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24.08.2005 Business & Finance

World Bank, Barclays join forces to support SMEs

GNA

Accra, Aug. 24, GNA - The Barclays Bank Limited on Tuesday presented a cheque of 100 million cedis towards the promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), under the Ghana Development Marketplace (GDM) competition.

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

Mr Malcolm Hewitt, Managing Director of Barclays Bank in charge of Sub- Saharan Africa and Mrs Margaret D. Mwanakatwe, Managing Director of Barclays Bank Ghana Limited jointly presented the cheque to the World Bank Country Director, Mr Mats Karlsson in Accra.

Mr Hewitt acknowledged the huge potential of SMEs towards the growth of Africa's industrialisation and outlined the banks initiatives through the Barclays Business Club in Africa project to revamp enterprises.

He said the bank through the club had mobilised, trained, linked and developed a poll of financers, economic advisers, technical experts and consumers through a business network mechanism. Mr Hewitt, therefore, urged SMEs to take advantage of the initiatives, develop business proposals to attract investment and strengthen networking systems.

Mr Karlsson explained that the GDM seeks to provide grant funds to support the development of SMEs through innovative competition, to tap creative energies across the Ghanaian society 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. Mr Karlsson said "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 rewarding 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." The bank has already presented the first tranche of the coveted prize of over three billion cedis to 21 SMEs, whose projects and business plans were adjudged as excellent and innovative, during the competition.

Nine out of the 21 winners received 50 million cedis each, while the others were each given 100 million cedis each. Winners for the Ghana Development Marketplace were announced in Accra in June 25, 2005.

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