Sierra Leonean made goods and services competing with imports

Made in Salone: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 9 February 2023:

Made in Salone – a concept to showcase the positive impact of domestic production and manufacturing businesses – goes live with a short video about Sierra Bo Garri, a pioneering cassava farming and garri processing operation. (Photo: From cassava to gari to plate).

Made in Salone will consist of a series of interviews, features, case histories and videos produced by Invest Salone – the UK government-funded private sector development initiative, and shared through social media. These will highlight how local manufacturing and production firms expand the range of local products available, create jobs, develop skills, boost the incomes of small producers, and raise foreign exchange through exports.

Made in Salone contributes to a growing narrative of confidence in homegrown production across Africa, joining campaigns such as ‘Made in Rwanda’, ‘Buy Local, Grow Namibia’, and ‘Proudly South African’.

There is already an increasing appetite for locally made products in Sierra Leone. Events such as the annual Ma Dengn festival, which was launched in 2009 to celebrate Sierra Leonean culture, have been instrumental in building appreciation for the local creative sector’s contribution to the economy.

Pop-up markets like Global Entrepreneurship Week’s expo for female entrepreneurs are drawing attention to women-owned production companies. With contemporary takes on heritage textiles, Sierra Leone’s fashion and textile industry also plays a key role in attracting national and international notice to items produced in Sierra Leone.

Made in Salone will complement existing activity in Sierra Leone aimed at building the image and competitiveness of local goods and services. This is led by the Sierra Leone Local Content Agency (SLLCA). Fodeba Daboh, Director General, says that nurturing domestic manufacturing and production by creating links between foreign direct investment and the local economy is a primary objective of the SLLCA.

One of the agency’s flagship events for effecting these links, the annual trade fair, has grown into a three-day event showcasing businesses across eight sectors. Last year it attracted a record 210 local businesses and multinationals, and around 1,500 buyers. This, says Mr Daboh, is a measure of how the range of quality locally produced goods has grown as well as interest from the general public.

Yeniva Sisay, Production Lead at MaDengn, uses the term ‘cultureprenurship’ to describe how young entrepreneurs are monetising elements of Sierra Leonean culture and marketing them globally and says: “There has been a lot of progress in both the quality and range of domestically produced goods since we started MaDengn. It’s been a privilege to watch the evolution of some of our brands.”

She cites MaHun Pantry, Madame Wokie, Offino Naturals and United Africa Wears as examples. “We still have a way to go, but with more opportunities to be trained, people will continue to diversify and create products we can export to the world.”

Chukwu-Emeka Chikezie, Team Leader at Invest Salone, says that Made in Salone will broaden the conversation around the economic impact of locally produced goods: “Among consumers globally, there has been a shift towards more conscious purchasing decisions, with a desire for clarity around the provenance of the products that are available.”

He goes on to note: “The Made in Salone campaign complements efforts by the government of Sierra Leone to drive the country’s economic transformation, which will see more Sierra Leoneans engaged in higher productivity jobs in a more diversified economy, with Sierra Leonean goods and services competing with imports as well as capturing lucrative shares of export markets.”

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