USAID announces $500,000 grant to support agriculture activities in Northern Ghana
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced a $500,000 finance grant to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to support agriculture in four regions in northern Ghana.
The innovative finance grant window forms part of a $39.5 million five-year project targeting 200,000 farmers in 17 districts across the Northern, North East, Upper West and Upper East regions.
The initiative, under the Feed the Future Ghana Market Systems and Resilience (MSR) Activity programme, is aimed at supporting the development and economic growth in 12 targeted crop value chains, namely maize, soya bean, cowpea, groundnut, moringa, mango, okro, shea, tomato, onion, bambara beans and pepper.
MSR activity focusing on strengthening commercial relationships between market actors such as out-grower businesses, smallholder farmers, producers, processors, buyers, input suppliers and lenders is being implemented by a consortium of partners led by ACDI/VOCA, an international development non-profit organisation.
Eligible applicants for the grant include commercial banks, rural banks, microfinance institutions and non-bank financial institutions. Impact investors, business development service providers, financial technology providers and agriculture input providers with the ability and incentives to give credit.
These came to light during a public roadshow in Accra, on Friday, April 14, 2023, to announce the grant process to prospective applicants in line with a series of activities scheduled to take place in Tamale, Bolgatanga and Wa between April 14 and 20, 2023 to help prospective applicants understand the purpose, eligibility requirements and grant application processes.
The event attracted financial institutions, representatives of farmer-based groups and other non-bank financial institutions to leverage private lender capital that supports improved access to finance, inputs supply and business development services that drive agriculture-led economic growth.
At the roadshow, the Deputy Chief of Party of the Ghana MSR Activity, Cecil Osei, said the difficulty of financial institutions working with farmers and other clients in the agricultural value chain with limited business records, management systems and growth potential coupled with the high borrowing cost and high-interest rates posed a significant challenge for agribusinesses.
The innovative finance grant window, he said, was aimed at addressing such challenges as it sought to reduce the cost of lending, improve the liquidity of financial services providers and encourage more agricultural service providers to offer targeted financial services to small and medium enterprises in Northern Ghana.
Mr Osei explained that the grant programme would provide incentive payments to financial services providers that increase access to finance for small and medium enterprises and increase the uptake of inputs to intensify agricultural production in the targeted regions.
Already, he said about 185 applications had been received and 108 of them had been processed.
He said he was hopeful that the initiative would help address food security and tackle poverty in the targeted regions as the MSR activity supports and strengthens agricultural markets systems to ensure greater productivity, efficiency and investment in goods and services that drive agricultural-led economic growth and ultimately increase income for households in the beneficiary areas.
Request for applications
The Team Leader in Charge of Agribusiness and Financial Services of the Ghana MSR Activity, Raymond Denteh, said the window was currently requesting applications for funding in the input guarantee product, co-investment facility and transaction advisory support mechanisms.
He said affirmative action strategies and incentives were in place for female and youth-led small and medium enterprises.
“MSR proposes bonus payments to transaction advisory support providers who close deals with females, persons living with disabilities and youth and youth-lead small and medium enterprises or climate change adaptation related issues,” he said.
He explained that activities under MSR sought to reduce gender disparities in access to and benefits from investments in the agricultural sectors.
Interested applicants have up to the end of July 2023 to complete the application process.