Progress report: Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprises and promotion of business linkages between MNEs and local enterprises in Sierra Leone

Strengthening small and medium enterprises and creating supply linkages with foreign investors operating in the country are some of the key priorities of the government of Sierra Leone. This report highlights how simultaneous efforts of different units of the ILO Enterprises Department contributed to implement a number of activities following an enabling environment for sustainable enterprises (EESE) assessment, which identified the need to increase linkages between MNEs and the local economy.

The report aims to identify key factors and actors that came into play to ensure the effective implementation of ILO activities on the ground as well as main lessons learned from the ILO experience in Sierra Leone. The study has identified the following contributing factors: political will and institutional commitment; sensitisation workshops as a valuable tool to provide stakeholders with a comprehensive overview of ILO instruments, tools and services offer; tripartite plus collaboration and social dialogue; and simultaneous efforts from different ILO units.

Although the EESE programme as well as other ILO initiatives carried out in Sierra Leone made valuable contributions, a number of elements have been pointed out for consideration in case of future replication of similar approaches in other countries. Political changes as well as limited institutional capacity can slow down the process and hinder the implementation of some activities. In addition, sensitisation initiatives are important in order to make sure that national constituents are aware of the full spectrum of ILO instruments, tools and services available. Despite the importance of presenting ILO tools to stakeholders, it is crucial to stress how the ownership of the EESE assessment process can play a pivotal role. Finally, another factor to take into account is assessing the potential and the capacity of national constituents to ensure a follow-up to the work undertaken by the ILO.
A number of possible recommendations have been put forward to better understand how synergies among different tools offered by the ILO enterprises department could be used to provide a comprehensive approach to improve the enabling environment for sustainable business development.

First, communication between the different units and between ILO’s headquarters is a key factor to ensure the identification of opportunities for collaboration. Secondly, EESE findings provide solid evidence that could be used to mobilise financial resources and develop additional initiatives to follow-up on the assessment and improve the business environment in collaboration with relevant ILO units.