Access to Finance “Boot Camp” Builds Up Sierra Leone’s Agri-Business Muscle
More than 25 small and medium-sized enterprises in Sierra Leone took part in an intensive 3-day business boot camp in January, aimed at strengthening the capacity of cocoa, cassava, and palm oil agribusinesses value chains in the southeast region of the country.
Under the guidance of local financial advisers trained by the International Trade Centre, boot camp participants focused on the fundamentals of business financing, including financial planning and management, business plan development and product costing.
“The training made me learn more about business planning around the value chain, doing a SWOT analysis, understanding legal compliance issues and above all, tracking my expenditure against my income”, said Fatmatta Kallon, a female agribusiness CEO.
The aim is to create jobs and strengthen the economic resilience of Sierra Leone by improving its competitiveness and business environment, as well as enhance its integration into regional and international markets. The cassava, cocoa, and palm oil sectors hold considerable employment and export potential opportunities for the country.
On the final day of the boot camp in Kenema city, participants worked alongside mentors to develop and agree on company-specific action plans and a timeline of future activities. The strategies provided the agri-entrepreneurs with a guided course of action over the next few months to prepare them to attract investors and access sources of finance.
The next boot camp is planned for March 2021 to allow selected MSMEs from other districts in Sierra Leone to participate.
The boot camps are the first of several activities lined up by ITC to bolster the potential of SMEs in the framework of the West African Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) national chapter in Sierra Leone. The program is managed by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and funded by the European Union.
Future events will include financial coaching sessions, the creation of linkages between SMEs and capital providers, and the development of bankable business plan.