Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industries, on Wednesday inaugurated a 10-member Steering Committee for the Rural Enterprises Programme, which aims to enhance the performance of micro-small and medium scale enterprises in rural communities and improve livelihoods.
She said the programme was designed as an upgrade to expand the Rural Enterprises Project, to be implemented in 160 districts across the country, to create jobs, stimulate local economic development and improve the living conditions of people in the rural areas.
“The overall goal of the Rural Enterprises Programme is to improve the livelihoods and incomes of rural poor, micro and small entrepreneurs. The development objective is to increase the number of rural micro and small scale enterprises that generate profit, growth and employment opportunities,” Ms Tetteh said.
The Government is collaborating with the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the African Development Bank to implement the programme.
Ms Tetteh said the programme, which had gone through two pilot projects phases, spanning 16 years, had shown much success in the establishment of small businesses, generating employment and increasing income in the 63 implementing districts.
As at September 2011, more than 106,000 project clients had been trained in community based skills training, small business management and marketing compared with a target of 70,000.
In addition, over 23,000 new businesses had been established as against a target of 21,000 in the phase two of the project.
Ms Tetteh underscored the medium to long term advantages of the programme, including reinforcement of the national development agenda for job creation and poverty reduction in rural areas by drawing idle resources, particularly labour, to productive ventures and value activities.
In so doing, she said, an increase in income of rural women would translate into greater family expenditures on education, health and good nutrition and would also contribute to enhance social standings within the communities.
Ms Tetteh called on members of the steering committee to ensure effective management of the programme because the membership structure had been designed to reflect decentralisation and the mainstreaming of the promotion of micro and small scale enterprises at all levels within the District Assembly System.
She said the national project coordinator and monitoring unit loca0ted in Kumasi, would continue to coordinate the implementation of activities of the programme across all the participating districts while the Ministry of Trade and Industry would assume responsibility for the overall implementation of the scheme.
Mr Nii Ansah-Adjaye, Chief Director, Ministry of Trade and Industry, and Chairman of the Steering Committee, said the group would be up to the task and help execute the project.