The Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) in collaboration with AFOS Foundation organised the third edition of the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum (TEF 2023) on 21 June 2023. The aim is to minimise the digitalisation deficit and advance small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
The TEF2023 was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel and was part of the Tech Entrepreneurship Month. This aims to help harness the synergies between academia and industry. Supporting the SME sector in its continued digital transformation is a key concern. Compared to the global economy, Ghanaian SMEs play an even more important role for their country: they provide over 80 percent of jobs and contribute to more than 70 percent of private sector output. Despite rapid digitisation in recent years, many SMEs in Ghana continue to lag behind their regional competitors due to cost and information barriers.
ICT as a Driving Force of the Economy in Ghana
Osei Assibey Antwi, Executive Director of the National Service Scheme (NSS), was pleased with the efforts of the IIPGH and the AFOS Foundation in organising the forum. He explained that it fitted perfectly into the government’s plan. “We are very pleased with the success of the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum which has brought academia and industry together to address the digitalisation deficit of Ghana’s SMEs,” he said. “ICT is the driving force of the fourth industrial revolution and digitisation is the ladder without which you will be left behind,” he added. He commended the University of Cape Coast and Accra Technical University for their proactive work in digitisation and education.
SMEs attending the Tech Entrepreneurs Forum also benefited from the consultancy services of DigiCAP Junior Consultants (JCs). The JCs demonstrated their expertise in data analytics and business intelligence. Carefully selected from among the DigiCAP project beneficiaries, they provided the SMEs with valuable insights and guidance on their digital transformation.
The Ghana TEF 2023 is to be further expanded
The Executive Director of the IIPGH, David Gowu, stressed the importance of promoting and supporting technology-based entrepreneurship in Ghana. The Ghana Tech Entrepreneur Forum 2023 is an important networking platform for companies, SMEs, independent consultants and start-ups. They can present their innovative products and services there and give participants the opportunity to make contacts. Collaborations could be stimulated and opportunities for growth and digital progress explored. Gowu also expressed plans to expand the forum – starting with the fourth edition next year. The aim is to reach an even larger audience and have a stronger impact on the SME digitalisation landscape.
The DigiCAP Junior Consultants (JCs)
SMEs attending Ghana TEF 2023 also benefited from the consultancy services of the DigiCAP Junior Consultants (JCs). The JCs demonstrated their expertise in data analytics and business intelligence. Carefully selected from among the DigiCAP project beneficiaries, they provided the SMEs with valuable insights and guidance on their digital transformation.
The AFOS Foundation’s project manager, Hanna Schlingmann, was enthusiastic about the continuation of the partnership. She referred to the excellent work of the junior consultants and the positive feedback from the SMEs. She emphasised the Foundation’s commitment to promoting growth and development in the SME sector through strategic cooperation and innovative initiatives. The foundation for improved collaboration, knowledge sharing and skills development has been laid, she said. This helps the SME sector to become more digitally ready and competitive in the global market.
The junior consultants selected by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Accra Technical University (ATU) under the DigiCAP programme are currently at a developmental stage. However, based on the requirements of their training, they are already able to provide free consultancy services through internships.
The AFOS Foundation encourages SMEs across the country to take advantage of this unique offer. They are enthusiastic learners with ICT and interpersonal skills that businesses need to tackle problems such as good customer communication. They learn to be creative in problem-solving and are able to develop solutions that meet customers’ needs through collaborative and iterative working.
What are the Benefits for Companies of hiring JCs?
The consultation is free of charge. You only pay the cost of the recommended solution.
Repetitive business processes can be automated by JCs so you can focus on delivering your essential business solutions.
There is no one size fits all. You get customised solutions to your business problems – tailoring goods, services and encounters to specific business needs.
You have the opportunity to work with a young, motivated team of professionals. This is passionate, skilled and has a fresh perspective on business issues.
These benefits were presented to the SMEs in a world café style presentation. At the same time, possible solutions were discussed to be offered to the industry partners and participants of the event.
