The envelope dedicated to direct support for high-potential SMEs affected by the pandemic amounts to CFA francs one billion five hundred million. The envelope dedicated to support craftspeople and actors of cooperative societies manufacturing handicraft masks and hydro-alcoholic gels amounts to CFA francs five hundred million, or an overall of CFA francs 2 billion.
According to a study carried out by the National Institute of Statistics (NIS) in April/May 2020, 93% of Cameroonian enterprises have been strongly affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. This pandemic led to a partial or complete cessation of their activities and difficulties in selling their production. With a view to encouraging Cameroonian enterprises, the vast majority of which are SMEs, the Prime Minister, Head of Government signed Decree No. 2020/3221/PM of 22 July 2020 which sets out the distribution of the allocation of the Special National Solidarity Fund, for the fight against the coronavirus and its economic and social impacts. In accordance with the provisions of the said Decree, the Minister of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts (MINPMEESA)Achille BASSILEKIN III, signed on 11 September 2020 Decision No. 20/00060/D/MINPMEESA/SG/DAJ to lay down the terms and conditions for granting support to SMEs, craftspeople and social economy organisations, within the framework of the said Fund. To be eligible, SMEs are entitled to justify a legal existence and be a member of an umbrella organisation; operate in sectors that have been strongly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, such as the processing of local products, the digital economy and the production of media for events; operate effectively and continuously since at least the beginning of the 2019 financial year; having recorded a significant decrease in activity compared to the 2019 financial year during the period of implementation of government measures against the spread of the Coronavirus.
Support for SMEs was already at the heart of the launch of the 9th edition of the International Trade and Employment Exhibition (SIME) which was held from 8 to 10 September 2020 at the CIAY. The theme of this edition was:“What steps should be taken to relaunch employment opportunities in a context of Covid-19”. Under the Patronage of the President of the Republic, the opening ceremony of SIME 2020 was co-chaired on 9th September by the Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Issa TCHIROMA BAKARY, and his counterpart from Small and Medium-sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts, Achille BASSILEKIN III. The agro-pastoral, processing industry and digital sectors were mainly showcased during this fair. Globally speaking, the specific objectives of SIME were to identify the trades affected by the coronavirus crisis, the so-called “essential” trade sectors, and to draw up proposals for adjustments in the legal and strategic employment framework. Based on a survey carried out by the Groupement Inter-patronal du Cameroun (GICAM) on enterprises affected by Covid-19 between April and June 2020, which shows that 53,346 employees went into technical unemployment and 13,834 permanent employees were laid off in Cameroon, MINPMEESA and MINEFOP discussed during the SIME about the steps to be taken to save jobs affected by the Covid-19 health crisis.
The MINPMEESA/MINEFOP tandem was deployed in Edéa on 11 September 2020 as part of the solemn end of the training course in quality, safety, health, hygiene and environmental management (QSHE), offered to the laureates of the first batch of the National Pilot Enterprise Nursery of Edéa (PNPE). The certificate-award ceremony was co-chaired by Ministers Achille BASSILEKIN III and Issa TCHIROMA BAKARY. The MINPMEESA announced the creation of a vocational training centre within the Edéa PNPE to broaden the scope of knowledge and skills of young trained and incubated people in this nursery. As a reminder, the first batch of learners, eighteen in total, of the Edéa PNPE is operational since 22 July 2020, the date of their graduation. The best of this batch will benefit from technical and material support from the State via MINPMEESA, to develop the ICT, food processing, textile and leather processing sectors. The support with an estimated value of CFAF 4.2 billion should, according to projections, generate a turnover of CFAF 102 billion after three years.
