The Global Shea Alliance (GSA) in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has organised a one-day business forum and network to build the capacities of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) in the shea value chain.
The forum targeted SMEs interested in trading and exploring export opportunities in international markets.
The forum brought together about 100 small businesses in the shea value chain and other key stakeholders in the financial markets in Accra.
Speaking with the media during the forum in Accra on November 29, 2022, the Project Manager of GSA, Mr Prince Nunoo, said the GSA organised the forum under their project with the Mastercard Foundation dubbed: “Shea Business Empowerment Program (SBEP).”
The SBEP, he explained, is a three-year programme which is intended to provide job opportunities for 90,000 women shea collectors in northern Ghana as well as to support 300 SMEs to grow their business by providing them with working capital.
Additionally, he said, the SBEP will help to develop and enhance shea cooperatives and SMEs in accessing capital, developing critical skills and market linkages in the shea value chain.
He said the shea industry holds a huge untapped potential and that the GSA was working with its partners to ensure Ghanaian industries benefited from the industry.
He said often times, many SMEs in the sector are challenged by lack of access to the financial and export markets, making it difficult to expand their businesses as expected.
Mr Nunoo said under the project, the GSA had conducted need assessment of its members to identify the critical challenges facing their businesses in order to profess workable solutions to their problems.
He said, for instance that, under the programme, the GSA would provide health and safety materials to the shea nuts pickers to protect them from the dangers of snake bites which is a major challenges shea nut pickers face.
Additionally, he noted, players in the sector would be provided with new innovative skills to process the sheanuts in order to enhance their work.
He said the Global Shea Alliance is a big family with over 663 members from 36 countries representing all shea stakeholder groups, including women’s groups, supporters, international oils and fat suppliers, and leading food and cosmetics brands.
Mr Nunoo said through public-private-partnerships, the GSA promotes industry sustainability, quality practices and standards, and demand for shea in food and cosmetic products.
He explained that GSA has organised a series of trainings as part of the programme to strengthen the operations of growth-oriented Ghanaian start-ups and SMEs and align the various aspects of their business supply and operational chain management.
According to him, the various training sessions have prepared entrepreneurs and managers for their daily tasks, such as managing suppliers and clients, developing business plans, and financing the expansion of their businesses.