Mr. Alhassan Andani, Managing Director of Stanbic Bank, has cautioned up-and-coming small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with business ideas not to rush to commercial banks for financial assistance, as they could stifle their ideas.
“Be careful who you talk to about your business ideas; because while people may come up with ideas that can change the world, they (the ideas) can be killed when they take the wrong approach by walking straight into a commercial bank for financial support.
“The financial world has a wide spectrum of actors with distinct roles and responsibilities. There are firms who are into venture capital, commercial bankers, equity investors, and business advisory services; so, as an SME with a unique idea at the formative stage, it is important to know the right player to serve your need,” he stated.
Speaking on the topic ‘Innovative Financial Service for Business and SME’s Development’ at a symposium held at the University of Ghana, Mr. Andani suggested that SMEs looking for financial support should use their limited resources, and borrow from family or friends to translate their dreams into reality.
The commercial banks will ask for requirements like collateral, business financial records over a period: “How can a new SME trying to translate an idea into product or service meet these benchmarks?” asked Mr. Andani, who is also President of the Ghana Bankers Association.
The Managing Director of Stanbic Bank noted that commercial banks are mostly interested in supporting established businesses to scale-up products and services, and encouraged the youth to take advantage of the country’s low-hanging fruit – especially in the agriculture and service sectors – to reduce imports and grow the economy.
“Is it not surprising and disgraceful that we actually import onions, eggs, chicken, mutton? You just go to Nsawam Road and you will see trucks from Burkina Faso bringing onions. Let us take farming as a serious business and start producing the basic food we need,” Mr. Andani advised.
The President of the Ghana Bankers Association said the skills and competency to grow these basic high-yielding and profitable foodstuffs are available – recommending the clustering of farmers to produce in turn so that they can supply all-year-round.
“I am a farmer; I grow maize, rice and keep livestock, so I know what I am talking about,” he said.