The team, led by the Chief Executive Officer of the bank, Mr Lawrence Agyinsam, and Chairman of its Board of Directors, Mr Kwadwo Boateng Genfi, visited the Casa De Ropa Company Limited, an agro-processing factory located at Gomoa Bewadze in the Gomoa West District, and the Ekumfi Fruit and Juice Factory at Ekumfi Nanaben in the Ekumfi District both in the Central Region.The essence of the visit was to afford the management of the bank the opportunity to monitor and evaluate progress of work of the home-grown companies it is financially supporting, in line with its core mandate.
During the visit, management of the two indigenous factories took the team round their establishments, particularly their farms, where they had grown the raw materials that would directly feed the factories, as well as the various processes the raw materials would go through before production.
Ekumfi Juice Factory
The Ekumfi Fruits and Juice Factory is the first factory to be constructed after the President had cut the sod for the commencement of the company on August 28, 2017.
It is situated on 50 acres and has already cultivated pineapple on farms scattered in the district. So far, the company has cultivated pineapple on 700 acres out of 1,200 acres allocated for the cultivation of the raw material to feed the factory.
The facility, when completed, has the capacity to process 10 tonnes of fruits per hour and has instituted a shared grower scheme or system that has engaged over 400 community members.Out of the GH¢60 million loan approved by the Exim Bank, GH¢58.5 has already been disbursed to fund the activities of the factory.
Casa De Ropa
The Exim Bank is supporting the Casa de Ropa Company Limited with GH¢14,400 million. So far, it has disbursed about 90 per cent of the money to the company, amounting to GH¢11.8 million, to establish a raw material base, particularly orange-fleshed sweet potato which will be processed into products such as biscuit, puree, bread, noodles and chips when completed.
One key benefit of the project is the fact that the main raw material will be produced directly by the company, which is intended to help reduce the input cost of the production of puree, chips, bread and biscuits by 50 per cent.
It is expected that the company will create 1,004 jobs by 2021 to reduce unemployment rate in the country.
Speaking during the visit, Mr Genfi said the bank was greatly impressed and satisfied with progress of work at the two companies, saying: “This is an attempt to expand Ghana’s non-traditional exports to create value addition and more importantly create jobs in the enclave of the companies.”
He said that it was anticipated by 2021 both factories would create thousands of direct and indirect jobs for the people towards reducing unemployment across the country, stressing that “we are not only producing the raw materials and adding value to them but also creating employment within the catchment areas of the factories”.
He encouraged the promoters of the companies to make judicious use of the funds disbursed to them towards achieving and realising the government’s vision of transformation through industrialisation.
“As a bank we wish to urge you to put funds received into good use so as to give proper meaning to the government’s vision through the 1D,IF programme,” he said, indicating that it was the hope of the management and the board of the bank that the factories would be ready for commissioning by the close of 2019.
He further admonished the companies to put together a well-documented and comprehensive corporate social responsibility plan that would compel them to give back to the communities in which they operated to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship between them.
He particularly noted that the Ekumfi Juice Factory, the first to be constructed, was very dear to the heart of President Akufo-Addo, stressing: “I am very happy to report to him that the Ekumfi project has been highly successful.”
Mr Agyinsam, in his address, said if the bank was supported by the government to fund such projects across the country, it would enable the nation to cut down on import substitution and expressed optimism that the 1D,1F programme would be a catalyst and vehicle for Ghana to become an export-led economy.
He further assured both companies that the management of the bank would take the necessary steps to address some of their pressing challenges to fast-track their operations.
Casa De Ropa CEO
In his remarks, the Chief Executive Officer of Casa de Ropa, Mr Ebenezer Obeng-Baffoe, said that work on the project was almost done and that what was left was the roofing of the main factory, as well as the installation of the already procured machines to pave the way for production to begin.
He said the vision of the company was to assist the government to reduce the importation of both sugar and flour into the country, since the sweet potato that would be cultivated could be used to produce sugar-free bread, reducing the importation of flour and sugar.
For his part, the Director of Operations at the Ekumfi Juice Factory, Mr Frederick Kobbyna Acquaah, said in the next six weeks, the factory would be ready for mass production and noted that “management is in a hurry to put the fruit juice on the market during the Christmas period”.
“The Ekumfi Juice Factory is more than ready to put its assorted juices on the market for Ghanaians to have a taste of them,” he said.