Agri-food Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana are to unlock the full potential of their businesses and catalyze food innovations with the introduction of the Agri-food Enterprise Programme.
The Programme will focus on innovation using indigenous African ingredients and allows entrepreneurs to develop and launch sustainable agri-businesses, scale up, and access local, regional, and national markets.
The Programme was launched by Africa Skills Hub (ASH) with the support of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance.
Mr Daniel Antwi, the Executive Director of Africa Skills Hub (ASH), speaking at the launch of the Programme, said was a commitment to driving positive change in Ghana’s agri-food industry.
He said Ghana’s agri-food industry was a vital part of the country’s economy due to its job creation and contributionto the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
However, in Ghana, MSMEs operating in the agri-food sector face significant challenges that hinder their growth, competitiveness and contribution to the economy.
These challenges include limited business management skills, weak market linkages, limited access to finance, little networking, collaboration opportunities and a host of others.
He said the Programme was linked to the Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aimed to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition.
“We believe that this Programme will help MSMEs in the agri-food sector in 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 growth and sustainability of the sector,” he added.
He said the Programme would impact every agri-food MSME and focus on two phases, the incubation phase and the acceleration phase.
Miss Cynthia Debrah, Head of Programmes at ASH, said the Incubation phase would provide intense training, mentorship, and networking opportunities to early-stage Agri-food MSMEs whilst the Acceleration phase will support matured Agri-food MSMEs through mentorship, access to market, funds, and networking opportunities.
She commended the 20 Agri-food MSMEs, the first Cohorts, who qualified for this Programme, saying embracing innovation and adaptability would take them into a brighter and more sustainable future.
Mr Kofi Nkansah, the Chief Executive Officer of NEIP, commended the Management of ASH for their efforts on nurturing young entrepreneurs and also taking advantage of all government initiatives to run its accelerator and incubator Programmes.
He said the government was collaborating with the private sector to help build an entrepreneurial nation.
The CEO said the NEIP was providing grants to Hubs like ASH to upgrade its infrastructure, equip themselves and also run more accelerator and incubator Programmes to help start-ups.
Mr Nkansah said the government would continue to provide additional support through the Hubs to grow and develop start-ups.
Mrs Priscilla Asante, the Founder of Rosswood Company Limited, said through Programmes like the Agri-food Enterprise Programme, start-ups could network and collaborate to grow.
She said access to market was one of the major challenges entrepreneurs face and it was important, hence the need to network to promote their businesses.
She urged start-ups to register with all the regulatory bodies to enable other businesses collaborate with them.
Mrs Asante called on start-ups to always take advantage of opportunities in their networks.