UNIDO, Japan commit US$3.4m to support MSMEs in agribusiness


The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and government of Japan have signed an agreement to enhance the competitiveness of Ghanaian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in pushing for economic and social development in the country.

Targetting over 100 firms in the Ghanaian agribusiness space, the US$3.5million partnership is expected to promote Japanese Kaizen practices in the MSME sector to foster development of sustainable agribusiness.

Kaizen is a Japanese word that means improvement or change for the better. It is defined as a continuous effort by every employee (from the CEO to field staff) to ensure the improvement of all processes and systems of a particular organisation.

With funding from the government of Japan and in collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), UNIDO will implement what it terms “expanding the Kaizen initiative by enhancing sustainable agribusiness” project through the organisation’s digital dashboard system, which will address among others the economic performance, resource efficiency, environmental sustainability and social welfare of MSMEs.

Addressing journalists during the official signing ceremony on Monday, July 18, 2022, UNIDO representative for Ghana and Liberia, Fakhruddin Azizi, said the 3-year project will support Ghanaian MSMEs in their productivity and performance improvement to become more competitive, more sustainable and more resilient to challenges.

“Kaizen is the right methodology, philosophy and mentality that will help Ghanaian enterprises become more competitive, sustainable and resilient,” he added.

The project, he further added, will enhance the capacity of GEA as well as introduce digital tools so that MSMEs will be able to measure their production performance and improve it sustainably.

He said the project was developed in line with government’s development priorities, and that he is confident it will contribute to the ongoing efforts toward achieving the country’s developmental objectives.

On his part, the Japanese Ambassador to Ghana, Mochizuki Hisanobu, said at the industrial development process’s core is a unique feature of emphasising sustained continual improvement, and most of the know-how that has enabled Japan to achieve sustained continual improvement emanated from the adoption of production management methods such as the Kaizen.

He therefore expressed excitement that Ghana is willing to learn from the best practices of what the Kaizen initiative has to offer, so as to enhance the capacity of MSMEs and agri-business enterprises in the country at a time the world is reeling under the destructive COVID-19 pandemic and Russian-Ukraine war.

“Fortunately for Ghana, this project we are signing today will not be the first time the Kaizen initiative is being implemented. Since 2012, JICA has been rolling-out technical cooperation projects utilising Kaizen.”

Examples of such projects are: the Project for Formulating a Strategic Module for Quality/Productivity Improvement through Strengthening of Business Development Services for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (2012-2015); the National Kaizen Project (2015-2018); and the Enterprise Development Project with Kaizen (2020-2025).

While he encouraged Ghana to adopt the Kaizen ideas in its work culture, Mr. Hisanobu noted that it is also important to acknowledge the differences in Kaizen styles.

“In this regard, Ghana must look more broadly at how it can integrate Kaizen to suit its local needs and conditions. For example, Ghana has to look at how the Kaizen philosophy can help propel government’s flagship programme of Ghana Beyond Aid and other initiatives such as NABCO, One District-One Factory and Planting for Food and Jobs,” he stated.

Commending the collaboration between UNIDO and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) that has led to many impactful interventions in Ghana, Mr. Hisanobu added that the latest project has come at the right time as Ghana, just like the rest of the world, is recovering from economic impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, saying: “The agro-processing and food-processing sector offers an opportunity of job creation for the youth. It is therefore commendable that this project is focusing on the sector”.

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