Entrepreneurial excellence was once again rewarded by the Cameroon Government by doling out financial assistance to entrepreneurs with innovative, relevant, feasible and profitable project ideas with growth potentials and possibilities of job creation.
This was within the framework of the 2020 Prototype support Fund under the coordination of the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts(MINPMEESA), through the Agency for SMEs. Under its three year youth plan and support to the Prototype Fund, 16 of the laureates received distinctive checks from the Ministry of Youth and Civic Education worth 48.000.000frs CFA to enable them finalize their prototypes and make them available in the markets.
The projects selected include those under the sectors of health, construction, housing, food industry, education and cosmetics.
The relevance of the Prototype Fund stems from the fact that innovative ideas and projects, very often at the development stage of a product or service, are abandoned due to lack of financial support. This fund therefore aims at bridging the gapwhile accelerating the industrialization process in Cameroon as desired by the Head of State, Paul Biya.
Bakam Edith Blek, an Engineer at Cameroon Eco Building Solutions and a beneficiary of the fund attests that “with funds that we benefitted from APME, we will be able to produce the machine in series. Our aim here is to produce the machine in larger quantities in order to cope with the market demand and also supply the central African subregion. Before we received the funds, we were just designing the machine but with the funds, we were able to make the first prototype of the machine. Now, we will be able to put in a range of industrial process, to make multiple pieces.“
It should be noted that the implementation of the Prototype Fund unfolds in several stages, which include the creation of awareness across the national territory, calls for projects submission, selection of projects to be supported for prototyping and a notice of expression of interest that will enable the selection and recruitment of technical service providers who will help winners to produce the different prototypes according to the prototyping needs identified.
The contractualisation and actual support for prototyping consist of matching each project with the best qualified service provider and drawing up the technical specifications and roadmap for support. There was national workshop held on 7th April 2021 to present the results of the experts.
The prototyping fund was officially launched on June 15,2020. The package, which spans across three years, amounts to approximately 3.235 billion FRS CFA, of which 20% is allocated for operations and 80% forinvestment (support to the beneficiaries).
The sum of 50 million FCFA was made available for the first test year – 2020. The 48 million FRS CFA granted to the 16 laureates during the ceremony held on the 7th of April at the Regional Chamber of Commerce was in addition to the 50 million earmarked for the first year.
Meanwhile in order to increase the number of beneficiaries and the impact of this initiative on the country’s economy, it would be necessary to seek resources from various financial donors. Arrangements are already being finalized by competent authorities for the launch of the next edition of the prototype fund.
By Ndieh Richard