Empowering Ghanaian SMEs in Horticulture and Chocolate with new Training Programme


In February 2024, MSM kicked off a new training programme in support of Ghanaian Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in two sectors: horticulture and chocolate manufacturing. The training includes 5 modules of which the first on Value Chain Analysis for Strategy started in February. Other modules cover topics such as, marketing in global and local contexts; exporting within Africa; exporting to Europe and other remote markets; writing bankable business proposals to improve access to finance.

The group of 18 ambitious participants enthusiastically started the first module which comprised three evening sessions and a full day. The Value chain analysis module, taught by MSM’s Associate Professor Jeroen van Wijk, had three core topics.

First, the key role the SMEs play in adding value to the raw vegetables, fruits, and cocoa beans. A well-known problem in many African economies is that they still export raw materials, while value addition takes place elsewhere. Food processors and manufacturers address that problem.

Second, for African agribusiness to grow, food processors, manufacturers, and exporters should create demand-driven food chains. The traditional food chains in Africa are supply driven, fragmented, and without any lead firm that can coordinate the chain. This system cannot supply food for an increasing African and urban population of up to 2 billion people in a few decades. Demand-driven chains have lead firms (processors, aggregators, exporters, supermarket chains) who set quality standards, offer farmers the prospect of a market, and drive investment in upgrading at the various stages in the chain, as well as in value chain facilitation (e.g. transport, storage, agri services, research & education). SMEs in the horticulture and chocolate sector are lead firms in their own chain and play key role in organizing it.

Third, one of the constraints in Ghana’s agribusiness is the lack of capital. With Ghanaian bank loan interest rates presently at 35%, it is not feasible to opt for a bank loan. In this first module of the training programme, we analysed and discussed the value chains and business models of a few fintech companies that have started digital platforms for food trade in Ghana and elsewhere, such as Grow for Me and Complete Farmer in Ghana; Twiga in Kenya; and also FairAfric, a chocolate manufacturer in Ghana, not a fintech firm, but one that is raising capital outside Ghana.

Besides the interactive face-to-face training sessions, there was also an opportunity to have individual coaching sessions. On a voluntary basis, the participants could request one-on-one meetings with Dr. van Wijk to tailor information to their own respective organization and discuss action plans to strengthen their value addition.

An invaluable networking opportunity
Beyond acquiring valuable skills, the training week fostered a vibrant environment for networking, knowledge sharing, and exploring potential new business partnerships. This proved invaluable for the participants, all motivated professionals driven to propel their businesses to the next level.

The second module on marketing will start in March. The other modules follow in later months.

This Tailor-Made-Training is a joint initiative by four organizations: the Ghana Netherlands Business and Culture Council (GNBCC), the Cocoa Value Addition Artisans Association of Ghana (COVAAAGH), The Africa Trade Academy (ATA) and Maastricht School of Management (MSM). The trainers are from MSM and the ATA in Ghana.

Photo: GNBCC

Orange Knowledge Programme
This Tailor-Made-Training is part of the Orange Knowledge Programme (OKP) which is funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and managed by Nuffic. For more information click here.

MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies

This project is part of MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.‚Äč We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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