The Ghanaian Government is betting on the enormous Potential that can arise from Digitalisation
Technical and entrepreneurial skills – as well as trained personnel who can support organisations with their digitalisation problems – are in great demand. The AFOS Foundation and its supporting partners from business (IIPGH) and academia (UCC and ATU) are making a crucial contribution to this. The DigiCAP project creates practice-oriented certification programmes and supports initiatives in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).
The partnership project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through sequa gGmbH as part of the special initiative “Decent Work for a Just Transition”.
Together with the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, we pave the Way for Agricultural Loans in Nigeria
The collaboration with the Frankfurt School of Finance & Managementwas established in spring 2020 during a visit to Germany and Luxembourg. The aim of the cooperation is to facilitate cross-border partnerships. It also aims to facilitatesystemic exchange and knowledge transfer between the Nigerian Microfinance Platform (NMP) actors and best practice institutions in Europe.
AFOS partners with the Frankfurt School of Finance to align our work in Nigeria with global best practices. For example, through its Sustainable World Academy and international advisory services, the Frankfurt School works with the AFOS Foundation and the Microfinance Agricultural Learning and Development Centre (MLDC)to deliver world-class learning and development programmes. These address gaps in the microfinance sector, particularly in the promotion of sustainable agricultural credit. As AFOS Foundation, we have entered into an agreement with the Frankfurt School to facilitate the training of microfinance banks in Nigeria.
We start with a Summer School, the Microfinance Masterclass
We start with an annual summer school – a microfinance masterclass run by MLDC with the support of the AFOS Foundation during the project period. This is a mixed (physical and virtual component) four-week programme consisting of eight modules.
The classroom modules are conducted by the local advisors of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management in Nigeria. The online sessions are conducted virtually from Frankfurt. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness of agricultural finance in the microfinance sector and to enable microfinance banks to provide sustainable loans for agriculture. It also aims to create links with smallholder farmers so that they can access agricultural credit from trained microfinance banks.
The pilot was launched in Lagos State on 28 March 2022. The introductory sessions continued first in Ibadan for the South-West Zone. The meetings for the North Central Zone will start on 5 September in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). At each of the events in each zone, the 8 modules of the programme are completed, including during the pilot in Lagos.
Participants are important Decision-Makers
The training of 180 loan officers and managers, who are key decision makers in their respective MFBs, will be conducted in five political zones of Nigeria. The project is designed for a class size of 30 persons (2 participants per MFB). Thus, in addition to the banks that participated in the pilot in Lagos, 15 banks from each of the zones can participate.
Selected Contents that Facilitate the Granting of Agricultural Loans
Participating MFBs were selected based on the Agricultural Finance Survey for Microfinance Banks in Nigeria conducted by AFOS in October 2021. Through the training, they will better understand the challenges of agricultural lending and the success factors and experiences of microfinance banks lending to agriculture. The results of the survey are an important factor in the design of the 8 learning modules of the agricultural credit training programme. The training helps microfinance banks understand the smallholder business and agricultural finance. This is the only way to increase credit to agriculture and agricultural production in Nigeria.
AFOS and Querétaro Energy Cluster sign Memorandum of Agreement
On April 17, 2023, we were able to celebrate the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the AFOS Foundation and the Querétaro Energy Cluster in Hanover. Patrice Rimond, representative of the energy cluster, signed the declaration with the support and honorary witnesses Alejandro Preinfalk and Marco Cosío of Siemens.
The development of innovative, high-quality and relevant talent is a fundamental element for competitiveness in the expansion of dual training in Mexico. Fostering talents who respond to Querétaro’s current socio-economic needs and have the ability to meet the demands of both national and global markets is one of the strategic priorities of our AEDual project.
Exchange on the continuous Improvement of Dual Education Opportunities in Mexico
In addition, the meeting of the Academic and Quality Committee of the State Council for Dual Higher Education was held in the spring. In addition to the presentation of the progress of Aguascalientes, a workshop with dual students and graduates of the dual university model took place at the end of the session, where we collected ideas for improvements and strengths of the project.
