By Frank Amponsah
The President of the Republic, Nana AddoDankwaAkufo-Addo, has launched the Ghana Enterprises Agency (formerly NBSSI), the National Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and Entrepreneurship Policy, and the GEA Grant Support for SMEs, under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project, which is backed by the World Bank.
Performing the launch on Wednesday, yesterday at the Kempinski Hotel, in Accra, President Akufo-Addo described the event as “a happy day for our nation’s micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs)”.
The President indicated that the National Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Policy is the first of its kind in Ghana, adding that “it is a policy designed to direct the growth of the sector, provide clear policy direction and opportunities for all actors within the MSME space, to enable them contribute meaningfully towards the development of the country”.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the Ghana Enterprises Agency has been prescribed by the National MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy to implement the Policy.
“The Act establishing the Agency makes GEA the apex body to co-ordinate and promote the growth and development of MSMEs in the country. GEA will lead the way in creating a dynamic MSME ecosystem and entrepreneurial community to help propel Ghana’s growth,” he said.
The President continued, “The policy direction is to reduce, if not eliminate, the duplication of efforts currently being witnessed in the MSME sector, ensure the judicious use of resources, implement programmes to formalize and support the informal sector, and design interventions to support MSMEs in the country”.
To this end, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the GEA SME Grant Fund has been established to support SMEs to recover from the effects of COVID-19, and also help them to resuscitate their operations under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project.
Disbursement of this grant, amounting to one hundred and forty-five million cedis (GH¢145 million), he stressed, will be made to two hundred and fifty (250) to three hundred and fifty (350) SMEs to help them grow into sustainable businesses, capable of competing on the regional, continental and global stages.
Support to MSMEs
In his speech, President Akufo-Addo indicated that he came into office, in 2017, with the vision of transforming the structure of our economy, from one characterized by being mere producers and exporters of raw materials, to a value-added, industrialised one, which will create the necessary numbers of jobs needed for the teeming masses of Ghanaian youth.
“We cannot realise this vision fully without creating and strengthening an agency for the MSME sector to play a lead role in the transformation process. One might ask, why MSMEs? The answer is simple. It is because the sector employs more than eighty percent (80%) of the workforce, and generates some seventy percent (70%) of the Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
That is why, at the height of the pandemic in Ghana, the President noted that Government announced and implemented the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS).
“The goal was to limit the impact of the pandemic on job losses and livelihoods, by supporting MSMEs. Administered by the then NBSSI, now GEA, the novel seven hundred- and fifty-million-cedi (GH¢750 million) stimulus package from Government to the private sector provided relief to various business, in order to help sustain them, and help keep staff on the payroll,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “Government further partnered with the Mastercard Foundation, again through NBSSI, to advance to MSMEs an additional amount of ninety million cedis (GH¢90 million), as part of the NBSSI/Mastercard Foundation Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme, also referred to as the nkɔsuo programme for MSMEs, in line with Government’s priority to achieve economic transformation, COVID-19 notwithstanding.”
To date, he stated that some three hundred thousand (300,000) businesses have benefited from these interventions.
“We know there is more work to be done, and we are doing the work. We will not rest on our oars. Government is working systematically to ensure that we find more solutions to support entrepreneurs and their MSMEs to fuel their growth. The one hundred-billion-cedi (GH¢100 billion) Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ project is one such innovative initiative, which will revitalise and transform the economy. It, indeed, anchors bright prospects for the medium-term,” the President said.