The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) has called on Ghanaian Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) to ‘break through the odds’ and contribute massively to the country’s COVID-19 era recovery.
Speaking at the maiden Esther Ocloo Lecture on African Entrepreneurship last Friday in Sekondi, Western Region, Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Ayeh said government attaches great importance to the development of MSMEs due to their economic importance in job creation and contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
A recent survey sanctioned by the GEA in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Project recorded about 84,592 MSMEs across the country. But only 5 percent of the aforementioned figure export their products – a development experts described as a major blow to Ghana’s ability to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), as the country ramps up its effort to recover from the debilitating effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Addressing the challenges for a resilient economy
Acknowledging the challenges bedevilling the sector during her address, Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh said in a bid to address the bottlenecks and help build a resilient economy, the GEA has put in place several interventions to develop and grow the MSME sector, and more specifically target the economic empowerment of women in Ghana.
“From 2017 to 2020, a total of 635,890 persons have benefitted from the various interventions by GEA, with more than 60 percent of the total beneficiaries being women. The support ranged from business formalisation, access to finance, productivity, access to markets, among others,” she stated.
“The Ghana Enterprises Agency further implemented several programmes and projects in the past to accelerate women’s economic empowerment. GEA, in partnership with its numerous partners, has been embarking on interventions to unleash the potential of MSMEs, especially women and the youth.
“One of such interventions we have is the Ghana Women Entrepreneurship Summit (GWES) platform to advance the women empowerment initiatives in Ghana. Through this, the agency has aligned MSME support systems to consider the needs of MSMEs owned by women. The GWES platform has also helped to expand GEA’s network of business associations including the creation of the Women Entrepreneurs Rise Network (WERise) with over 900 registered members.
“Other interventions have been the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS), where funds were disbursed to 277,511 beneficiaries, with 69 percent of them being women,” she added.
Touching on the maiden Esther Ocloo Lecture, Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh said the event was in line with government’s ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda, and it’s focus on transforming Ghana’s MSMEs into engines of economic growth.
She, therefore, commended the Chairman of Bisa Abrewa Museum for the brilliant idea, and the staff of GEA for working together with the Bisa Abrewa team to make the memorable lecture a reality.
Who’s Esther Ocloo?
The late Esther Afua Ocloo, a dynamic Ghanaian entrepreneur who, as a co-founder in 1979 and head of Women’s World Banking, pioneered the practice of micro-lending, providing tiny loans to small home-based businesses, usually those run by women in less-developed countries.
She was celebrated by the then first lady of the United States of America, Mrs. Hilary Clinton, who, as chairperson during the Beijing Women’s Conference in September 1995, was so fascinated by Ocloo’s entrepreneurial achievement that she invited her to join the high table.
Speaking during the lecture, Chairman, Bisa Abrewa Museum, Kwaw Ansah, said: “In celebrating Esther Ocloo, we celebrate and encourage women in general, and female industrialists and entrepreneurs, in particular.
“We celebrate their thrift which is manifested in their ability to get entire households going. The pennies and pesewas they saved have educated many a colossus in science and industry, business and politics. Our prayer is that from this two-day lecture and exhibition, the Ghanaian can-do spirit and initiative will rise again.”