds from commercial banks.