Women’s entrepreneurship also benefits, in a singular way, from special attention from the public authorities. On 15 September 2020, the Minister of SMESEH, on behalf of the First Lady of Cameroon, Mrs. Chantal BIYA, presided over the inauguration ceremony of the headquarters building of the Groupement des Femmes d’Affaires du Cameroun (GFAC). During this ceremony, MINPMEESA handed out end-of-training certificates to the learners of the first batch of the GFAC’s special incubation structure. The objective of the training was to equip the young women, to introduce them to the tricks of the entrepreneurial world in order for them to be able to overcome the obstacles they will face when they actually start their entrepreneurial career. In handing over the certificates, the Personal Representative of the First Lady, Achille BASSILEKIN III, asked the young laureates to make the most of the lessons they learned and to stand out in order to participate in the development of our country as well. In order to support GFAC’s efforts, the MINPMEESA promised to provide exceptional support worth CFA francs 50 million for the incubator housed in the GFAC, as part of the 2021 budget. This support will help to accompany the project leaders who will become business leaders capable of sustaining their activities. On behalf of the Group, the National Chairperson of GFAC, Honourable NTUBE NDODE Agnès, thanked the Head of State and his wife for their contribution to the empowerment and development of Cameroonian women entrepreneurs. She expressed her gratitude to the government, and particularly to MINPMEESA for its unfailing and multifaceted support.
Still motivated by the desire to deepen collaboration between MINPMEESA and organisations preparing young people for the entrepreneurial world, the Minister of SMEs, Social Economy and Handicrafts, Achille BASSILEKIN III granted an audience on 21 September 2020 to PrAissatou SY-WONYU, Regional Director for Central Africa and the Great Lakes of the AgenceUniversitaire de la Francophonie (AUF). The progress of this MINPMEESA/AUF collaboration was on the agenda of the said audience. The exchanges also focused on the opportunity for Cameroon to take advantage of the new virtual entrepreneurship university AUF is developing to build the capacities of young Cameroonians projects holders in the incubators, and to enable collaboration between the networks of public and private national incubators and the training modules developed within this virtual entrepreneurship university. MINPMEESA also took this opportunity to inform the new Regional Director, who took office on 1st September 2020, of the organisation of an International Symposium on Entrepreneurship Education in Cameroon in December 2020. MINPMEESA has also requested the support of the AUF, as one of its core interest lies in the dissemination of entrepreneurial culture through its university network. The two parties agreed on the elaboration of a joint roadmap which will define the series of activities to be carried out in favour of the Cameroonian entrepreneurial ecosystem, and which will certainly be taken up within the framework of the AUF’s 2021-2025 five-year strategy, with a focus on the needs and priorities of the beneficiaries. It should be recalled that Cameroon is currently implementing a programme of the International Organisation of the Francophonie (OIF) for the promotion of youth and women’s entrepreneurship. The Regional Director is committed to mobilising the AUF network of experts to build the capacities of actors in the Cameroonian entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Concerning the supervision of young project leaders, the pilot phase of the Prototype Fund, placed under the Patronage of the President of the Republic, His Excellency Paul BIYA, has been launched. Twenty (20) laureates selected out of 800 candidates received awards on Thursday 20 August 2020 in Yaounde during the Awards Ceremony of the “Fonds-Proto” chaired by the Minister of SMEs, Achille BASSILEKIN III.The ceremony was attended by several members of Government including the Minister of Finance (MINFI), the Minister of Youth and Civic Education (MINJEC), the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MINADER), the Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development (MINMIDT), the Minister of Urban Development and Housing (MINDUH) and the Minister of Basic Education (MINEDUB). The prize of the President of the Republic was awarded to Mr Serge Armel NDJIDJOU for his automatic and hybrid disinfection gantry intended for the fight against Covid-19.
Finally, at the beginning of July 2020, the Minister of SMESEH signed a partnership agreement with the Association “Journées de l’EntrepreneuriatÉthique du Cameroun” (JEC). This sets out the joint partnership terms and conditions for the design and implementation of entrepreneurial promotion activities. It integrates several actions such as the search for funding, training and capacity building of actors through entrepreneurial caravans that will extend over the ten regions of Cameroon. The Association JEC aims at promoting ethical values in the entrepreneurship sector and to create wealth in order to stifle unemployment. It is therefore purposely that the promoter, Erik LINDOU, turned to the Ministry of SMEs, the adequate interlocutor and guarantor of the implementation of the national policy for the promotion of entrepreneurship in Cameroon. This win-win partnership is more beneficial for young start-uppers and project holders.