Minister of Finance signs 12 Million Euro Financing Agreement with the European Union to support Micro Small And Medium Enterprises

In a bid to strengthen and capacitate the Small and Medium Enterprises in Sierra Leones, the Minister of Finance, Sheku Ahmed Fantamadi Bangura, on behalf of the Government of Sierra Leone, on Tuesday, 20th March 2024, signed a grant financing agreement of 12 million Euro with the European Union to support and improve the Small and Medium Enterprises under the Business Environment and Competitiveness project.

In the signing program held at the Ministry of Finance, the Financial Secretary, Matthew Dingie, stated that the 12 million euro provided by the European Union is to support the Small and Medium Enterprises in Sierra Leone by improving, strengthening, and capacitating these enterprises so that they would be able to grow and produce quality products that will be able to compete in regional and international markets.

He mentioned that the project would also support institutions like the Standards Bureau and the Producing Marketing Board that work with these small businesses to meet the standards and improve the overall business environment.

The Financial Secretary continued that the project would support business reforms which would cover Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and even international investors that would ensure a predictable environment to operate on areas of tax laws, business registration processes to be simplified so that businesses would be quickly registered and able to operate in Sierra Leone.

The Ambassador for the European Union, Manuel Muller, said the signing of the Business Environment and Competitiveness for Salone BECS Project marks a significant milestone in the relationship between Sierra Leone and the European Union.

He further explained that the project would strengthen the competitiveness of Local Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and recognise that a skilled workforce is essential for driving innovation and increasing productivity to access quality and non-financial Business Development Services and strengthen the capacity of SMEs and entrepreneurs to scale up businesses.

Mr Muller also mentioned that the European Union would continue to support the effort to promote clear and transparent rules for investors, respect compliance with international contracts and agreements, reduce red tape, have a predictable tax system, enhance the rule of law and fight against corruption.

The ambassador concludes that domestic and international investment is needed to fully implement the Big Five game-changer agenda of the government and implement the Medium-Term National Development Plan through a focus on the private sector.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Alpha Ibrahim Sesay, said the private sector is seriously challenged, and the only way to change the narrative is to help strengthen its operations through a project like this, as the MSEs account for 95.8% of businesses, 84.5% of employment and 70% of our GDP.

Minister Sesay added that most of those involved in these SMEs operate in lower sectors where the value chain of these products cannot bring the finished product to compete in the world market.

He stated that the project will address challenges like lack of technical expertise to access the funds provided through donor partners, standards, compliance, conformity and meeting minimum requirements for regional and international markets.

Mr. Sesay stated that the components of the project are to strengthen the competitiveness of local SMEs, enhance the effectiveness of national quality systems, and improve the business environment.

The Minister of Finance, Sheku Fantamadi Bangura, appreciated the European Union and acknowledged that the EU is an economic partner with a relationship of over 60 years by stating that this project would deepen the relationship between the European Union and Sierra Leone.

Mr Bangura furthered that he’s pleased with the intervention of the EU as it would help to create jobs in line with the flagship programme of the government.

He assured the EU of the complete and rightful implementation of the project.
Minister Bangura also informed his audience that the 12 million Euro support is a grant and will significantly impact the beneficiary sector by addressing critical challenges that will improve the business environment, regulations, quality assurance, and competitiveness in the market.

He ended by commending his colleague minister from the Ministry of Trade and Industry for collaborating with the EU to have projects that he believes will provide much-needed jobs and improve the country’s exporting capabilities with quality products from Sierra Leone.

©MOF Communications