Only 28 per cent of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have benefitted from the number of policies and intervention programmes outlined by the government to support their growth, a report by the ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and supported by GIZ has shown.
The report is titled ‘Access to Justice and Public Services: Experiences of Medium and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana’, and covers between August and September 2020 focused on MSMEs in three regions – the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Northern Regions.
Of the 28 per cent, 22 per cent accessed the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA) COVID-19 alleviation programme business support scheme; 2 per cent accessed the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) micro-credit/group loan scheme; 2 per cent accessed the Business Advisory Centre services; 1 per cent accessed MASLOC’s small/individual loan scheme, and 1 per cent accessed government’s small business loan scheme.
Notwithstanding the low level of beneficiaries for these programmes, the report indicated that out of 780 MSMEs interviewed more than half of them confirmed they were fully aware of almost all government support policies meant for them.
The report also highlighted how disputes among MSMEs are resolved. This indicated clearly that disputes with family over the business, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) over the waste collection, among others, were not resolved through the legal system.
Chief among the reasons for which MSMEs do not use the police and law courts to seek resolutions to business-related disputes is lack of trust – with 87 percent indicating that they do not trust the police and law courts. Others, representing 10 percent of the MSMEs, stated that the court proceedings take too long for a case to be resolved – while police officers often demand money, gifts or favours before acting on a case.
The report advised that: “There is therefore a need for creating a mutually beneficial system, whereby government is able to bring these services to the doorsteps of MSMEs so they can easily access them”.
It further advised that support services being offered by government, MMDAs and other regulatory bodies should also be brought closer; and these institutions ought to assist MSMEs in a manner that makes efforts to access such support services much easier and more transparent.
With respect to accessing the formal justice system, it was recommended that there is a need to improve awareness of the court system and its service-delivery procedures. Also, much needs to be done to clear the overhanging mistrust for the system – while also working to reduce the time it takes for cases to be resolved. These, according to the report, when achieved will make the formal justice system more attractive to MSMEs.
Meanwhile, given some of the informal structures MSMEs adopt in resolving business-related disputes – like market association leaders and executives – it is encouraged that their capacity must be built on a mechanism of conflict resolution; so that in the short- to medium-term they can continue playing that mediating role to serve their members.