Formalise and take advantage of the new normal – Vodafone CEO to MSMEs

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The Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone, Patricia Obo-Nai, is pushing for all economic actors to support efforts at formalising the nation’s informal Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), as their numbers hold a great opportunity to accelerate economic growth.

With Vodafone providing the technological capacity that is helping disburse the GH¢600million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme, Mr. Obo-Nai firmly believes that the formalisation of these businesses holds the key to significant revenue growth for government.

“It has really opened our eyes to the reality that the majority of the economy is informal,” she said at the Vodafone Business Runway Webinar Series organised by the Business and Financial Times (B&FT). So far, Vodafone has helped disburse some GH¢57million to 60,000 individuals and micro businesses under the scheme.

She added that one of the reasons why Vodafone is proud to provide the technology is the opportunity to help formalise these businesses, since they needed certain documentation including Tax Identification Numbers (TINs), business mobile money accounts in order to access the funds which they registered for, but didn’t have initially.

“They are not probably going to move to the full extent of big cooperates, but there is a middle ground that they will be able to reach and get recognised to access some of these funds in future. Nobody knows what other wave is coming; if it is not COVID-19 it could be something else, so I think it is important that we prepare our small-scale industries to be ready for this ‘new normal’ everybody is talking about.”

For her, the experience gained from the exercise inspired Vodafone to organise the maiden edition of the Vodafone Business Runway – aimed at empowering Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprise with the requisite skills, insights and opportunities that will enable them manage and build thriving businesses.

Mrs. Obo- Nai said: “Being the partner mobile money operator for disbursement of the GH¢600million to MSMEs across the country, we decided to collaborate with the NBSSI to focus our first webinar on the CAP; what next for beneficiary SMEs; and how they can leverage technology to survive during and after the pandemic.

“Many organisations are finding effective ways to digitally transform their competitiveness by reinventing back-office processes, and speeding up supply chain and other HR services using technology. All these in an effort to win in the current dispensation and lead their respective industries; and also in order not to be left behind.”

Data from the Ministry of Finance show that 83.6 percent of businesses in the informal sector do not have enough savings to immunise themselves from shocks that come with events like the outbreak of a global pandemic.

Also, about 1 million Ghanaians earn a living in the informal sector – with the data revealing that medium-scale businesses constitute 1.46 percent, small being 18.38 percent and the micro being 79.7 percent.

From the data, Mrs. Obo-Nai believes that: “The Vodafone Business Runway is crucial, now more than ever, for us to deliberate and fashion-out innovative solutions and ideas that will help SMEs survive this pandemic and beyond.

“What should be evident at the end of this webinar is that all of us must come together as a united force for the good of SMEs, and how we can together contribute to Ghana’s socio-economic growth. Let me again use this platform to encourage SMEs to embrace and adopt modern trends to become a digitalised ‘Ready Business’, with more options to substantially increase business growth and productivity.”

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