BACKGROUND TO THE PROJECT
Boosting the economy through exports
From the mid-1990s onwards, Ghana’s economic development had been a success story. Growth was high, particularly around 2010, when it hit 15 per cent, and the West African country had also been successful in fighting poverty. In 2016, however, everything changed: the slump in raw materials prices pushed economic growth down to a record low. Although the Ghanaian economy has now recovered, this low point highlighted the country’s dependence on global market prices for its main exports – gold and cocoa.
In addition, Ghana suffers from a very unequal distribution of wealth and income. Many Ghanaians still live in poverty and are unhappy because none of this economic growth trickles down to them.
Small and medium-sized enterprises could do a great deal to improve the situation, as they create employment and income-generating opportunities. In view of high youth unemployment in particular, small businesses need help to grow and create jobs. Growth requires access to new markets, including international ones. However, only a handful of Ghanaian companies are able to compete adequately on the international stage. Many lack the knowledge and resources required to hold their own on international markets, and their products do not meet international standards.
The international competitiveness of selected Ghanaian companies will be strengthened, and they will gain access to international markets. The project will therefore support economic development and job creation in Ghana. It will thus also help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
What do small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana need to become more competitive on the international stage? In a first step, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH identified answers to this question together with local stakeholders. Based on the findings, the following measures are being implemented:
Developing an export promotion scheme
The needs of Ghanaian SMEs were analysed in detail at the start of the project, and this was used as a basis for developing a programme to improve the international competitiveness of Ghanaian companies. The programme was devised in cooperation with a training institution from North Rhine-Westphalia that specialises in the field. It comprises training measures in Ghana and Germany as well as the opportunity to make new business contacts at trade fairs and B2B meetings.
Application and selection process
Up to 20 company representatives from Ghana were able to qualify for participation in the programme. The application and selection process was run in cooperation with the Delegation of German Industry & Commerce in Ghana (AHK Ghana). Key factors included company size, initial international experience, product volume and export appeal as well as the potential for creating new jobs. Many sectors that are strong in Ghana could be considered, such as clothing, furniture, interior design, jewellery, food and cosmetics. Programme participants were chosen in close consultation with other programmes being run by GIZ and sequa gGmbH.
Training in Ghana and NRW
Two training events will prepare the Ghanaian company representatives for the world of exports. First of all, a three-day preparatory training session entitled ‘Fit for Germany’ is being held in Ghana, teaching the basics required to market products in Germany successfully. Topics include international standards, EU import regulations, product quality and design as well as marketing and presentation. Intensive training will then be put on in NRW to transfer more in-depth expertise for medium-term export planning. This will cover, for instance, market analysis, international branding, distribution channels and marketing strategies, pricing, product quality and certification. Also on the agenda will be intercultural skills, such as German business culture and international negotiation. This intensive training will be supplemented by one-to-one coaching sessions.
Trade fair slots and networking
Trade fair grants will enable the programme participants from Ghana to showcase their companies with export potential at industry trade fairs in North Rhine-Westphalia. Potential arenas include the ANUGA food fair in Cologne and the Mode-Heim-Handwerk consumer show in Essen. B2B meetings will also be put on so that the representatives of the Ghanaian companies can build up a network of contacts among German businesses.
Opportunities in e-commerce
The options presented by e-commerce for the international business of Ghanaian companies will be assessed. Online shopping can represent an opportunity, particularly for companies that find it hard to raise financing. The programme is advising companies who choose to go down this route and assisting them with implementation. This lends itself well to cooperation with GIZ’s ‘100bridges’ project, which is helping small African businesses with the digital marketing of their products.
Title: Strengthening the International Competitiveness of Ghanaian Companies with Export Potential
Term: May 2019 – December 2021
Sector: Economic development
Supported by: State Chancellery of North Rhine-Westphalia