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Handicraft : Government promotes private initiative

The growth of small and medium size enterprises in Cameroon has led the government to reinvigorate the sector, paying special attention to handicraft in order to boost economic development.

In a bid to curb the rate of unemployment that has over the years caused disgruntlement, many have sought other means of earning their daily bread by engaging in countless income generating activities.

The economic history of Cameroon has not only set a pace for private initiatives to take the central stage but has fuelled the evolution of small and medium sized enterprises. The handicraft sector for instance has witnessed a boom as the number of those getting involved keeps rising with government assistance. A couple of programs to better follow up those in the sector have been set up one of them being the support program for the creation and development of small and medium size enterprises (PCAD/PME). Officially launched by Minister Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa in 2007, the program is now in its execution phase with main objective being that of promoting the transformation and conservation of local products for mass consumption. The program is channelling its funds to finance some 40 projects earmarked for this year. 10 of which were selected in 2008 and 30 others picked out during the recent piloting committee meeting. 60 new ideas have been studied pending funding in 2011. According to the minister of small and medium enterprises and handicraft, the fact that some 11 billion will be disbursed over the period of five years will go a long way to personally accompany local producers. A move which according to him, will of course create close to 10.000 direct and indirect employments. In a case like this, it should be noted that there is a partnership between the project owners and those who seek to promote it. As of now, some ten partnership conventions have been signed out of the 40 selected. This means that it is a win-win issue. There is therefore the need for those receiving funds to put in their best in order to reimburse what was given to them for others to be able to benefit too.
With the advent of the finance program, some 608 project ideas were presented with about 31.7% coming from women and 30% from youths. Apart from such support programs that finance the ideas of producers, it should be noted that small and medium size enterprises are equally financed by micro finance institutions. With government intervention, these finance bodies give out loans for short term development plans with little interest rates thus facilitating producers in acquiring funds for their projects. The PACD program is open to all and is a gate way for local producers to showcase their know-how. If all is respected as is the wish of the MINPMEESA boss and his partners, then Cameroon can boast of not only feeding its population sufficiently, but equally exporting to other countries that are not as blessed as it is. Work shops have been organised to enlighten people on how they could be in a better position to benefit from funds put at their disposal. All over the national territory, management centres are being opened in a bid to keep the link between those at the base with the authorities in order to ensure a positive feed back in conformity with the Head of State’s wish of using small and medium size enterprises and the private sector to revamp the economy.

Claudette chin

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