Following the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses, government has taken several steps to cushion businesses and individuals.
Aside from large scale businesses, some stimulus packages have been set aside for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)
Apart from the GHS 1 Billion Coronavirus Alleviation Program (CAP), Business Support Scheme launched by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo- Addo in May, the Young Africa Works (YAW) Project, an initiative of the National Board for Small Scale Industries, (NBSSI) in collaboration with the MasterCard Foundation, is taking steps to assist MSMEs.
Ahead of the launch of this project, and as part of the commemoratiom of International MSME day, the NBSSI organized a panel discussion on raising entrepreneurs amidst the COVID-19.
The panel discussion, which was under the theme, “COVID-19, The great lockdown and its impact on small businesses among others, looked at opportunities available for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs) and the importance of digitization.
The NBSSI after monitoring small businesses over the period of the outbreak, has advised small businesses to integrate and take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade area.
Habiba Sumani, the Director for Enterprise Development at NBSS, said “Let’s not forget that we have signed unto the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Regardless of COVID-19 or even beyond COVID-19, there’s also the sub-regional markets that the MSMEs can tap into so in your planning and in your thinking of how to go beyond this phase, life will come back to normal at some point, but how are you preparing yourself for that,” she said.
Vice President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Humphrey Ayim-Darke, also said, if MSMEs do not assess the impact of the outbreak on their businesses from time to time, the possibility of their businesses collapsing will be high.
“Once you the leader educates and avails himself with knowledge, you could then clearly assess the extent of the impact of the rirus, then you can determine whether you are in the moderate, highly hit or not hit at all. If you do not as a leader deploy the said actions to aid your business, your business can move from moderate to severely impacted and the time to do that is also very important as a leader in that space, ” he emphasized.
According to Madam Sumani, even though a lot of start-ups emerged only during the peak of the outbreak, for longevity in their businesses, entrepreneurs would have to adopt the digitalization approach in order to stay in business.
“Be visible online because in these times, you can’t carry your product shop-to-shop and very few people walk into places to purchase so making yourself available online would also be very important. Now more than ever, MSMEs must be told the truth. Those who have been left behind need to come on board as quickly as possible”.
The CEO of Solution Oasis, Francesca Opoku, added that even though women in MSMEs were gravely affected by the pandemic, they rose to the occasion to help with the fight against the virus.
“Somebody would ask, why women businesses, and that COVID-19 knows no man or woman so wasn’t everybody affected? I would say it’s just like “Black Lives Matter” and “All lives Matter” everybody was affected, but I’d say especially women, who are the people who are mostly doing the cross-border trade. Who are the ones who are going into the hinterlands to bring the foods and everything into our markets? It’s our women.”
“When you come into the formal and the semi-formal (sectors) who are the ones who are the most there? It is mostly our women. So, that is how come I can say that women were especially affected, but of course not the only ones affected. Most of our women are leaders in the businesses that got the opportunity to come up with the PPE, to produce the face masks and sanitizers. So that tended to be a boom for some of our women businesses” Madam Opoku said.
Even though some MSMEs facing liquidity challenges may be oblivious to the numerous funds at their disposal, Habiba Sumani says engagements with mandated institutions will bring to light the support available to them.
“Engaging with the various institutions within the Ecosystem, be it the Government, or NGOs will help you understand some of the opportunities and services that are available for you to take advantage of during these times to help growth your business and to help you to sustain it. So, at this point, we encourage you do more of such engagements and then you’ll be aware of what is happening around you”.
About the Young Africa Works Project
The MasterCard Foundation and NBSSI’s partnership falls under the NBSSI’s Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Program (YEEP). This partnership is expected to create employment and income-generation opportunities for 39,000 young women and men in Ghana, with 70 percent of the beneficiaries being women.
The Three Project Components
Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship (ICE) aims at transforming young women and men into successful entrepreneurs. Beneficiaries will be trained and supported to be come out as innovative and creative entrepreneurs.
Apprenticship to Entrepreneurship (A2E) aims at equipping and training young women and men through apprenticeship programs and direct pathway to income generation opportunities with a strong focus on entrepreneurship development alongside technical expertise.
MSME Business Acceleration (MBA) aims at fast-tracking the growth and productivity of MSMEs in Ghana with a strong focus on women-owned and led enterprises. It will address barriers relating to networking, access to market and access to finance.