More than 100 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises are participating in a three-day Green SME Networking Festival” aimed to help them create decent jobs and improve eco-friendly production and products in Ghana.
Organised by Invest for Jobs, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Ghana Enterprises Agency on the theme: "Promoting Green Business Practices for a Sustainable Future.”
It brought together several representatives from business associations and government agencies, such as Development Bank Ghana, Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Association of Ghana Industries, and the Management Development and Productivity Institute, among others.
The initiative is implemented among others by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fu?r Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.
The three-day festival will witness the participation of 100 SMEs with an interest in eco-friendly manufacturing, mainly from the agro-processing, fashion & textile, and cosmetics sectors.
The SMEs will partake in a series of business games and workshops on various topics related to eco-friendly and sustainable business practices.
There will be seminars on access to markets through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and e-commerce offered with the support of the German Alliance for Trade Facilitation and the Pan-African e-Commerce Initiative, both programmes also implemented by GIZ.
Additionally, the participants will be able to engage in business-to-business meetings, network with financial service providers and business associations, pitch business ideas, and participate in product exhibition events.
The main exhibition will take place on Friday, July 29 and is opened to the public to enable them have the opportunity to discover the various products of the 100 SMEs.
Commenting at the launch, Mr. John Duti, Team Leader of Invest for Jobs at GIZ Ghana, explained that promoting the green agenda is one of the key focus areas of Invest for Jobs and its commissioning body, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.
He highlighted that SMEs have a key role to play in the green agenda and encouraged them to rethink their business models in an eco-friendly way to ensure sustainable business growth.
Mr Duti said the businesses were selected based on their job creation potential and efforts and interest in innovative and green business approaches.
He said it was important for the businesses to think green because of the challenges with climate change and negative practices, which are endangering lives.
"Experts have warned that if we do not undertake urgent steps to stop this global warming by applying green concepts to our businesses, we stand the danger of increasing the number of environmentally related crises, increased hunger levels, mass migration challenges, as well as other social and economic disasters," he said.
He said the key focus areas of the Invest for Jobs programme was on promoting the green agenda across various spheres.
"We believe “green” is the way to go now, and we encourage all to come on board in changing the narrative," he said, adding that SMEs have a key role to play in the green agenda.
"I am very hopeful that this Green SME Networking Festival provides the tools to overcome the challenges that Ghanaian SMEs face. Our ambition is to encourage environmentally friendly business growth and job creation," Mr Duti added.
For her part, Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Enterprises Agency, lauded the 100 SMEs for their interest in adopting green business concepts and emphasized the need for Ghanaian SMEs to align themselves towards the green agenda.
According to her, "there is an increasing consumer demand for products with decreased negative sustainability impacts, making businesses with these products and business concepts more competitive than others, hence the need to go green."
She said sustainable business practices had become a moral imperative and with the relevant tools and information will also make excellent business sense.
She commended the GIZ for their continuous support to the sustainable growth and giving Micro, Small and Medium (MSME)
Sector the financial incentive of genuinely participating in the generational transition to contribute to an entirely new way of powering the world over the years.
"This strategy falls in line with the government’s goal to create jobs for our teeming youth on a sustainable basis," she said and urged the participants to take advantage of the opportunity presented at the event.
Following the Accra edition, the Green SME Networking Festival will take place in Kumasi in August and Tamale in October this year.