ILO’s Opportunity Salone signs contracts with Business Incubators to boost enterprises

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The Country Director of ILO Madam Vanessa Phala signing the contract

By Ibrahim Kabba Turay

On Friday, June 28, 2024, the International Labour Organization (ILO) through its Opportunity Salone Project signed contracts with three business incubators—Aurora Foundation, Innovation Sierra Leone, and Muzambiriya S/L Venture Building Studio—at the Atlantic Hotel, Lumley Beach Road in Freetown.

The signing ceremony, witnessed by key stakeholders and project partners, marked a significant step in the project supported by the European Union (EU), which aims to strengthen value chains and road infrastructure to enhance market access and livelihoods in Bo, Bombali, Kenema, and Port Loko.

Country Director of ILO, Madam Vanessa Phala PhD, highlighted the project’s goal of supporting 30 businesses, with each incubator assisting 10 enterprises to improve their operations and services. “This is a very important ceremony for the International Labour Organization. We are at the middle of the implementation of the Opportunity Salone project. This project focuses on job creation and supporting small and medium enterprises in four districts in Sierra Leone,” she stated.

The project targets the vegetable, cassava, and palm oil value chains, with incubators providing specific support to businesses in those sectors.

Madam Phala emphasized the project’s alignment with the President’s vision and goals for job creation, particularly for women, young people, and persons with disabilities.

EU Project Manager, Mouice Sontelar, expressed the EU’s commitment to supporting sustainable development in Sierra Leone, noting that agriculture is a key priority. She praised the role of incubators in fostering a vibrant business ecosystem and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Thomas Momoh Bockarie, Director of Operations at the Local Content Agency, one of the project partners, explained the agency’s mandate to promote local content and support small businesses. The agency selected 32 businesses from hundreds of applications to pilot cassava and palm kernel processing.

Ahmed Nanoh, Executive Director of SLeCAD, another partner, highlighted the project’s importance in addressing the supply-demand gap in Sierra Leone’s poultry sector. His organization also selected top businesses to participate in the project.

Claire Kpaka, Country Officer Manager of Aurora Foundation, expressed enthusiasm for being part of the Opportunity Salone Project. She emphasized Aurora’s commitment to providing personalized training in business development, marketing, leadership, and management to the participating businesses.

The incubators have a year to work with the 30 selected businesses, providing the necessary support to enhance their operations and contribute to sustainable development in Sierra Leone.

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