Negotiating for survival – Bisap producers lead the way

Mr. Emmanuel Osei and Mrs. Constance Adu displaying Bisab samples

Constance Adu and Emmanuel Osei are members of the Bisap Producers and Sellers Association (BPSA) in Mankessim in the Central Region of Ghana.

Businesses of members were on the verge of collapse because of taxes and levies from different sub-agencies imposed on their business that were draining their profits.

Some members had even abandoned their business to avoid harassment from assembly authorities because they could not pay the daily toll.

The situation improved after the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund supported the BPSA to engage the Mfantseman Municipal Assembly and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to relook the daily toll imposed on petty traders within the municipality.

The reduction in the daily toll from between GHc1 and GHc2 a day to 50 Pesewas is helping members expand their business. Emmanuel has increased his Bisap production from 100 to about 300 bottles a day. He has had to engage an extra hand because of the increase in production.

“The cost of doing business has significantly reduced, and as such we can save some money to cater for domestic responsibilities”, said Emmanuel.

Bisap or Sobolo is a locally brewed soft drink that enjoys high patronage due to its medicinal properties. It is a lucrative source of livelihood for hundreds of men and women in the Central Region.

In 2017, the members of BPSA reached out to the BUSAC Fund for support to campaign for a well-defined parameter for computing taxes for micro-businesses to ensure an improved and enabling working environment.

The Fund organized an advocacy-training programme for members of BPSA to equip them with the requisite knowledge, skills and attitude needed to carry out the advocacy action successfully.

According to Constance, Chairperson of the Association, the advocacy training empowered members to engage with duty bearers. “We engaged the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Assembly to introduce transparent tax methods which our members will appreciate. We also urged them to do away with unexplained taxes and levies from different sub-agencies which was driving us out of business”, she stated.

Emmanuel attributed the increase in his production capacity as well as that of the other members to the support they received from the BUSAC Fund and its Development Partners DANIDA and USAID.

“We couldn’t have reached any favourable terms with the Assembly had it not been the advocacy training we received from BUSAC Fund and the financial support they gave us,” he alluded.

The advocacy action has brought credibility and recognition to the association. Membership has increased from 20 to 150 comprising of 120 females and 30 males. “Today we have yoghurt sellers and other petty traders who have come to join us because of the results we achieved for our members”, stated Constance.

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