With the participation of Noelia Caro, Director of Industriales Jalisco, Irma Leal, Rector of CUCLUTAJO – Centro Universitario de Tlajomulco, German Bonilla Bermudez, AEdual Project Manager, Alfred Vormfelde, Advisor to the AFOS Foundation, as well as representatives of the UNID Campus Guadalajara and sequa gGmbH, the working group “Academy – Quality” was able to exchange views on progress in the dual professions of CUTLAJO and UNID. We are convinced that with Industriales Jalisco, a solid basis for the economic and social development of Jalisco can be created, which in turn creates more and better opportunities for the local people.
Meeting of the Plenary Session of the Economic Committee on Dual Training in Queretano
On 21 March, the plenary session of the Economic Committee on Dual Training met in Queretaro, chaired by Jorge Luis Camacho Ortega, President of COPARMEX Queretaro, and Carlos Antonio Contreras Lopez, State Commissioner for Higher Education, on behalf of SEDEQ.
The event was attended by the presidents of the main economic clusters and associations of the state, the rectors and operational liaison officers of the ten universities that make up the network of dual universities of Queretaro. The State Coordinator for Higher Education, Orfelinda Torres, representatives of the subsystems of higher education and the Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Queretaro, Thomas Wagner, as well as other personalities and special guests also participated.
Beate Heimberger accompanied our Mexican team together with a German delegation. It is responsible for evaluating the results and effects of this bilateral Mexican-German cooperation project. This triple helix project aims to establish and strengthen dual training in Queretaro.
About AEDual and the Expansion of Dual Training in Mexico
With AEDual, we are supporting the Mexican government in introducing a dual vocational education and training system of outstanding quality . This increases the competitiveness of companies and increases the employability of young people in particular. In this way, we make a decisive contribution to the sustainable creation of safe working conditions in Mexico.
The Business Alliance for the Expansion of Dual Training in Mexico (ÆDUAL ) is made up of the AFOS Foundation for Entrepreneurial Development Cooperation, COPARMEX Aguascalientes, COPARMEX Zona Metropolitana de León, COPARMEX Querétaro and the Council of Chambers of Industry of Jalisco (CCIJ) on behalf of CONCAMIN. ÆDUAL collaborates with the Triple Helix (Industry-Academy-State Governments) of the states of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Jalisco and Querétaro.
Dual Education and Training in the Fisheries Sector
Recognizing the need to upskill the country’s workforce, efforts in highlighting industry participation in dual education and training has been a continuous effort bannered by AFOS Foundation and its local partner, the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (CCCI). The inception of the Assessment, Certification, and Accreditation Services (ACAS) in CCCI in 2017 provided a platform to intensify the industry’s participation in workforce development. Thus, leveling the quality of demand and supply of the labor force.
Twenty-six (26) graduates from the seafood processing cluster completed the dual education and training program on March 17, 2023, in Cebu City, Philippines
Twenty-four (24) of the graduates are certified by CCCI as Quality Inspectors and Seafood Production Workers.
The two job profiles under the Basic Qualification Certificate were designed and developed by industry and academic partners of CCCI–ACAS. Within the program, the graduates completed the required In-Company training of 912 hours and In-school training of 240 hours – a total of 1,152 training hours of the DET program.
Baseline Survey Describing the Status of Fisheries in FISH Visayas Project Sites
Recognizing the need for an in-depth understanding of the demographics, status quo, and demands of the project areas, the FISH Visayas Project conducts a baseline survey that seeks to examine the descriptive cross-sectional analyses of individual fishing households in terms of income, living standard, and fishing operations.
The data collected aims to support the project management to better design, align and implement its activities more systematically, toward achieving the targeted results of the project.
415 respondents from the fishing and fish farming households from the project’s nine partner Local Government Units (LGUs) were interviewed for the Baseline Survey.The survey implementation was conducted in the period of three weeks from March 13 to 31, 2023 at the respective barangays of 26 partner people’s organizations. The conduct of the baseline survey corresponds to the objectives and the four (4) key result areas of the FISH Visayas Project namely; Result Area 1 Training for fishermen and MSMEs, Result Area 2 Dual Training in Fisheries, Result Area 3 Market Access, and Result Area 4 Resource Protection.
