Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have been advised to tap into advisory and other capacity building initiatives offered by banks to aid their development.
This message was the basis of a presentation by Charlotte Lily Baidoo, General Manager for SME Banking at Universal Merchant Bank (UMB), during the German Sparkassenstiftung Western Africa’s Business Clinic with Financial Service Providers on ‘Access to Finance for SMEs’, which was held at the Chartered Institute of Bankers campus in Accra.
The one-day workshop, organised largely by the German Sparkassenstiftung Western Africa, deliberated on how financial service providers can offer timely financial solutions and advisory services for SMEs through their uniquely designed service and product offering, with a specific panel discussion on how banks can support SMEs to access the needed capital to grow their businesses.
According to the World Bank and other think-tanks, SMEs account for over 70% of economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). A key trend in the development of SMEs worldwide is the increasing trend to enterprises operating in or being powered by what the World Economic Forum has termed the 4th Industrial revolution – that is Big Data, Augmented reality, Internet of Things, cloud computing, systems integration additive, autonomous systems, simulations and cyber security.
Universal Merchant Bank’s presentation focused on the bank’s bouquet of products specifically targetted at SMEs.
Charlotte Lily Baidoo, presenting for the bank noted: “UMB is very proud of its merchant banking heritage here in Ghana. Over the last 50 years, we have grown a significant number of businesses in Ghana and accumulated some experience in the SME sector. We notice that many SMEs do not avail themselves of the advisory services that banks offer. As your bank, we are essentially your free financial consultants and available to help SMEs structure their books and upscale their capacity. This is why at UMB we have developed the ‘Centre for Businesses’ concept, where SMEs can have the resources they need at a dedicated point. It is also why we are relaunching our SME clinics for SME customers to help deepen the knowledge that will lead to growth”.
In further comments Mr. Kafui Adoboe of German Sparkassenstiftung Western Africa, organiser of the event noted: “Partnering with banks, including UMB, is key; as in the end they are really at the frontline of all the support to SMEs. The German Sparkassenstiftung Western Africa is committed to SME growth through promoting digitisation, excellent book-keeping and product development. Digitisation is especially exciting, and it is interesting to see banks like UMB begin to open up their mobile app and other digital platforms to SMEs”.
Other banks that participated in the conference included Absa, Ecobank and CBG among others. Participants expressed their satisfaction with the forum’s timeliness.