52 SMEs to benefit from AGI/GIZ AfNEXT grant scheme


By Juliet ETEFE      

A total of 52 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating across the country have been selected to benefit from the African SME Network for Exchange and Trade (AfNEXT) programme.

Launched by the German Development Cooperation in collaboration with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), AfNEXT aims to support growth-oriented and export-oriented SMEs with critical equipment and technical assistance.

This support is expected to lead to an increase in production capacity and improved access to markets of beneficiary SMEs.

SMEs account for about 60 percent of the country’s total Gross Domestic Product, and on a regional level SMEs in Africa play a major role in economic development and industrialisation; especially in manufacturing sectors such as agri-processing, cosmetics and fashion, as they produce a huge variety of products.

This notwithstanding, SMEs in Ghana and within the African region face several challenges such as poor business approaches and inability to access finance for acquiring modern operational equipment/tools, and this impedes their production capacity, market access and overall growth.

To address these, the AfNEXT project offers a combination of financial and technical assistance aimed at increasing the production capacity of selected SMEs through equipment support and improving their export readiness through training and consulting services.

This support will enable them to expand their customer base on a domestic, regional and global level, and also with a focus on green and energy-efficient production.

Speaking on behalf of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, which is implementing the project on behalf of the German Federal Government, Mr. John Duti highlighted that AfNEXT will not only improve the capacities of Ghanaian SMEs but also aid for efforts toward creating more decent jobs to tackle the unemployment deficit facing the country.

He said it is expected that through AfNEXT, about 350 new decent jobs will be created, as well as reduced dependence on imports from overseas; thereby strengthening African economies and markets.

“AfNEXT is implemented within the framework of Invest for Jobs, the brand of the Special Initiative ‘Decent Work for a Just Transition’.

“Let me also mention that as we seek to create new jobs through this intervention, we will place a lot of emphasis on the decency of the jobs. Hence, the topics of social protection and occupational health and safety have been included in the training curriculum,” he said.

He noted that “AfNEXT activities will also be implemented in Egypt and Ethiopia by our partner, Sequa, to allow exchanges between SMEs from different African countries”.

Chief Exchange Officer-AGI, Seth Twum-Akwaboah, is confident that support from the German Government, through GIZ, will have a significant impact on our SMEs in upscaling their operations, making them more efficient and competitive in the Ghanaian business environment.

He believes that the programme will impact their export competitiveness and enable them to take advantage of the Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Dr. Humphrey Ayim-Darke, President-AGI, is also positive about the initiative; noting that it will support the agenda of exporting locally produced items and reducing overdependence on imports.

Commenting on the recent government US$200m boost for SMEs, he advised the use of tried and tested strategy in the execution – and further called on government to create purposeful, targetted interventions in the private sector.

In his remarks, Director of Trade and Membership at the Chamber of Agribusiness, Nlaliban Wujanji, urged SMEs and the business ecosystem as a whole to embrace a positive mindset and leverage strategic partnerships for growth.

He emphasised the importance of adequate planning with clearly defined missions and visions to guide their operations and employees, ensuring business success independent of the owner.

Mr. Wujanji further advised that as the business ecosystem evolves, SMEs should hope for the best but crucially plan for unforeseen circumstances.

AfNEXT builds on the success of the ‘SME Grant Scheme for Job Creation project’ implemented in 2022 by GIZ and AGI within the framework of the Special Initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition” of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Through the Scheme, 65 Ghanaian SMEs were supported to acquire equipment/tools needed for their core operations – enabling them to expand and create jobs.

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