AFOS Foundation Philippines signs MOA with Bohol Partners
The binding agreement between AFOS Foundation and its Bohol partners was executed on March 10, 2023 at the Belian Hotel, Tagbilaran City, Bohol.
The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) provides the framework for collaboration between the partners, recognizing the need for multi-stakeholder partnerships to promote sustainable fisheries & related food value chains in Central Visayas through the FISH Visayas Project. Further, the agreement supports the improvement of the income situation of fisheries-dependent families and MSMEs along the fisheries and related value chains until June 2025.Further, the agreement supports the improvement of the income situation of fisheries-dependent families and MSMEs along the fisheries and related value chains until June 2025. Finally, the partners agreed to cooperate in mutual trust and to exchange information regularly about all major developments, successes and challenges in the FISH Visayas Project.
Training Programme for Technical Assistants in Software Programming
Together with local business enterprises and educational institutions, we promote the development of skills in the field of software development in Colombia. In Antioquia, 41 young people now already have the opportunity to participate in the new dual training programmes.
Together with our local partner organisation – the Institución Universitaria Salazar y Herrera (IUSH) – the official opening of the new training programme for “Technical Assistants in Software Programming” took place.
Future-oriented Companies promote our Programmes
Also present were the companies Softline, Softnet, Cobelén and Sistemas Sentry, which are now introducing the dual training model in their companies. With their commitment, these future-oriented successful companies promote the implementation of qualified and recognised training programmes in Colombia.
The first cohort of the programme consists of 17 young people who are now benefiting from the educational opportunities facilitated by AFOS. We, working on the ground as Alianza para la Formación, will continue to work to ensure that the association we initiate between the different actors generates more and more synergies and promotes better competitiveness in the sectors we prioritise.
The Globant Company and Cesde join Forces to train Software Development Assistants
Together with our partner organisation, the educational institution Cesde, we were able to start another dual training programme for software development assistants. From now on, 24 young students will be trained here every year. The first-year trainees have the opportunity to gain practical experience at Globant, one of the most important software development and information technology companies in Latin America.
The Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany in Medellin, Alejandro Tieck, also took part in the opening event. This underlines the importance of strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries thanks to international cooperation projects such as our Alianza para la Formación.
In the future, we will continue to advocate for the improvement of the methodology of dual training and will again advocate for the linking of the productive sector with the academic offer of the educational institutions. In this way, we promote social development in the region and help to identify and make good use of synergies between the institutions involved.
By the end of 2023, we would like to have reached more than 60,000 smallholder farmers with AGRAR
In 2022, we were able to train more than 15,000 smallholder farmers in Nigeria within our AGRAR project. In the first phase of the project, we already reached 30,000. By the end of 2023, we would like to have reached over 60,000 smallholders with our measures. At the same time, AFOS is promoting the adaptation of certification to national and international standards.
AFOS AGRAR project in Nigeria
AGRAR focuses on three key development areas:
Development of sustainable agricultural practices
Business management related to agricultural production
Effective cooperative formation.
These measures lead both to improved agricultural cultivation methods and to the creation of rural prosperity and positive synergies within the value chain.
Our program to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers is part of the planned measures of the AFOS INGO AGRAR Phase II project (March 2021 to December 2024). The aim is to build the capacity of smallholder farmers in Nigeria through a training programme on good agricultural practices and farm management . These are mainly the value chains of the production of cereals and pulses, poultry, aquaculture, cashews and cassava. The skills of smallholders are being expanded in order to achieve higher yields and thus higher incomes.
