Business support news – Post date: August 5th, 2020.

A very successful mango campaign for Mali

COLEACP’s Fit For Market SPS programme has been supporting National Plant Protection Organisations (NPPOs) in ACP the regions, and particularly West Africa, to comply with evolving phytosanitary measures. The new EU Directive on mango imports came into force in September 2019, and states that exporting countries must now apply an effective treatment to ensure fruit is free from Tephritidae (fruit flies) and provide evidence in a dossier before export. NPPOs are required to respond to these phytosanitary regulations by developing and submitting to the EU, prior to any mango export, a national action plan to limit the phytosanitary risk associated with the import of mangoes into the EU.

So from 2019 COLEACP’s has responded with numerous activities: the stakes were high as without a national response to the regulation, no mangoes from third countries in general, and from West Africa in particular, could be exported to the EU during the 2020 campaign. The socioeconomic impact of a halt to mango exports would have been extremely negative for the thousands of workers involved in the West African sector – mainly young and female – as well as for producers, since production relies on numerous orchards of limited size.

Sustained effort by all parties involved has paid off. A first success was the EU’s validation in March 2020 of the mango dossier presenting Mali’s systemic approach to reducing the presence of fruit flies on mangoes exported to the EU. And further success is now seen in the historically low number of interceptions of Malian mango consignments in Europe during the 2020 campaign: only one consignment was intercepted during this campaign, representing a remarkable improvement compared with previous years. COLEACP would like to congratulate all our partners in Mali for this successful outcome: the National Directorate of Agriculture, the NPPO, the Mango Value Chain Interprofessional Organization (Interprofession de la Filière Mangue du Mali, IFM-Mali), and the whole private sector, as well as experts and other programmes, including the Project d’appui à la compétitivité agro-industrielle au Mali (PACAM), who all contributed to this achievement.

Business Survival Bootcamps – followed up by individual coaching

COLEACP has been partnering with the African Management Institute (AMI) to create a Business Survival Bootcamp series aimed at supporting entrepreneurs in the horticultural sector across Africa. The bootcamp sessions addressed the unexpected challenges faced by businesses due to COVID-19. The series was designed to give chief executive officers and financial managers access to critical and practical tools that can be easily applied to their business to support their responses to the challenges brought by COVID-19. An interactive 2-hour webinar is followed by 2 months of access to COLEACP’s Business Survival Bootcamp private community on AMI’s platform (17 practical tools, two additional courses) and full access to all the tools and training materials available on COLEACP’s e-learning platform.

Six bootcamps have been conducted to date (two sessions in English, four in French). Overall, we had a good attendance rate, with 68% of the CEOS, financial managers and experts registered attending a session, for a total of 204 participants (28% women; 72% men). The bootcamp series had a broad reach, with participants registering from 30 countries around the world.

The Business Survival Bootcamps are an important milestone, but some companies wanted more in-depth support. COLEACP is currently supporting 16 companies through a series of individual e-coaching sessions covering cashflow management, cost management and human resources issues and challenges. These coaching sessions will pave the way to rebuild resilience in preparation for the recovery phase, by providing MSMEs and producer groups with decision-making support and guidance to enable them to take informed-choices in light of the challenges and issues they are facing.

Last but not least, COLEACP is currently finalising the development and review of business-oriented training materials (including but not limited to digital content and practical tools), covering Accounting and corporate finance, Business development and entrepreneurship, Marketing and communication, Corporate funding management, Human resources management, and Commercial and financial risk management. All the materials are expected to be finalised by the end of summer and rolled out during the last quarter of 2020.

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