The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) has launched a project to build the capacity of small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs).
The virtual trade hub is intended to make them adopt sustainable practices to make their products meet the standards of the international market.
Dubbed: Trade for Sustainability Development (T4SD), the hub — which is being implemented in five other countries — focuses on the use of modern technology in the production value chain to ensure sustainable use of natural resources.
It is being implemented over a two-year period through a collaboration between the GPA and the International Trade Centre (ITC), with funding support from the Swiss government.
The hub is expected to equip SMEs operating in areas such as cocoa processing, shea butter production, fruits and vegetables processing, cashew processing, as well as arts and crafts, with a one-stop shop information and strategies on international trade.
The launch of the initiative brought together key stakeholder agencies such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry, GEPA, ITC, foreign missions in Ghana and players in the export value chain.
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The Chief Sustainability and Inclusive Value Chain Officer at ITC, Ms Vanessa Erogbogbo, said the selection process for 20 SMEs to pilot the project for the next two years would begin immediately.
She explained that the selected SMEs would benefit from a coaching programme, online training on resource efficiency, progress monitoring and access to finance facilities.
Ms Erogbogbo explained that for the next two years, the hub would roll out coordinated programmes that hinged on the use of electronic platforms to facilitate learning, coaching and mentorship sessions for operators in the SME sector.
She added that the capacities of the selected SMEs would be built in areas such as sustainability standards, resource efficiency, positioning products in the international markets and access to green finance - which refers to any financial instrument or investment, including equity, debt, grant, purchase and sale or risk management tool.
The Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Ms Afua Asabea Asare, said the launch of the T4SD hub was an important milestone for the authority because the project came at a time when suppliers needed to adopt environmentally sustainable production modules.
She said the launch of the hub was an opportunity for players in the SME sector to join the collective action that was being taken to achieve sustainable development goal (SDG) 12 on tackling climate change.
Ms Asare urged exporters and other collaborators to take advantage of the T4SD project to modify their activities to ensure that natural resources were protected.
A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Carlos Ahenkorah, commended the ITC for its decision to site one of the six centres in the world in Ghana.
“I am particularly happy when the T4SD is principally aimed at easing the participation of export-ready SMEs in the sustainable global value chain.
It will help them to understand issues of climate change adaptation, resource efficiency, green finance, market access and voluntary sustainability standards,” he said.
He said the initiative was also a key contributor to achieving the SDGs, and pledged the government’s support to the project and other initiatives that would promote sustainability in the SME sector.