By Lansana Fofanah.
The International Labor Organization (ILO) together with the Government of Sierra Leone on Friday the 5th April 2019 launched the Enabling Environment for Sustainable Enterprise (EESE) at Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko Hotel, Aberdeen, Freetown.
The report which was supported by ILO was as a result of government request to support the assessment of the state of the business environment affecting the growth of small businesses in Sierra Leone by government and other social partners.
Speaking at the ceremony, the ILO Country Director, Dennis Zulu said that the assessment was done between 2017 and 2019 by the National Tripartite EESE Task Team which captured the perception of 497 enterprises (mainly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and interviews conducted with workers in Western Area, Bo, Bombali, Kenema and Kono District.
He said that the report focuses on how the political, economic, social and environmental environment affects enterprise operations and highlighted how such findings could lead to sustainable businesses in the country. “The ILO will also support the operationalization of the small and medium enterprise Development Agency (SMEDA) as created by the GoSL as a coordination body to provide leadership and oversight for the development of the MSME sector. The SMEDA aims to provide guidance and ensure coordination and synergies amongst actors in the sector”, he said.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Peter Bayuku Konteh said that the Ministry of Trade and Industry and its affiliate agencies have been in due consultation since 2017 for the development of the EESE Report.
He said that the report focuses on issues and address the challenges that underpin the growth and development of the private sector as well as meet the existing need in the country to implement policies and strengthen national development.
The Minister said that promoting local content concept and plan to ensure quality and compliance of products and services with market requirements and standards are key priorities of the New Direction in order to create a win-win situation.
The report highlights amongst others that despite several measures put in place by the Government to support enterprise development and promote financial inclusion, there is a lack of institutional coordination and compliance with rules, and that implementation capacities are weak, access to finance (in particular for businesses in agriculture sector) and poor infrastructure (mainly electricity and road quality) as their main challenges.
The Director General of the Sierra Leone Local Content Agency, Fodeba Daboh said that the report speaks directly to issues affecting the growth of small businesses in the country.
He said that the Agency is always looking forward for every opportunity that leads to sustainability of indigenous business owners and the creation of a friendly investment environment.