COTONOU, 11 April 2019 – A project implemented since 2015 by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with funds from the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF), has helped boost the competitiveness of Benin's small enterprises – which accounts for over 90 per cent of the industrial sector – by, among others, improving the productivity of enterprises and ensuring products’ compliance with national and international standards.
The project supported a total of 31 enterprises in three priority sectors with high-employment and export potential: agri-food – particularly pineapple, and shea and cashew nuts – fish farming and textiles. With intensive support from national consultants coached by international experts, the enterprises were assisted in the development and implementation of action plans to transform their activities and be more competitive on the regional and global markets.
"After three years implementation, we can say that the objectives of the project have been largely achieved,” said Serges Ahissou, Benin’s Minister of Industry and Trade, at the ceremony.
Ibrahim Olabode Amoussa, Director General of the fashion company, Olabode Fashion, a beneficiary of the project, said: “The project has enabled us to move from an artisanal stage to large-scale production. Thanks to the international experts and national consultants, we have the ability to produce like an Italian company. It is a dream that we had for a long time.”
“This advance presents many advantages for us and positively impacts our productions. We were producing five outfits a day before, but now we have gone to 150 outfits a day. It lowered the cost of production and it made us more competitive," Amoussa added.
Another project beneficiary, Fatima Sékou Madougou, head of the fish farming enterprise, Terroir des Délices, said: “With the project, we have learned to measure the rate of oxygenation of water. It helped us a lot because two years ago the death rate was over 60 per cent. But since we have been taught to pay attention to these details, our mortality rate is less than 15 per cent. The project allowed us to improve the profitability of our activities."
The project furthermore supported the establishment of a central unit for barcode management within the Beninese National Standardization Agency (AMN). The unit provides key information to consumers about the products and marks them as made in Benin for international recognition. A National Food Safety Policy was also developed and adopted to ensure products’ conformity with relevant standards.
Business-to-business trips were organized to Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Rwanda and Tunisia to promote the products of 17 Beninese companies and negotiate cooperation agreements. Three have already been signed to date.
UNIDO Programme Manager Bernard Bau said: “A key result of the project is without a doubt the capacity building of national consultants in the various technical areas concerned. Thirty-five of them are now able to independently assist enterprises with their specific modernization. This pool of experts is a true asset for the country’s future development.”
Throughout the project’s implementation, UNIDO and BRMN worked closely with national support structures and representatives of the Beninese private sector to develop support services to businesses,as well as ensure the sustainability of the achievements and their replication in different sectors.
For more information, please contact:
Industrial Development Officer
UNIDO Department of Trade, Investment and Innovation