AFOS Nigeria signs AHK agreement for TVET courses
Um die genannten Ziele zu erreichen, ist die Zusammenarbeit und Kooperation mit Beteiligten vor Ort essentiell. Wir freuen uns daher sehr, dass AFOS Nigeria im Dezember 2022 eine Kooperationsvereinbarung mit der Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria abgeschlossen hat. Das Ziel der Zusammenarbeit ist die Anpassung unserer Bildungsangebote – die technische Berufsbildung (Technical Vocational Education and Training – TVET) und die Arbeit eines von AFOS initiierten landwirtschaftlichen Ausbildungszentrums (Agricultural Training Centre – ATC) – an nationale und internationale Zertifizierungsstandards.
Trainees will receive certificates with global relevance in the future
Through this cooperation, the parties involved have the opportunity to actively exchange ideas and adapt their curricula accordingly. The development and implementation of joint processes for the adaptation of the AFOS TVET programme offering and the ATC are thus promoted and valuable learning processes at various levels are made possible. In the future, smallholder farmers in Nigeria will have the opportunity to acquire certificates with global relevance.
The AFOS Foundation works with national and international institutions to ensure the provision of the highest level of training through its AGRAR ll project in Nigeria.
Our project Organics4Zim trained a total of 3,000 smallholder and wild plant collector families for EU certification of organic products in 2022 with the local partner Organic Farming Academy (OFA).
1,500 of the participants were already successfully certified by external inspectors from ECOCERT in November 2022 and can now export their products.
Meanwhile, interest has also been expressed from Zimbabwe’s neighbouring countries to participate in the project. In February 2023, for example, OFA will for the first time conduct a training course for employees of a private company in South Africa.
It is with great pleasure that we observe that ecological sustainability is gaining importance in more and more companies!
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Wilhelm Hofmeister as the new CEO of our AFOS team. Dr. Hofmeister can look back on around 35 years of professional experience at the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, for which he worked as country representative in Chile, Brazil, Singapore and Spain. He also headed the departments for Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America.
From now on, Dr. Hofmeister will contribute his rich international expertise and his great commitment to international cooperation to the work of the AFOS Foundation.
With his election as Chairman on 9 June 2022, the AFOS Board was expanded by a fourth member. Dr. Hildegard Stausberg, Norbert Weiß and Ana Puyalto will continue their work as members of the Executive Board.
Together we are working together on the strategic development of the AFOS Foundation for a world in which responsible sustainable entrepreneurship and qualified vocational training are becoming increasingly commonplace for young people.
After a little more than half a year, our Colombia project is making good progress. The two focus sectors of digitalisation and tourism hold enormous potential for local companies and at the same time promise many qualified training positions for young Colombians. The interest in needs-oriented, practical vocational training is higher than ever before. And so, since the beginning of the year, there has been a lively exchange in various clusters and forums of IT and tourism on the topic of dual vocational training. Together with our main partner, the Medellín Chamber of Commerce (CCMA), our team in Colombia first surveyed the needs of the individual companies. An awareness-raising workshop at the end of March was intended to familiarise interested companies in both sectors and the educational institutions involved with the dual system, to standardise ideas and concepts for it and to develop an initial roadmap for the near future with our project partners CCMA and SENA. Our project team received support from the Head of the Sustainability & Education Department of the German Chamber of Foreign Trade (AHK) in Bogotá, who is also the Director of the Dual University of Latin America. During the visit of Ana Puyalto (Finance Manager AFOS) and Daniela Tscherpel (Project Manager Colombia & Mexico) from the Cologne head office, existing connections to the local partners and relevant German actors such as the German Embassy and the AHK could be strengthened. The course has been set for a successful project: The first train-the-trainer courses are to start this summer so that the first trainees can start their dual training in the very near future, too.
In presence of the representatives of the participating Mexican states, the German Embassy and the Mexican business association COPARMEX, a Memorandum of Understanding of the Business Alliance for Dual Education was signed on 25th November 2021. The aim of the alliance is to pave the way to a qualified dual vocational training for a significant number of students and companies in the 5 participating states of Quéretaro, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes and Jalisco. The AFOS Foundation was represented at this important event by its Chairman of the Board, Mrs. Dr. Hildegard Stausberg. Dr. Stausberg emphasised to the audience the great potential of the alliance for society but also for strengthening the economic region of Centro-Bajío-Occidente.