CENSODEV is convinced of the necessity to follow new paths when looking at business opportunities for SMEs and the production existing groups. Just to enter into already satisfied markets and areas will not open up for lasting solutions for a new generation of SMEs. Rather a situation of an enhanced competition with already existing businesses would be created, whereby both, the existing businesses and the newcomers will be losers. Therefore CENSODEV is investigating into new market chances, whereby specific niches need to be considered, regional specifics and knowledge, competition with goods imported into the region, traditions and heritage.
The following shall just line out this new approach, we are convinced this needs to be an ongoing exercise and learning process of all involved:
1. Heritage ‐ traditional knowledge and production processes
a. Production of baskets,
Basket produced only in the northern parts of Ghana, are valued and used/bought in the whole country. Originally produced with wildly grown straw the material changed to plastic (waste plastic sacs) being cheaper than produced in the inherited way and also due to diminishing availability of specific straw. In this context there is a possible niche in this market, drawing back on the inherited way of producing. This would require agricultural production of straw, investigating in original designs and inherited techniques. The possible target group for this high quality production will be better off customers in towns and centers nationwide and the increasing number of tourists. These customers can be seen, having the financial potential and valuing the tradition/heritage.
b. Production of chaka‐bags
Chaka‐bags, having been very common in former times are produced out of fiber of the Kenef plant (vegetable plant, leaves used for soup). Chaka‐bags can be reinvented and tested in the market, mentioned under a. There is need to first investigate on the ratio of the production/selling price and the acceptance of the local and national market.
c. Decorations, Bolga hats
Produced with the same material and similar techniques this products are used widely and the market seems not be saturated. There is even the chance to reach a different buyer‐group, with a product being higher prized but also with a higher quality.
d. Leather production
Leather production is also a craft using inherited techniques. Older and inherited designs but also upgraded modern designs can be tested with the target groups for this high quality production. Target groups will be the better off customers in towns and centers nationwide and the increasing number of tourists. Depending on the production/selling price and the acceptance local markets could also be tested.
e. Production of farming tools
Blacksmith craft entails an inherited specific knowledge in the production of farming tools. Solid and functional tools are/have always been fabricated locally. Imported alternatives are pressing into this market. An analysis would be worthwhile to determine and test chances for local production. Only a portion of the raw material would need to be imported thus most of the buying power will remain in the region and employment will be created.
f. Carving products
Carving is an inherited craft with specific techniques. Going into the usual market (animals, masks etc.) seems not being viable. But testing production and market for traditional flutes could open up new possibilities. At the same time carvers could look into alternatives for day‐to‐day good e.g. wooden pencils etc. as old techniques would also suit this production.
g. Craft with beads – local production of Zwenno Zwenno is a traditional jewelry widely used by women. The market seems not to be saturated. Raw materials and techniques are known and available. New design, oriented at the inherited zwenno, might be welcome by the market. Testing would not be costly and could be organized.
h. Design and dress‐making
Smock is a traditional dress for men and women is. Designs vary in the different regions. Also the Navrongo region has its specific traditional design. This production could open up a niche‐market, drawing back on inherited designs but also trying out new design pattern, colors, materials etc.
i. Drum production
Building of drums is a nearly lost technique. Reinventing and testing the market seems interesting. Future customers might vary from interested youth with affinity to heritage and traditional music to tourists. It will be necessary to find (older) people still knowing the techniques of production and playing the drums.
2. Processing local materials
a. Liquid soap (look for name in local language) Liquid soap is widely used in the local market and imported into the region. The technique is already known to produce liquid soap on the basis of shea butter. Further testing (color, smell, consistence, durability) would be necessary and investigations needs to be done into packaging of the product. One possibility to try out might be recycling water bottles and upgrade to functional form for the product. This would at the same time be a contribution to safeguard environment.
b. Shea butter (look for name in local language) Groups in contact with CENSODEV produce high standard quality of shea butter. Their problem is marketing and receiving a fair price for the product. Investigations need to be done into different lines of products (e.g. hairdressers would use if a better smell could be reached, taste for human consumption, specifics to be considered for cosmetics), attractive and appropriate packaging in sellable quantities and according to the needs of different customers.
3. Processing Food
a. Processing mango
Mangos are seasonal and not all production can be sold in the harvesting time. In order to avoid harvested fruits going bad and not being used for human consumption an alternative is processing mangos. Most suitable seems to dry slices of mangos and to market in small quantities. First option should be the local market in the region and probably as the next step the national market.
b. Processing tomatoes (a brand name is important‐ best local language) Tomato are seasonal products and not all production can be sold during the harvesting time. In order to avoid harvested tomatoes going bad and not being used for human consumption an alternative is processing tomatoes to puree and can it for preservation. Interesting markets can be boarding schools, public kitchen and restaurants and the private market.
c. Dawa dawa (“Ghana maggi”!)
It is a very healthy product used for cooking. Presently it is produced as balls in a very rough consistency. The product is not durable and has little attraction in its presentation. It should be investigated into possibilities of grinding the seeds, treat for durability and different consistence e.g. liquid, as powder and as preformed cubes. Dawa dawa is a perfect marketing name and has the capacity to replace imported “maggi” on the national market.
4. New inventions to safeguard environment
a. Clean cooking stoves (e.g. Gyapa‐style cooking stove) Clean cooking stoves are already produced in Ghana. Therefore possibilities need to be sought for either the ready product to be “imported” into region and marketed and/or locally produced. Local production will depend on how technically difficult the production process will be and if patents/licenses are to be considered.
b. Briquettes (“Bulu Mim – the magic fire”) The production of briquettes out of agricultural waste, saw/charcoal dust can substitute firewood and charcoal as burning material. This could have a tremendous effect for the environment. Before being fit for the market the technical aspects for production need to be investigated as well as availability / production of machinery and tools. Nevertheless this could open up for business opportunities in different geographical areas and along the production line (machinery and tools, briquettes, outlet/sales promotion). Both, production and marketing could fit new entrepreneurs once techniques are tested out.
a. Eco tourism
In future more tourists not only come to the south but also want to see the north of Ghana. Ghana since 20 year is favoring Eco‐Tourism. Clients are not only looking for the usual tour offers but are interested in heritage, nature, traditional way of living and experience it, have interest for traditional music and its instruments. CENSODEV will investigate into possibilities to involve the different groups they have contacts with through the other programs to especially utilize their abilities in conservation of heritage for having shared with interested foreigners. By this approach additional income for the women groups/individuals and other craftsmen can be reached.
b. Marketing platform
Marketing products to a fair price is a problem of most SME and production groups within CENSODEVs outreach. This is seen as a key factor for further development of SME and fair income for entrepreneurs and groups. It is envisaged to develop an internet platform and to open up chances through a professional contact to shops in the wider local area and nationwide, the presence at exhibitions and through appropriate and attractive packaging and product design.
CENSODEV will test new business ideas and will develop and test the product for being fit for the market. CENSODEV will have the “inventive rights”/patent and will bring it into joint ventures with interested entrepreneurs. CENSODEV will be hareholder with a defined percentage and have specific management rights within the joint venture to be able to assist and influence on strategy and success. The different aspects shall be clearly stipulated in a legal contract.
With this approach CENSODEV meets its goals and visions and at the same time guarantees income to run social projects and enhances possibilities for employment.