The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) has been restructured into the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and resourced with GH¢145 million to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new agency is the national body that caters for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
Launching the agency in Accra yesterday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said: “The act establishing the agency makes the GEA the apex body to co-ordinate and promote the growth and development of MSMEs in the country. The GEA will lead the way in creating a dynamic MSME ecosystem and entrepreneurial community to help propel Ghana’s growth.”
Economic transformation project
President Akufo-Addo said the GH¢145 million fund, backed by the World Bank, would help SMSEs resuscitate their operations under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project.
He explained that the fund would be disbursed to 350 SMEs to help them grow into sustainable businesses capable of competing on the regional, continental and global stage.
The President, who also launched the National Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and Entrepreneurship Policy, indicated that it was the first of its kind in the country designed to direct the growth of the sector, provide a clear policy direction and opportunities for all actors within the MSME space to enable them to contribute meaningfully towards the development of the country.
He noted that the policy direction was to reduce, if not eliminate, the duplication of efforts currently being witnessed in the SMEs sector, ensure the judicious use of resources, implement programmes to formalise and support the informal sector and design intervention to support MSMEs.
The President said one of the priorities of his administration since 2017 had been to transform the structure of the economy from being a producer and exporter of raw materials to a value-added industrialised one to create jobs for the youth.
He said that could not be realised without creating an agency for the sector to play a lead role in the transformation process because the sector employed more than 80 per cent of the workforce and generated some 70 per cent of the gross domestic product.
Aside from these, he said, the sector was confronted with numerous challenges, such as the lack of a clear policy shaping its direction, as well as insufficient finance, all of which had been accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To address the damage caused by the pandemic, the President said the government implemented the COVID-19 alleviation programme business support scheme over a year ago, aimed at limiting the impact of the pandemic on job losses and livelihoods.
Furthermore, he mentioned the GH¢750-million stimulus package from the government to the private sector that provided relief for various businesses in order to help sustain them and help keep staff on the payroll.
President Akufo-Addo added that the government partnered the MasterCard Foundation, through the former NBSSI, and advanced to MSMEs an additional GH¢90 million as part of the NBSSI/MasterCard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme.
That, he said, was referred to as the Nkosuo programme for MSMEs, in line with the government’s priority to achieve economic transformation, COVID-19 notwithstanding, and that to date some 300,000 businesses had benefited from those interventions.
He added that the government was working systematically to ensure that it found more solutions to support entrepreneurs and their MSMEs to feel their growth and said the GH¢100 billion Ghana Obaantanpa CARES project was one of such innovative initiatives which would
help revitalise and transform the economy.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, said the Akufo-Addo administration believed that SMEs held the key to industrialisation and the employment drive of any economy, hence the deliberate decision to support their growth.
He cited Amazon and Facebook, which had very humble beginnings but currently had turnover of hundreds of billions of dollars annually and said that was what the government wanted to replicate in Ghana.
The minister said the policy of the government was also to position MSMEs to be capable of playing lead roles and benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, as well as drive the national developmental agenda.
Explaining the new agency and the policy, the Chief Executive of the GEA, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, noted that in the past everybody was doing whatever he or she wanted within the sector, with no clear direction, leading to duplications.
However, she said, with the new direction, the GEA was stronger and better placed at promoting, strengthening and building more synergies to be able to grow the businesses more than they had ever been able to do.