Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in West Africa and the Caribbean will receive support to maintain their business volumes during pandemics. Among other activities, this involves training in digital tools, promoting the use of dedicated websites, and strengthening basic entrepreneurial skills. This support will be deployed in West Africa by the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Benin, Ivory Coast and Ghana. The trade and investment promotion agency Caribbean Export will operate in fifteen Caribbean countries. The project started in June 2021 for 30 months. The activities will be implemented progressively on the ground from December 2021.
The Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) has over 50 million registered micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). They have been particularly vulnerable to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis. They are the backbone of local economies, accounting for about 90% of the entrepreneurial fabric and between 50% and 70% of employment.
The consequences of these figures on employment could be catastrophic, particularly for Africa, which needs to create between 12 and 15 million jobs a year to cope with its growing population. The stakes are high.
The OACPS and the European Union propose to foster the resilience of these MSMEs through their proximity support and the strengthening of their mastery of digital tools.
In this approach, business support organisations such as investment promotion agencies or Chambers of Commerce and Industry play a key role.
Caribbean Export will implement its 18-month e-Commerce Acceleration Project: the Virtual e-Commerce Accelerator Programme (VEAP), targeting Business Support Structures (BSS) and enterprises in the 15 CARIFORUM countries. These beneficiary structures will be supervised by a team of trainers and coaches in the fields of website development and e-Commerce operations. This could include strategy design and management, logistics, and electronic payment.
In West Africa, the Chambers of Commerce and Industry will understand and assess the digital transformation needs of micro, small and medium enterprises in their countries. The Chambers will then deploy the identified activities to enable these enterprises to take full advantage of digital tools to maintain their business volumes and revenues even in the face of containment.
For example, the Benin CCI will set up an improved version of the AHILIDO business acceleration service platform. Strategies for animating the MarketPlace of products made in Benin will also be proposed.
These projects have three things in common in order to sustain their social impacts:
- Women entrepreneurs constitute at least 50% of the targets.
- Civil society organizations and Diasporas are solicited, particularly in the framework of mentoring.
- Innovative approaches are encouraged in collaboration with institutional partners, technology platforms or marketplaces.
Expertise France is a public agency and an interministerial player in international technical cooperation that will join the AFD Group in early 2022. The second largest agency in Europe, it designs and implements projects that sustainably strengthen public policies in developing and emerging countries. Governance, security, climate, health, education…
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Our technical partners are
- Caribbean Export, the export promotion agency of CARIFORUM, the group of Caribbean countries within the Organisation of ACP States. This agency has been conducting activities since June 2020 on the appropriation of digital tools to foster the resilience of regional MSMEs. Webinars on e-Commerce have already attracted 1300 participants.
- The Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the targeted countries in West Africa, in coordination with the West African Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FEWACCI). The Chambers are the privileged bodies in each country to carry out the public-private dialogue. Their national coverage favours the dissemination of impacts as close as possible to all beneficiaries.
RESULTS / IMPACTS
At the end of the project
In the 15 Cariforum countries, up to 150 companies and 30 business support structures will benefit from the support of trainers and business coaches for their digital transformation.
Among other expected results in West Africa, 1000 Beninese companies will be supported to set up e-Commerce shops (beninmarketplace.bj).
CARIFORUM countries (group of 15 Caribbean states within the Organisation of ACP States)
Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago.
Among the West African countries (provisional list):
Benin, Ivory Coast and Ghana