The Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) has held a four-day Market Access and Value Chine Training for Agricultural Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Kono and Koinadugu Districts respectively. The training spanned from the 12th 15thMarch, 2019.
In their welcoming statements, the Ministry of Agriculture and the District Councils encouraged their people to entreat the training with utmost seriousness and to put the knowledge gained into good practice to benefit them and their Districts. The District Agriculture Officer for Koinadugu, Madam Bridget Kamara, expressed happiness for the capacity building by thanking SLIEPA for considering them. She said, the training was timely as she aimed to see products made in Koinadugu on the shelves of supermarkets across the country.
The purpose of the training according to Mr. Bobson Margai, the SLIEPA Acting Director of Export Development is to ensure that the participants learn new ideas on accessing bigger markets and how to improve on their traditional methods. He noted that the training was geared towards developing the participants’ capacity on the intricacies involved in exporting their products to the international markets that would enabled them to realize bigger income.
Giving an overview of the training, he said though SLIEPA does not provide financial support to agribusinesses like Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), but it offers technical services and facilitates supports for them through other development partners from which many Agricultural SMEs have benefited. He emphasized that SLIEPA was established to facilitate investment and to develop and promote export. Mr. Margai added that the participants have the task to teach their colleagues the knowledge they have acquired from the training and that they are not alone, SLIEPA is with them, as it will be paying site visits to their facilities to record their challenges and discuss the solutions.
He ended his statement by declaring the training opened on behalf of the Chief Executive Officer of SLIEPA, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma and the Chairman Board of Directors, Mr. Jonathan George.
Commencing the training, Mr. David Bartholomew, the Trainer consultant, mentioned that the Market Access and Value Chain Training is different from other trainings because it teaches the participants the elements required to sell their products in international markets through which agribusiness makes more money. Among other things, he energized the participants to add more value to their products so that they can meet the domestic standard as a preparation to enter the international market.
The training covered topics on product development and certification schemes, market identification and Linkages, value chain and access to finance for SMEs.
In an interactive session, the participants expressed their gratitude to SLIEPA for such a unique capacity building. According to the President of Kono Women’s Cooperative, Bondu B. Sheriff, SLIEPA through the training, has positioned their minds towards entering bigger markets because they have acquired the steps leading to that. She noted that their cooperative comprises twenty-seven women’s groups and they are in various agricultural activities.
Madam Fatu Faal, the Chairlady of “Hadifoti Women’s Group” in Kabala, said the training has demystified the complexity surrounding exportation. She said they have learned that, meeting the standards and the acquisition of certain certificates makes it possible to export products from Koinadugu to international markets.
The participants however, pleaded to SLIEPA, the government of Sierra Leone and other development partners to support and mentor them through the value chain so that their products will be sold on the shelves of domestic Supermarkets and eventually to the foreign markets.
The training ended with awarding of certificates to the participants.