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25.06.2005 Business & Finance

Twenty-one SMEs receives three billion cedis


Accra, June 25, GNA - The Ghana Development Marketplace (GDM) competition ended in Accra on Saturday with twenty-one Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs,) whose projects and business plans were adjudged as excellent and innovative, receiving over three billion cedis to implement their programmes. Nine out of the 21 winners received 100 million cedis each, while the others were each given 200 million cedis. Initially, 20 out of the 50 finalists assembled were to receive the cash awards but the jurors finally ended up with 21 winners.

The GDM, which is a World Bank led sponsored initiative with support from local banks and donor partners, aims to reward innovation by entrepreneurs in the SMEs sector has a commitment of 4.5 billion cedis for well-packaged business plans. Over 1,000 entrepreneurs submitted proposals, with varying degrees of ideas raging from snail rearing to the use of neem trees for confectionery among others, but only 50 applicants made it to the finals after two levels of competition.

President John Agyekum Kufuor, in a goodwill message read on his behalf by Mr. Jake Obetsebi Lamptey to the organisers and finalists, said the government was pursuing the right policies to create the best environment for the country's businessmen and women, especially those in the SME and informal sectors. He lauded the efforts of the World Bank and other partners to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the GDM and gave the assurance that the Ministries of Trade and Industry as well as the private Sector Development and PSI lend their full support to the programme.

President Kufuor urged the various local partners in the programme to remain fully committed to ensure that the innovation competition becomes an annual event.

Mr Ishamael Yamson, Chief Executive of Yamson and Associates said the country would only be transformed economically through innovation and creativity. It is in this vein that the Ghana Innovation Trust Fund should attract contributions from all Ghanaians to award people who come out with innovative ideas that would develop the country. He said the funds would be monitored to ensure that it was well used and called for voluntary contributions from individuals, corporate bodies, among others, as soon as the modalities backing the fund had been established.

Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey said the selection of Ghana among ten countries to participate in the event was a recognition of the government's commitment to the private sector. He appealed to government to help institutionalise the competition. Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey presented a plaque each to the two SMEs, which tied at the first position-Neem Development Project and ChildNet Eletronic Publishing.