COVID-19 is not only a public health issue, but also has wide-ranging social and economic consequences. Lockdowns, social distancing and other measures put in place to contain the spread of the virus have disrupted people’s livelihoods all over Ghana and the world.
Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) were forced to close temporarily and are affected in their operations due to disrupted value chains and decreased demand from customers. Nationwide closure of schools and training institutions has interrupted learning for youth and young professionals. Women and men in the informal sector are not entitled to social security or sick leave and have little savings to fall back on to sustain themselves and their families.
However, in the midst of the devastation caused by COVID-19, innovative entrepreneurs are developing practical, fit-for-their-context solutions to tackling the pandemic. Young people like Richard Boateng and Kelvin Dapaah, who invented a touch-free, electronic hand-washing tap to help in curbing COVID-19, are only one example.
Support for entrepreneurs and innovators is crucial to helping Ghana overcome the pandemic. So is strengthening the capacities of youth and women, as well as MSMEs, to be self-reliant, resilient and able to take advantage of opportunities in their local environments.
This is why SNV’s Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn) Project, funded primarily with an amount of EUR 20 million from the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) for Africa, is not only working towards creating and strengthening a local economic environment that is green and climate resilient, but supporting youth (self-)employment and the growth of MSMEs. This requires strong partnerships among stakeholders from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society.
Some of GrEEn’s interventions to support the response and recovery phases of the pandemic include:
- Conducting a survey to ascertain how service providers supporting MSMEs are impacted by the pandemic – findings will be shared on our website in the coming weeks and discussed with a wide range of stakeholders in a webinar.
- Supporting creative, young entrepreneurs who have developed innovative solutions against COVID-19 in collaboration with i-Code and Kumasi Hive
- Testing an online platform for the facilitation of incubation and acceleration services for small-scale businesses in collaboration with MDF West Africa, Bridge for Billions, i-Code and Kumasi Hive.
- Testing a mobile app in collaboration with MDF West Africa that allows online and offline learning for participants of skills development and entrepreneurship courses; in combination with limited face-to-face interaction, as allowed by COVID-19 restrictions, these blended learning tools will support youth to take advantage of job and entrepreneurship opportunities.
- Promoting green technologies and inclusive, climate-smart business models in the sectors of agriculture, renewable energy and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) that will allow us to build back a better and sustainable future.
The GrEEn project is a reflection of our commitment to work with a diverse range of partners in promoting economic growth that is climate resilient, youth-focused and gender-driven.
Written by Beatrice Tschinkel.