Twelve green businesses and entrepreneurs have received a combined matching grant of GH¢1.17million under the 2021 GrEEn Innovation Challenge. They include six businesses in the Ashanti, five from the Western and one from the Greater Accra Regions. The one business entity from the Greater Accra Region will be establishing an outlet in the Western Region soon.
The GrEEn Innovation Challenge is part of the Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn) project, a four-year action primarily funded by the European Union (EU), together with the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana, SNV Netherlands Development Organization and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), since 2019.
Anjo van Toorn, Country Director of SNV explained to B&FT that “GrEEn Project is aimed at creating sustainable jobs for youth, women and returning migrants, as well as supporting green businesses and entrepreneurs who want to transition into the green or circular economy.”
The GrEEn Innovation Challenge, which was started by SNV Ghana in July 2021, he said, is a yearly competition aimed at scaling up innovative green ideas and businesses to create sustainable jobs.
He explained that the challenge forms part of the GrEEn Project’s objective of supporting entrepreneurs and green SME’s as well as creating employment opportunities. “The Innovation Challenge is a great incentive and support to young entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, to transform their dreams and ideas into viable green businesses; businesses that contribute to a local circular economy in Ghana. GrEEn, addresses two big issues in Ghana: youth unemployment and climate crisis,” he added
The Head of the European Union Delegation to Ghana, Ambassador Irchad Ramiandrasoa Razaaly said: “Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, and natural resources shortage are major global challenges. These are shared priorities for EU and Ghana, addressing them is a necessity. It also offers a wide range of new business opportunities to young Ghanaian entrepreneurs partnering with the EU on promoting sustainable development.”
He explained that GrEEn Project is funded primarily by the EU with an amount of €20 million. “The project is being implemented jointly by SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF).”
According to him, the project is one of several initiatives running in the country and directed at creating sustainable jobs for youth, women and returning migrants as well as supporting green businesses to scale up. “Since 2019 and despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has caused and continues to cause, the GrEEn Project has been working at creating jobs and supporting green businesses,” he said.
The EU, he said, believes that young entrepreneurs have the solutions and the creativity to come up with ideas that tackle climate change and make use out of what is regarded as waste.
“These ‘green geniuses’, I prefer to call them, are not only the future of the world but are the present and urgent change makers that we need. By providing matching grants through initiatives like the GrEEn Project, the EU guarantees financial inclusion for green SMEs and businesses who are operating at the local level. Support for local businesses translates to jobs for people who live in the communities where these businesses are located, resulting in growth of the local economy,” he added.
Jesse Roland Prah, Chief Executive Officer of Roland Rice in the Western Region and a beneficiary of the matching grant told B&FT in an interview that “the GH¢175,000 grant will help to expand the company, improve the quality of our produce as well as give consumers the desire satisfaction they have always yearned for.”
Also, he said, the grant will be used to purchase a rice milling machine and a pelletizer to convert rice husk into pellets for generating fire to reduce the cutting down of trees. Again, he said the grant will help increase productivity in a long term.
He mentioned that the biggest challenge has always been financial support. “Lapses encountered in farming practices put our farmers in situations where they need financial support to enable them grow, expand and improve their yields but because there is a breach target that cannot be achieved.”
Again, he said machinery for rice production is hard to come by and that birds feast on the rice. “So, controlling birds on the field is very difficult, drying rice during the raining season is really a challenge so, we depend on sunshine.”
In a related activity in November 2021, the GrEEn project also awarded a matching grant of GH¢418,857 to 21 green businesses from the Ashanti and Western regions who have completed SNV’s Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) Programme under the GrEEn Business Plan Competition.