Agri-food MSMEs get boost to unlock full potential


In collaboration with the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and with funding support from the World Bank, Africa Skills Hub has launched a programme to develop the capacity of small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

The new initiative, dubbed the ‘Agri-Food Enterprise Programme’ (AFEP), is a comprehensive programme designed to support agri-food MSMEs in the country to unlock their full potential and catalyse food innovations.

The first cohort comprising 20 agri-food MSMEs from the Greater Accra Region are set to begin capacity-building and mentorship training from this month to end of the year, after which it will be expanded to other regions.

Executive Director of Africa Skills Hub (ASH), Daniel Antwi, in his address at the launch said the programme will focus on innovation by using indigenous African ingredients and allowing entrepreneurs to develop and launch sustainable agri-businesses, scale-up and access local, regional and national markets.

He emphasised that the MSME sector is a vital part of the country’s economy, creating millions of jobs and contributing significantly to gross domestic product annually. However, he said, MSMEs operating in the agri-food sector face significant challenges that hinder their growth, competitiveness and contribution to the economy.

Some challenges the programme is aimed at helping to circumvent include limited business management skills; weak market linkages; limited access to finance; few networking and collaboration opportunities, and a host of others.

“We believe that this programme will help MSMEs in the agri-food sector of Ghana with the requisite knowledge, skills, support services and networking opportunities they need to strengthen their capabilities, enhance their market competitiveness and contribute to the sector’s growth and sustainability,” he added.

He further noted that the programme will impact all agri-food MSMEs and will be rolled out in two phases – the incubation phase and the acceleration phase.

Head of Programmes at ASH, Cynthia Debrah, said the incubation phase will provide intense training, mentorship and networking opportunities to early-stage agri-food MSMEs, while the acceleration phase will support matured agri-food MSMEs to access markets, funds and networking opportunities.

Chief Executive Officer of NEIP, Kofi Nkansah, commended the management of ASH for their efforts in nurturing young entrepreneurs – and also taking advantage of all government initiatives to run its accelerator and incubator programmes.

He said the NEIP will continue to partner and provide grants to Hubs like ASH to upgrade their infrastructure, equip themselves and also run more accelerator and incubator programmes to help start-ups.

Founder of Rosswood Company Limited, Priscilla Asante, said through programmes like the Agri-food Enterprise, start-ups can network and collaborate to grow – adding that access to markets is one of the major challenges entrepreneurs face; and it is important, hence the need to network and promote their businesses.

Mrs. Asante, whose company produces yoghurts and cashew products, called on start-ups to always take advantage of opportunities they chance on in their networks.

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