“Bra be da”, Waste for Cash and Outgrower Schemes
Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) are the backbone of developing economies—providing over 60% of permanent full-time employment for citizens. In Ghana, MSMEs contribute as much as 70% of GDP and 85% of the manufacturing sector employment, and such impacts could be higher if we explored non-traditional ways of expanding eco-inclusive businesses—enterprises that integrate social environmental and economic goals into their business models.
SEED has been doing that, spreading one such non-traditional approach to increasing impacts—replication: copying and adapting proven business models to different geographical locations.
Over the last two years, we have been preoccupied with the idea of Replication and at our West Africa Symposium in Accra on 20th July, we further discussed replicable business approaches and their potential to multiply impacts and contribute significantly to sustainable development in Ghana and West Africa. In an interactive “Fishbowl” Session hosted in partnership with the British Council, we brought together different actors in the eco-inclusive space in Ghana, entrepreneurs such as Gloria Asare of Global Bamboo Products Ltd, Sulley Amin Abubakar of Zaacoal, Kofi S. Ampomah of AfriJourneys (formerly Adventure Junkies), Salma Abdulai of Unique Quality Product Enterprise, Vivian Ahiayibor of City Waste Recycling Company Limited and Madam Adiza L. Yakubu of Shea butter Economic Empowerment Programme (SEEP) to share their thoughts and insights on replication.
Specifically, these entrepreneurs and other players including Sydney Tetteh-Hushie, a business development consultant at the British Council, discussed current challenges, business opportunities, and some replicable business models in the waste management, agro-processing and the tourism sectors in Ghana.
There were concrete replicable approaches that got widespread acceptance from participants. In the Tourism sector, for instance, replicable approaches such as home and room sharing was particularly identified to have great potential in Ghana and West Africa. Kofi Ampomah of Afrijourneys shared that adapting the Airbnb model (and calling it “Bra be da”) in Ghana’s touristic sites could significantly help reduce the high cost of accommodation which hinders travel, especially among Ghanaians.
In the Waste sector, models such as franchising and subcontracting buy-back centres came out promising for most participants. Through these approaches, many agreed that waste volumes could be tremendously increased. Participants also noted that this will particularly be possible due to the low cost of investment and skill set needed in setting up buy-back centres, where collectors can bring waste for cash.
In Agro-processing and Manufacturing, many sector players agreed with Gloria Asare that outgrower schemes may provide a viable replicable path that can multiply impacts in the sector.
Indeed, the idea of replication is not free from controversy and participant did not shy away from asking hard questions: which ideas travel universally and which ones need to be contextualized to local conditions; who finances replication; and should idea originators be compensated to make replication attractive? Such questions kept coming back.
Nonetheless, many participants agreed with Gloria Asare that in spite of many such unanswered questions, “Entrepreneurs and new ventures that are operating and addressing challenges in the green space should look around, ask what the problems are and look at how they can turn them into opportunities. This step of initiative on replication will boost innovation, development, private sector and economy in Ghana and Africa".