Sierra Leone Business: Regional SME’s to benefit from trade fair exhibition
The Director General of the Local Content Agency Fodeba Daboh has disclosed that they are proposing a regional trade fair exhibition which will take place in the provincial headquarters towns of Port Loko, Makeni, Bo and Kenema as part of the Agency’s strategic work plan in the second quarter. Daboh is hopeful that with the ILO’s support they will organise these fairs before the rains start. The Agency is also concerned about building their capacities in terms of packaging their products as most of them he said lack the basic skills. “We will concentrate on skills training, primarily on what packaging is all about, like labelling and quality. We intend to roll out such trainings nationwide and that will help them also understand what it means to exhibit” he said. The Ministry of Trade and Industry issued an ultimatum last year stating that all supermarkets should design a ‘Made in Sierra Leone’ shelf and that came into effect in November 2018. Since it became operational the Agency is said to have been monitoring it monthly. Based on feedback generated from their monthly monitoring, DG Daboh said they are faced with challenges from both sides; one is getting the suppliers to supply on time to the supermarkets. Also as an Agency they have been telling them that even though they want to promote local content they will not compromise standard, whilst stressing that not only local products can make it there but that they should ensure that they deliver quality product on time, well packaged and labelled. “If you talk to the suppliers they have been getting much more sales than before because they now have that market space as opposed to before, when they take their products, the people will say we do not want it here, – now they are called upon to bring in more supplies” he said. The challenge he added has been rolling it out to the provinces and they need to ensure that it is replicated countrywide. With support from their strategic partnership with ILO it will be replicated soon. One primary hindrance he said was associated with human resource and by ensuring that the building blocks are being put in place by recruiting staff for monitoring and evaluation of activities associated with the rolling-out process.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Monday April 15, 2019.