ILO supports Sierra Leone to improve access to financial and non-financial services

Policy-makers, business and finance experts and entrepreneurs discuss strategies for supporting Sierra Leone’s small and medium enterprises.

Press release | Abuja | 12 July 2017
ABUJA (ILO News):  The ILO with the support from the International Training Centre of the ILO and the Government of Sierra Leone, organized a training workshop on “Improving access to financial and non-financial services for MSMEs” in Freetown from 03 to 06 July. More than 70 policy-makers, business and finance experts and entrepreneurs from across the country attended the event. Guided by an action-oriented learning approach, the participants explored the ILO’s MSME tools and discussed their relevance and applicability in Sierra Leone. Topics such as Entrepreneurship training programmes, Financial Education, Local Content Development, Business Continuity Management and the operationalization of the Sierra Leonean SME Development Agency featured prominently during the discussion.

During the training workshop, preliminary findings of an assessment of financial and non-financial services were presented that highlighted the provision made to MSMEs that the ILO undertook in Freetown, Bo, Port Loko and Kenema.

Dennis Zulu, Director of the ILO Country Office for Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone remarked, “MSMEs constitute the bulk of private sector activity in Sierra Leone and are a key source of household income. Yet, according to our findings, access to finance and non-financial services remains a major constraint to the growth of MSMEs in Sierra Leone; as many as 80% of all business owners who applied for loans were rejected by local finance institutions.” Mr. Zulu stated, “There is a clear need to improve access to finance across the country, especially in rural areas” and that “the ILO will work in partnership with the Government to enhance the capacities of financial service and BDS providers”.

The honourable Minister of Finance and Economic Development Mr. Kargbo commended the ILO for its efforts to promote MSME development in Sierra Leone and welcomed the ILO’s continued technical support to the country. A lot of work remains to be done, especially in the area of market systems development to create more value through foreign direct investment and to better connect Sierra Leonean businesses to national and global value chains. A crucial step towards achieving greater value chain integration is to improve the competiveness of the MSME sector - “Only then will Sierra Leonean businesses be able to seize local sourcing options” said Mr. Konjoh, Director of the Local Content Agency. Based upon the discussions and input received at the training workshop, the ILO will now assess additional capacity building needs in the country said Mr. Zulu. “The aim is to provide more specialized and tailor-made training opportunities for entrepreneurs and service providers in the near-by future.”

The training workshop marked also the launch of the ILO’s “Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises Assessment” (EESE). As part of its efforts to support private sector development in Sierra Leone, the ILO will identify together with local stakeholders the necessary economic, social and political framework in which sustainable enterprises can innovate, grow and create more and better jobs. Preliminary results of the EESE assessment will be presented to the government and publicly disseminated in early 2018.