Social enterprises role in responding to the pandemic, particularly in the health and education sector, has been phenomenal, hence, the need for the draft social enterprises policy currently before cabinet to be passed for the sector to grow and achieve more, CEO of Social Enterprise (SE) Ghana, Amma Lartey has said.
Speaking to the B&FT at a multi-stakeholder consultative workshop on social enterprises in the country, sponsored by BUSAC, DANIDA and USAID, Ms. Lartey said deliberate steps must be taken to ensure that the goodwill gained translates into the policy being treated as a high-priority subject.
She thus called for processes to be expedited on the policy, which was drafted in February of 2017, to reflect recent legislative developments.
“We have spoken to key stakeholders across political divides and everyone is in support of a policy for social enterprises as there is a strong desire to see businesses as vehicles for social good,” she noted.
Additionally, she said, “Governments across the board have shown a deep commitment to growing the private sector; at least, it is a goal that has been declared by all governments. What we are asking for is a set of very focused action step for the one sub-sector that has the potential to deliver, not just financial return and economic prosperity but also solutions to social problems.”
According to her, prevailing signals indicate a willingness on the part of government to complement the national industrialisation agenda with the promotion of the Social Enterprise sub-sector, which a recent survey places at 90,000-entities strong.
She is of the opinion that the responses of social enterprises to the pandemic, particularly in key sectors such as healthcare and education, have highlighted their importance and the momentum gained must be harnessed to drive growth in the sub-sector.
She added that, as part of measures to ensure sanity in the sub-sector and minimise avenues for abuse of potential incentives, there will be the need to provide industry-level certification for entities that identify as social enterprises; an endeavor which will be undertaken in the coming year.
“Social Enterprises are measured by the impact they have, it must be validated and it must be intentional. Next year, we are going to roll out certification for social enterprises because there must be accountability… Before you become a social entrepreneur, who is able to take advantage of certain benefits, you need to be audited and you need to pass the standard. We are pushing for more accountability in all the sectors where there is a claim of social enterprises.”
Offering similar thoughts at the event, Senior Commercial Officer at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ofori Asante-Agyei gave assurance that the policy is dear to the state and in particular, the ministry, hence, the assurance that it will soon be passed.
He indicated that with the successful delivery of the policy framework for Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprises under which most social enterprises fall, there is no significant impediment to the review of the policy draft.
“The focus was to have the MSME policy developed and approved, as it is a broader framework. Since this has been achieved, it should be easier to have this one sorted out,” he said.