Invest Salone, working with Sierra Leone’s private sector on adapting to the new market circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, is also adjusting to a significantly less predictable economy and limited resources by shifting its short- to medium-term focus to more flexible and innovative private sector development support.
Productive dialogue between the private sector and the Government of Sierra Leone is essential to create a more enabling business environment, and our work in this area includes supporting the National Revenue Authority on investment climate reforms. In addition, we are supporting businesses to strengthen domestic supply chains and re-orientate the way that they work with smallholder producers. The businesses that we are supporting have provided advice, inputs and a stable regular market to 3,500 producers for their agricultural produce across maize, cocoa, orange, mango and pineapple value chains.
We are also linking the impact investing community with Sierra Leonean businesses to discuss investment approaches, challenges and opportunities through regular roundtable discussions between Sierra Leone’s private sector and development finance institutions.
As part of the process, we have made difficult and disappointing decisions on other aspects of our programme, including the COMPETE Salone and COVID-19 funding window – a grant opportunity launched last year for Sierra Leonean companies with innovative projects.
An independent investment panel was able to select four impressive projects from last year’s COMPETE Salone applicants; however, in view of the unpredictable worldwide economic situation and its impact on our own resources, we have regrettably scaled down to two projects. Our move towards providing more flexible support for innovative companies responding to emerging opportunities will include technical assistance and investor incentivisation. Through these channels, we welcome the opportunity to maintain our engagement with the businesses who participated in the COMPETE Salone process.