Cordaid, in partnership with ReGrow, Petroleum Directorate and RESOLVE, and with support from USAID, concluded the third cohort of its Resilient Business Development Program (RBDS) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The event took place on Thursday 13th of September 2018, with 30 Small and Medium Size Enterprise graduates from diverse sectors including agribusiness, food processing, services, fashion and healthcare.
SMEs who graduated from the RBDS program (© Cordaid)
The program follows previous cohorts, each of which included 15 SMEs. Through co-financing, Cordaid and ReGrow increased the number of participating businesses, creating greater economic and social impact.
Boosting Sierra Leone’s socio-economic climate
The graduation ceremony took place at the Bank of Sierra Leone Complex in Freetown. Attendees included Maria Brewer, US Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Emmanuel Konjoh, Head of the Local Content Unit at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Timothy Kabba, the newly appointed Director General of the Petroleum Directorate.
“The last three years Cordaid and its partners have provided business development programs, trainings and technical assistance worth over 13 Billion Leones. It shows our commitment to build a thriving and sustainable private sector in Sierra Leone.”
Mohamed Sesay, Cordaid Country Director Sierra Leone
Delivering the keynote address, Ambassador Brewer acknowledged Cordaid, ReGrow, USAID and RESOLVE’s investment in the capacity building of SMEs in Sierra Leone. This, she said, creates jobs and employment, especially among young people, helping to boost Sierra Leone’s socio-economic climate.
Key intervention activities of the RBDS Program included:
- Business Training: 8 practical and highly interactive business modules: Lean Business Fundamentals, Data-based decision making, Market Insights & Branding, Growth Strategy, Business Law, Talent Management, Access to Finance and Pitch Practice
- Business Coaching services for all SME owners on planning, setting and reaching goals, resilience, and other key areas of management that are identified to have additional coaching needs.
- Peer to Peer Learning: Forums, seminars, and workshops that improve access to information, opportunities for linkages, and knowledge sharing amongst diverse participants in the private sector.
- Ecosystem Events: Business clinics which are fortnightly workshops followed by consultations between BDS providers and owners of small and growing businesses. Monthly Pitch Nights in partnership with Global Entrepreneurs Network Sierra Leone (GEN) give entrepreneurs a platform to practice their business pitches while connecting them with the mentors, advisers, and business experts they need to grow their businesses.
- Technical advisory services from consultants on setting up plans and frameworks in management. Professionals in specialty areas are sometimes placed in the business to increase the operational capacity of the business.
Committed to build a thriving and sustainable private sector
“This flagship program is ending its third cohort and going into its fourth, with over 60 businesses trained and with Cordaid Investments investing 23 billion Leones in SMEs from within and outside the program”, says Mohamed Sesay, Cordaid Country Director in Sierra Leones. “Of this, 46% has gone to the agricultural sector, 34% to the manufacturing and light manufacturing sector, and 19% to services and renewable energy”, Sesay continues. “Across the last three years Cordaid and its partners have provided business development programs, trainings and technical assistance worth over 13 Billion Leones. These figures show our commitment to build a thriving and sustainable private sector in Sierra Leone.”
“The businesses we help will employ more workers, pay taxes, help bolster national institutions. They will help spur the growth of a society less needful of aid.”
Sheka Forna, Executive Director of ReGrow
A new set of lenses to look at businesses
CEO of Parene Health Care, Juliet Lavaly Amabebe, spoke of her experience during the 9-month program. “I want to take this opportunity to thank Cordaid and ReGrow. They believed in us as entrepreneurs with potential”, she says. “They took us through this journey that has given us a new set of lenses through which we now look at our enterprises. One of the most valuable exercises for us was the exposure to entrepreneurs and organizations that shared their experiences and pitfalls with us. They gave us hands on training and tools that we are now implementing ourselves.”
Sheka Forna, Executive Director of ReGrow, reinforced the importance of supporting the private sector in Sierra Leone. “If we are to bring about the sustainable economic growth needed to build our country, and to build our resiliency as a nation, we must develop our private sector and, in particular, our SMEs”, he observed. “The businesses we help will employ more workers, pay taxes, serve as exemplars of best practice and help bolster national institutions. They will help spur the growth of a society less needful of aid. One that can help itself and help others.”