Mr Alberto Portugal-Peres is an economist at the International Trade Unit-DECRG at the World Bank. He presents recent figures on the impact of the financial crisis on the world trade, which show a serious drop in ACP exports growth. He also gives us a view on the decline in FDI inflows to ACP countries mostly due to reduced profit margins, financing conditions and volatile commodity prices in the agricultural sector. He agrees on the fact that SMEs represent key actors for economic recovery and recognizes access to financing as a major challenge for SMEs in ACP countries. He identifies different policies to support SMEs (firm-specific policies, business climate policies) and their access to foreign markets and increase exports value for existing exporters.
Mr Vincenzo Galastro currently works as Programme Manager in the External affairs department of the International Fund for Agriculture (IFAD) based in Rome, Italy. He presents a new funding opportunity – The African Agriculture Fund (AAF) – which is the result of the collaboration among several development actors (Agence Française de développement (AFD); African Development Bank (ADB); Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Banque Ouest Africaine de Développement (BOAD), the “Promoters”). The aim of this fund is to improve the access to private investment funding for agricultural SMEs and in the same time to offer technical assistance to small-scale farmers in ACP countries.
Interview of Mr Galastro
H.E. Stephen Fletcher is the Ambassador of Grenada to the EU and Belgium. The ambassador considers this Briefing as coming at a suitable moment, a time when the international community and particularly the developing countries are confronted to three main issues (the financial crisis, the global energy crisis and the food crisis). Therefore, he underscores the multiple and crucial role the SMEs are playing in finding solutions to these crisis as they represent on the one hand an integral part of the economic development in ACP countries and on the other hand a major source of employment, foreign exchange earnings, innovation and technologies. He sees this Briefing as the perfect opportunity for SMEs practitioners and policy makers to share their experiences and develop policies that will further assist SMEs to upgrade. Mr. Denis Noel is the entrepreneur from Grenada that HE is pointing out as success story as he managed to overcome all challenges regarding the access to the international market.
Mr Denis Noel is the Managing Director of Noelville Ltd. a family owned Company in Grenada. He considers the Briefing a good opportunity to share his experiences of growing medicinal plants. The aim of his company was to try to avoid the situation when developing countries exported raw materials, as coco and nutmegs, and imported finished products at a higher price. He presents a new use of the nutmeg, traditionally known as a food item, which his company is using to produce pain killers. He points out the success of his products in countries like Russia, Australia etc. and calls for assistance in his efforts to get access to the EU market.
Ms Juliette Newell is currently the owner and Managing Director of Tijule Company in Jamaica. She was particularly interested in the Briefing and in finding out more about the special funding opportunities that companies in developing countries could receive in order to get closer to the standards required by the developed world.
Ms Armelle de Saint Sauveur is the scientific manager of «Réseau Moringa et Plantes Ressources, Moringanews ». She was particularly interested by the Briefing for its focus and debates on the potential of regional and national markets. Working on the local plants, which have an important economic potential in ACP countries, she highlights the central importance of upgrading these products in order to make them competitive with imported products in the ACP countries. Ms de Saint Sauveur underlines as well the role of vegetable-leaves (manioc, moringa etc.), the plants which her society is working on, that represent a real source of income for the farmers and in the same time for the SMEs. The (competitive) advantage comes from the fact that these products are not expensive to produce and to process. Her society is benefiting from the support of the CDE in its efforts to standardize these products in order to integrate them into the formal market and into the processing food chains. The aim of these endeavors is to promote the local products.
(Interview in French)