Beneficiaries of the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SLIEPA) ‘Business to Business Training’ in Koinadugu have confirmed the training a success to their businesses; this was disclosed during a follow-up and business-profiling visit in Koinadugu and Karene Districts, in the week of 20th October, 2020.
The training that was implemented early last year With support from the Smallholder Commercialization and Agribusiness Development Project (SCADeP), was to build the capacity of agribusinesses and entrepreneurs along the export value chain: to understand Product Development and Certification Schemes, Market Identification and Linkages, Value Chain and Access to Finance.
Speaking to the beneficiaries, Mr. Bobson Margai, the SLIEPA Acting Director of Export Development, extended to them greetings from the SLIEPA CEO, Mr. Sheku Lexmond Koroma, saying that he sent the team on a follow-up mission to know how the training impacted their businesses and to as well note their challenges and preferred recommendations. He also noted that the Export Department of the Agency is on nationwide business profiling and site visit to update its database with new businesses along the export value chain.
The owner of Mafu-Tamba Commercial Famers’ Cooperative in Kabala, Koinadugu District, Mr. Lansana Marrah, said the training was crucial to the development of their businesses as he now has Fair Trade Certificate and adopting the market identification and linkage skills, he now exports honey to Guinea, saying that he was able to export 25 bags (3 tons) of green beans to United Kingdom Last year and he also sourced market outlets for his products at local level.
Mr. Marrah owns 168 acres of land where he does integrated farming since 1998. Among others products, he farms in honey, poultry, vegetable, fruit, rice, onions, cashew, green beans, ginger with turmeric, which is on trial.
In the same vine, the Chairlady for Mabohaday (Unity) Development Organization in Fadugu, Madam Ballay Mansaray, also testified that the training was a motivation to expand the membership of their Cooperative in order to increase on their production capacity, to create new markets with the desire for value addition. She said that, the Cooperative contains seven groups with twenty-five members each and they mainly grow cassava, vegetable and rice.
She further said that they need support to embark on mechanized farming because the youths with the energy to work have resulted into timber logging to make fast money. She requested for capacity build in gari production process, best agricultural practice and Village Saves and Loan Association (VSLA).
The Chairlady of Kabala Women’s Cooperative and Deputy Chairlady of Sierra Leone Market Women, Madam Ramatu Fofana, together with a cross section of her members, also appreciated the visit of SLIEPA. They were enthusiastic to register with the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency, having briefed them about the Agency and its opportunities.
The common concern among them all was the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the sales of their products hence the reason for more market opportunities.