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Invest in Africa (IIA), a not-for-profit organisation, through its African Partner Pool (APP) initiative, is partnering banks to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) access funds easily for their business.

The APP is an online portal that connects both multinationals and local companies to SMEs that are looking for opportunities to get into the supply chain.

Speaking in an interview with the B&FT on the sidelines of a forum held in Accra to educate the business public on Invest in Africa and the APP, Ibrahima Aminu, APP Manager, said: “We give the local Ghanaian businessman market opportunities via the APP for skills training using a Business Excellence Programme, and to finance via our banking partners, that is, Ecobank, UT Bank, and Societe Generale.

A lot of the times, our SMEs get the opportunities but they don’t have the capital to be able to execute the jobs, so our banking partners, if you win the tender on the APP, will help you fund that deal,” he added.

He further said: “What we try to do is that through our excellence programmes, we educate SMEs on what the banks are looking for, because if you want to apply for a loan you obviously need to have your books in order.”

In addition to accessing funds, the programme offers training and grooming services for SMEs to develop their skills and managerial competencies as well, through the ‘Business Excellence Programme’.

Ms. Aminu added: “The APP is an online portal that primarily allows SMEs to be aware of what is happening elsewhere.

For instance, at Tullow Oil, or MODEC, giving them the feasibility apply and take advantage of opportunities available there. The portal is multi-sectored; giving all sectors the chance to be explored by business people.”

The vision of the APP, Mr. Amin said, is to grow the community by getting more supplier and buyers on board “because the more buyers we have, the more tenders there are”, adding: “We want to ensure that more of the tenders put on there are won by APP suppliers.”

Companies that are enrolled on the programme include Tullow Oil, GE, MODEC, Newmont, Atuabo Free Port and many others. So far, the value of tenders that have been won on the APP by suppliers is $11.6million.

The Chief Executive Officer of Adom Properties, Bright Boakye, a user of the APP, narrated to the B&FT how beneficial the platform has been for his construction company, saying the initiative has changed the phase of business since the company signed up in 2015.

“Initially, we were having issues with getting tenders, because you are mostly not aware of advertisements. You have to always go through the newspapers or do door-to-door visitations to offices, and this was stressful.

Since we became a member of the APP, we do not have to go through all that, because APP has all the information on tenders and they notify us when they put them up, and all we have to do is just bid,” he added.

To qualify to use the application, the business must be a registered Ghanaian entity that has operated for at least two years. The company would be required to pay GH¢235; which is the start and annual renewal fee to be activated, and thereafter, be notified via mail and text anytime a buyer puts a tender or a business opportunity on the platform.

Source: Rashidatu Ibrahim

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