The Ministry of Inner City and Zongo Development (MICZD) has started a partnership with the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) to provide loans for 419 beneficiaries of the Zongo Cuisine Promotion Programme.
The Zongo Cuisine programme is an initiative of the ministry, which was started last year, to help people, particularly women engaged in the preparation and sale of cuisines enjoyed in the Zongo communities, to improve upon their livelihoods by building their capacities to international standards, especially in the areas of preparation, packaging, preservation, storage, branding and access to international market opportunities.
The programme will also ensure that old-aged cuisines of the Zongo communities such as Fula, Hausa koko, Koose, Maasa and Waakye that have over the years become a delicacy in the country can be neatly and nicely packaged to be picked on the shelves.
The beneficiaries were taken through short courses in entrepreneurship and business management such as financial literacy and book keeping; food safety and quality management; branding and packaging; occupational health safety; international standards; food preservation, marketing and presentation skills.
The training was organised by the ministry and facilitated by the National Board for Small-scale Industries (NBSSI), as part of the implementation of the programme.
At a media soirée organised by the ministry in Accra on Tuesday night, the sector minister, Dr Mustapha Abdul-Hamid, stated that already, they had rolled out a monitoring exercise to inspect the traders to check if they were utilising the skills they had acquired.
“After this exercise, some women out of the total number will be selected to be given loans to help them expand their business. This is part of our initiative to help reduce poverty in the zongo areas and the inner cities,” Dr Abdul-Hamid stated.
He mentioned that the ministry was also taking a step to embark on other development projects within some Zongo communities across the country, adding that the projects would include rehabilitation of some dilapidated schools, construction of roads and health centres, provision of potable drinking water and other projects, adding that procurement had already commenced and contracts would be awarded soon.
Dr Abdul-Hamid indicated that one of the flagship programmes under the ministry was the construction of recreation centers across all zongo communities to help promote peace in those areas, stating that already they had constructed five Astro turf parks and four natural grass fields within some selected communities.
“Zongo communities are the most heterogeneous communities in the country, there is a mixture of so many ethnic groups and hence there are high tendencies of conflict. We have to develop such centres to promote sporting activities, and that is one of the surest ways to promote peace,” the minister stated.
In addition, he said, they were embarking on a nationwide consultation to establish a Zongo soccer league.
He said after the consultation, they would partner with the Ministry of Youth and Sports to roll out the initiative, adding that “this will even help us to also unearth talents among our youth.”