SMEs reporting in Ghana: Sustainability in Action!
16 November 2018

Sustainability reporting can really help companies of all sizes, and anywhere in the world to improve their own processes and publicly demonstrate their responsible business practices. Through its Competitive Business Program and with the support of SECO (Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs), GRI helped SMEs in Ghana report for the first time. Participating SMEs and GRI learnt that sustainability reporting can lead to clear business benefits for smaller companies in developing countries, and that digital tools can encourage and facilitate reporting. 
Canned mushrooms are good and readily available in Ghana, but fresh mushrooms, according to Fafape Ama Etsa Foe, are much better. Not only that, they were close to impossible to procure. So Fafape took the business opportunity with open arms and, in 2015, founded E90, that has since then become one of the largest producers of fresh organic mushrooms and mushroom products in Ghana. In 2018, she participated in GRI’s Competitive Business Program, with the intention to “measure, understand and communicate our company’s economic, environmental, social and governance performance and then set goals and manage change more effectively.” 

The resulting sustainability report that E90 produced focused on environmental and procurement practices. It is one of 15 reports produced so far under GRI’s Competitive Business Program in Ghana. With the help of local government agency NBSSI (National Board for Small Scale Industries), interested entrepreneurs ranging from fashion schools to juice producers, and from soap makers to catering services, got a head start to really understand and apply sustainability reporting to identify where they can bring improvements to their small and medium-sized businesses. 

For Fafape and E90, writing a sustainability report had bottom-line effects. As they discovered, “…due to non-disclosures of our procurement practices, raw materials are sometimes over-bought, which increases our production costs…” So in the near future, the company will adopt procurement practices that focus on reducing inefficiencies.

And, as they acknowledge, protecting the environment is important to their own success. And they are engaging with the local community to procure waste from other industries to use as material for growing their mushrooms, as well as participating with government agencies in improving ties with the community and together engage in environmental preservation.

For Fafape and the other participating Ghanaian entrepreneurs, sustainability reporting has allowed them to better understand where their current points of improvement are. They have realized that adopting and documenting their sustainable business practices positively affects their bottom line, as well as their relation to their community and the environment. Armed with this information, they are finding new ways to grow their business and their profits, establishing new processes and procedures that will hopefully enable them to reach new markets.