The Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM) has held a day forum with industry players to streamline activities of handicraft producers to increase export and the sector’s contribution to national income.
The forum, held in Accra on Tuesday, brought together exporters and local producers of handicrafts, including woodworks (furniture, sculpture, and drums), ceramics, garments and textiles, to bring out the challenges in the sector.
It also afforded participants the opportunity to discuss ways of addressing the challenges such as funding, regulatory framework and increased access to emerging markets. The Bank also introduced to handicraft producers and exporters, financing options that could support the sustenance and growth of their businesses while contributing to national income and development.
Currently, the sector contributes 1.35 per cent to non-traditional export earnings in Ghana, valued at $45.2 million as of 2021, while globally, it is estimated that the potential of the handicraft sector is $752 billion.
Speaking at forum, Mr. Lawrence Agyinsam, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Exim Bank, said: “We’re poised to help the handicraft subsector to increase its contribution to non-traditional exports in Ghana from less than two per cent to 10 per cent in 2029.”
This would be done through support by the Bank’s Export Trade and Guarantee Departments by giving them the needed finance, capacity building, and international business exposure to streamline their operations.
“The Ghana Export-Import Bank will continue to provide financial support to SMEs in the handicraft subsector to purchase raw materials and modern equipment to produce products that will meet international standards,” he said.
The Bank, he said, had supported the sector with GH¢307 million since 2017 in addition to GH¢46 million in guarantees to businesses relating to wood products, bamboo processing, leather products, textile and garments and creative arts.
Mr. Michael Okyere Baafi, Deputy Minister, Trade and Industry, lauded the Bank for the initiative to help address the challenges of the handicraft sector and increase export.
He encouraged the Bank not to relent on efforts to support the sector and urged artisans to position themselves well to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Minister urged them to streamline their operations by ensuring that they formalise their business and have good book keeping and the right administrative structures to be able to have access to money from financial institutions.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Madam Fulera Seidu, Acting President, National Association of Handicrafts Exporters, described the meeting as “fruitful and inspiring.”
“Funds have become difficult to access, so, for the Exim Bank to have such an engaging forum, it’s brought a lot of hope to the handicraft people, because there are a number of incentives for us. It’s not just about the money, it’s also about capacity building, which we lack, “she said.
“We’re looking forward to every intervention that Exim Bank will offer us and we’re ready to learn and improve our works to meet international standards and contribute to national income,” Madam Seidu said.
By Francis Ntow