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30.07.2005 Regional News

World Bank presents prizes to Twenty-one SMEs


Accra, July 30, GNA - The World Bank has presented the first tranche of the coveted prize of over three billion cedis to 21 Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs,) whose projects and business plans were adjudged as excellent and innovative during the Ghana Development Marketplace (GDM) competition in Accra. Nine out of the 21 winners received 50 million cedis each, while the others were each given 100 million cedis.

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 and has a commitment of 4.5 billion cedis for well-packaged business plans.

Presenting the money to the winners Mr Kofi Boateng Agyin, Acting World Bank Country Director, urged the SMEs to use the money judiciously. He said the bank would continue to work with the government and the private sector to ensure that people are economically empowered, provide support for business entities and reward innovation. Speaking to the Ghana News Agency after receiving the award Ms Gloria Asare, the Managing Director of Global Bamboo Production Limited, commended the bank and its affiliate bodies for initiating the competition.

On the viability of bamboo cultivation and production in the country, Ms Asare said the use of bamboo is gradually replacing wood as prop in the construction industry. However, she said, it is being exploited at a faster rate than it is regenerating and could face possible depletion if it is not cultivated. "We need to determine the resource base of the plant, its biological nature, other characteristics and rate of exploitation to successfully put it under plantation to replace what is exploited."

Ms Asare said, "although bamboo has been with us for a long time, we never appreciated its true potential to our economic development agenda." She said the bamboo industry was a key resource for the country upon which manufacturing activities could be organised to accelerate employment generation, increase export earnings and sustain the targeted development of rural areas. Ms Asare identified bamboo-based products as flooring, wall panels, kitchen cabinets, flush doors and packaging materials among others.

Mr Alexander Tetteh who represented the Ghana Society of Physically Disabled said the award would help the association to expand its chalk production business. 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 association would judiciously utilize the fund. Winners for the Ghana Development Marketplace were announced in Accra in June 25, 2005.

The GDM, an initiative to provide grant funds to support the development of SMEs, seeks, through this innovative competition, to tap creative energies to boost local creativity, enterprise, job creation and poverty reduction. The target sectors include agro-business, waste management, agro-forestry, environment, health, education, small-scale mineral processing, art and craft, information technology and tourism.