By Princetta Williams,Information Officer, MTI
With support from the Government of Sierra Leone, the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDA) in collaboration with Ministry of Trade in collaboration with the have held a one – day consultation on the National Micro Credit Scheme Operational Manual at the Atlantic Lumley Hotel in Freetown.
Officially opening the one – day consultation, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Edward Hinga Sandy described the event as one that actually shows that business is paramount, and a clear fulfilment of the President’s promise to broaden businesses in the country.
“Sierra Leone’s participation in Global business should not just be about taking part and being ranked but rather creating Jobs for business owners in the country”, Dr. Sandy said.
He emphasized on the urgent need to roll out more programs that will help finance or promote SME’s as the big businesses will only thrive when the smaller ones do so.
The Minister of Trade thanked the Ministry of Finance for their interests shown in making this scheme achievable, noting that government through the Ministry of Trade is working on a number of marketting opportunities which will all be for the benefit of Sierra Leoneans.
Dr. Sandy further encouraged all to be supportive, and patronize Small Medium Enterprises so that they would not only be producing but also exporting to other countries, adding that more money would be put into the scheme year after year based on its success.
In her address, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt commended the Ministry of Trade and SMEDA for such a move. “Such enterprise will enhance job creation for many Sierra Leoneans”, Dr. Pratt said.
The Tourism Minister expressed that as a country that has witnessed one of the highest number of tourists visitation this year, actions of such nature that promotes businesses will position the country in a better light as Tourism, Trade and investment remains bedfellows. She called on the parties involved in implementing the scheme to be fair always, while urging Small Medium Business owners to make use of the current opportunity.
Dr.Pratt furthermore encouraged all to stay safe always and adhere to the advice given by Health professionals so that Sierra Leone becomes a country free of Coronavirus. “Our country will soon become a destination for Tourists”.
Chairman Board of Directors SMEDA, Edward Kangaju, in his statement commended the government of President Julius Maada Bio for recognizing the importance of SME’s, thus being the only leader to have constituted a Board for the Agency since its establishment in 2017.
He said the Board comprises of 12 members, representing the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Private Sector, Arts and Craft, Manufacturers Association, Traders Union, Agro Processing Industries among others, adding that the Ministry of Finance allocated a total of Le100 billion to SMEDA, with an amount of Le 22 billion from the said amount for the national Micro Credit Scheme.
Chairman of the Ceremony, Charles Mereweather Thompson, who is the Chief Director, and professional head of the Ministry of Trade and Industry described the event as one that is key in ensuring the success and growth of Small and Medium Businesses in the country.
“This consultation is the final one held in the Western Area, after holding same consultations in the regions across the country wherein owners of Small Medium Enterprises were engaged on the Operational Manual of the Micro credit scheme”, Thompson said.
He concluded that such consultation is believed to mean that the end product of the Micro Credit Scheme Operational Manual will be in the interest of all businesses concerned.