The USAID West Africa Trade & Investment Hub (Trade Hub) hosted a knowledge-sharing and learning event themed, “Food Security & Trade: Driving Impact” on Wednesday, February 28, 2024, at the Kempinski Hotel in Accra, Ghana. The event convened over 60 in-person attendees, including USAID and Trade Hub representatives, the Trade Hub’s co-investment partners in Ghana, private sector investors, and government entities dedicated to advancing private sector growth and entrepreneurship. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance, Parliament of Ghana, National Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Coordination Office, Ghana Investment Promotion Center, and Ghana Export Promotion Authority were among those present.

The Trade Hub’s co-investment partners represented at the event included: 8 Degrees North, Amaati Company Limited, Black Buffalo International, Burt’s Bees, DTRT Apparel, Ethical Apparel Africa, FreezeLink, Global Mamas, Injaro Investments, Nuts for Growth, The Savannah Fruits Company, ShEquity, and Warc Africa.

The connections and conversations included stakeholders representing government entities, including her Honorable Dzifa Gomashie, Member of the Parliament of Ghana – Ketu South Constituency, pictured here conversing with the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party, Mr. Robin Wheeler, and Erin Moran (Creative Associates International).

Facilitated by Tia Swain, Trade Hub Communication Specialist, the hybrid event put a spotlight on the collaborative efforts of the Trade Hub and its co-investment partners in Ghana, along with USAID’s endeavors in promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth in Ghana and West Africa.

In his Welcome Remarks, the Trade Hub’s Chief of Party, Mr. Robin Wheeler shared the Trade Hub’s overall results from the region and emphasized “While the numbers are impressive and tell an important story, we will also celebrate the tangible illustrations of improved livelihoods and empowered communities across Ghana. As I stand before you, I am filled with excitement and am looking forward to learning more about the collaboration and innovation that have led to sustainable transformation… As this model plays out throughout West Africa, it will continue to address key productivity and profitability constraints in priority value chains, improve private-sector competitiveness, and contribute to broad-based and inclusive economic growth and resilience in the region, while also transforming the lives of countless people for the better.”

The Learning Event’s opening program included inspiring messages that jumpstarted the learning and prepared participants for the time of further collaboration to continue building on the work of the Trade Hub and its co-investment partners. Pictured left to right: Mr. Andrew Read, Director of USAID/Ghana’s Economic Growth Division; Mr. Robin Wheeler, Chief of Party for the Trade Hub; and Mr. Jacob Gyamfi-Aidoo, Senior Advisor Stakeholder Engagement and Capacity Building with the National AfCFTA Coordination Office.  

A highlight of the event, the product and photo  exhibition—curated by the Trade Hub’s Communication Team and organized by Akua Mensah (Trade Hub Communication Specialist)—gave attendees both visual and palpable representations of the tangible results of the Trade Hub in Ghana and throughout the region.

As the event focused on the Trade Hub’s impact in Ghana, Wheeler shared impressive results that highlighted the success of private sector investment in sectors including agriculture, apparel, and light manufacturing. Along with the results depicted in the accompanying graphic, through these locally driven co-investment projects, the Trade Hub and its partners have generated $17.9 million in sales and generated $96.1 million in exports, including $87.5 million to the United States, mainly through AGOA, while $8.6 million has gone to other international and regional markets.

Together, the USAID Trade Hub and its co-investment partners have created 20,647 jobs in Ghana, with approximately 17,500 being held by women and over 8,000 by youth. In terms of overall participation, of the 82,685 individuals engaged in the co-investment projects throughout the country, 54,784 are women.

The Trade Hub is funded by the United States Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), to improve private sector productivity, profitability, and competitiveness in West Africa. “This type of partnership, which helps local companies succeed, is exactly the type of long-term economic development Ghana and West Africa needs,” Andrew Read, Director of USAID/Ghana’s Economic Growth Division, shared in his opening remarks.

Read continued, “Our joint investments in some of the largest fonio and shea-crushing factories in West Africa, as well as state-of-the-art garment factories, position Ghana as a key exporting hub, further solidifying the country’s role in the global value chain.”

Read’s comments were an excellent precursor to the day’s first panel, Strengthening Food Nutrition & Security in Northern Ghana. Moderated by Rahaman (Raz) Abdul-Salam (Trade Hub MEL Specialist), the panel allowed partners Amaati, Nuts for Growth, and Warc to share the unique practices and innovations that have improved their supply chains (fonio, shea/soy, and maize, respectively), increased smallholders productivity and profits, and transformed lives. Partners also discussed their achievements and strategies in the implementation of their co-investment projects despite complex challenges such as global inflation, supply chain disruptions, and the economic effects of COVID-19.

The other panels and panelists shared parallel learnings and insights from their respective sectors: Inclusive Export-Driven Agro-Development moderated by Charles Polet (Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Manager, Trade Hub) and featuring The Savannah Fruits Company (shea), 8 Degrees North (palm oil); ShEquity (business financing); and Accelerating Apparel Hub & Creativity Development in Ghana moderated by the Trade Hub’s Communication Manager, Ms. Blessing Lass, and featuring co-investment partners DTRT, Ethical Apparel Africa, Global Mamas, and Black Buffalo International/Ayéya.

Key contributors to the event’s planning and success were Blessing Lass (Trade Hub Communication Manager based in Abuja, Nigeria) who, along with Rahaman “Raz” Abdul-Salam (Trade Hub MEL Specialist) moderated a panel during the event, and Akua Mensah, Trade Hub Communication Specialist based in Accra, Ghana.

During an inspiring goodwill message that highlighted the areas of synergy between AfCFTA and the Trade Hub, Mr. Jacob Gyamfi-Aidoo (Senior Advisor, Stakeholder Engagement and Capacity Building with the National AfCFTA Coordination Office) reflected on the importance of such a learning event and the critical nature of the focus on food security. “Addressing malnutrition and hunger are not just humanitarian efforts, it is an investment in international peace and security, safeguarding [the] wellbeing of nations…AfCFTA seeks to promote intra-African trade, fostering an integrated interconnected market by dismantling trade barriers and encouraging collaboration among African nations. This, we hope, to facilitate a more efficient and dynamic exchange of agricultural growth, contributing to diversified food sources and a more resilient food system.”

Mr. Gyamfi-Aidoo continued, “The National AfCFTA Coordination Office offers its commitment to collaborate with the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub to work towards ensuring food security in the region. We together hope that we will forge a path towards a more secure, prosperous, and interconnected future for Africa.”

In closing remarks, Kevin McGlothlin, USAID/West Africa’s Director of the Regional Economic Growth Office emphasized the importance of public private partnership for continued growth, as well as the adaptability and resilience of business leaders.

Extending words of gratitude to all participants, the Trade Hub credited the success of the Learning Event to the invaluable participation and contributions of the attendees and entreated their continued commitment to further collaboration and impactful partnership in the journey of driving positive change in Ghana and the region at large.