31.05.2005 Business & Finance

Ghana Development Marketplace competition

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Accra, May 31, GNA - The World Bank Group and other partners implementing the Ghana Development Marketplace (GDM) have fixed June 24-25 to award competing Small and Medium Entrepreneurs award worth about 4.5 billion cedis.

The Ghana Development Marketplace, an initiative to provide grant funds to support the development of SMEs, seeks, through this innovative competition, to tap creative energies across the Ghanaian society to boost local creativity, enterprise, job creation and poverty reduction.

The theme for the event is "Innovation! Entrepreneurship! Jobs!" About 20 award winners out of the 50 finalists short-listed from the preliminary 1,005 proposals would receive awards ranging from 50 million cedis to 300 million cedis, according to the Country Director of the Bank, Mr. Mats Karlsson.

Mr Karlsson told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra that the target sectors included Agri-business, Waste Management, Agro-forestry, Environment, Health, Education, Small-Scale Mineral Processing, Art and craft, Information Technology and Tourism. The Proposals were assessed according to: innovation, entrepreneurship, job creation, realism and results, sustainability and value for money.

He said an initial shortlist of 111 applicants was taken through orientation and capacity building, which was supported by SNV and run by EMPRETEC.

After submitting fine-tuned proposals, the 111 applications were further screened thoroughly and reduced to 50 finalists who would participate in the final of finals.

A team of jurors made up mostly of heads of private and public institutions, civil society organizations and development partners will then do a final assessment, including face-to-face interviews of the 50 finalist, and choose 20 winners, who will then be presented with the awards.

Mr Karlsson said proposals, which did not win awards would be kept in a databank to be marketed later to financial institutions and other sponsors for review and possible support.

"If this first event goes well, given the enthusiasm we are getting from potential sponsors, we would want to see it become an annual affair for awarding innovation and SME excellence in Ghana in a competitive and transparent manner.

"There are suggestions that an innovation trust fund be established toward which various stakeholders, including government, private sector, development partners and civil society organizations would contribute to.

"We are exploring this avenue and if we get good results, we, the World Bank Group would be willing to be associated with it," Mr Karlsson added.

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