Trade To Aid started as a prong of Gardiner Foundation with the aim to better small businesses in rural Ghana. The initiative seeks to train businesspeople with the knowledge needed to maximise profit as they grow in business year after year and supporting them with micro-investment to facilitate growth.
We currently have micro-investments in 16 businesses in Teiman, a little village outside Accra, Ghana. Some of the businesses are barbering shops, hair beauty salons, tailors, grocery shops, printing press just to mention a few.
To start, we visited a lot of businesses to advertise the opportunities we wanted to offer them and our micro-investment aspect. We trained a couple of businessmen and businesswomen on the basics of how to keep books, cash flow, profit and loss, customer retention and other relevant topics in business. We provided certificate of participation for the attendees and also awarded to the people we selected to invest in.
So far, we have performed two training rounds. During the training sessions we make sure everything we are teaching the attendees is well understood. We teach them the real practical issues businesses confront every single day. We have a very simplified business game that explains the cycle of business and how to classify whether outgoing money is personal expenditure (eg school fees) or a business expense (eg staff salaries).
We also provide ledger books for our investees to keep their daily revenue and expenses which helps them to keep a good record of their business all month and year round. Our project coordinator, who resides in the region, supports them and caters for any situations that occur on the ground day in and day out with our investees. Our investees pay dividends through a flexible shared percentage negotiated between the project coordinator and the investee. On average, our share is 15-25%. We also have a pre-agreed buyout clause which allows the investee to buy back our share at anytime. All our profits are reinvested in other local businesses, with the aim to keep all dividend payments within the local areas where they originated.
Although there have been numerous challenges and difficulties to get to where we are now, from our first investment rounds we now have the experience to improve our training and continue to grow our micro-investment programme, including expanding to new areas within Ghana.
Comment from our investee
Michael Mottey, owner of printing press company said: “Trade to Aid is a company I don’t regret [working with] and I will never regret joining because they have been my business backbone since they came to Ghana. Their services [are] second to none, their [investment] terms for those they have helped is so flexible and convenient. If am given the platform to rate I will personally give them five star.
All I wish is that they can extend their services to other regions in Ghana because [there are] Ghanaians who have suffered from others for too long and waiting patiently for Trade to Aid”.
Other comments compared our flexible our investment terms are in comparison to micro-finance options and how our customer welfare policies are second to none.