British High Commissioner to Ghana, Harriet Thompson, has urged small and growing businesses (SGBs) – especially green start-ups – to capitalise on climate finance.
Speaking at the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) conference 2023 held in Accra, the High Commissioner advocated sustainable business practices – urging SGBs to take advantage of climate financing opportunities to drive growth.
She explained that, globally, climate change has become a pressing issue for governments, international institutions and private sector investors who have recognised the need to mobilise funds toward sustainable and climate-resilient projects. This has led to the emergence of various climate financing mechanisms aimed at supporting businesses that prioritise environmental sustainability.
Climate financing offers numerous benefits including financial support to implement sustainable projects and initiatives, such as renewable energy systems, energy-efficient technologies, waste management solutions and green infrastructure development, he elaborated.
“In partnership with ANDE, we are discussing and promoting the role of small and growing businesses in delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); because, as it stands now, we are not on track to meet the 2023 goals we set as a global community.
“Small and growing businesses have an important role to play in helping meet these goals. They are the engine of growth in Ghana and most developing countries of Africa. They have already contributed so much to Ghana’s economy by creating jobs; and if they can grow, then they can do so much more than we see now,” she said.
She therefore emphasised that SGBs, particularly environmentally-friendly businesses, must capitalise on the various available funds to get back on track for the drive toward attaining the SDGs and addressing global warming.
She stressed that while many organisations may consider climate financing as exclusively available to large corporations or projects, it is essential for small and growing businesses to recognise that they, too, can access these funding opportunities.
Director for Retail and Digital Services, Access Bank Ghana, Pearl Nkrumah, on her part seconded that SGBs – popularly referred to in Ghana as small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) – have a crucial role to play; and said the bank has over the past few years committed about GH₵500million to the support of these businesses, and will continue to do so going forward.
“What we also do with regard to the SDGs is empower women because we believe they have a key role to play; so, we give them the necessary enabling platform to survive and take up leadership positions.
“We believe one of the most important forms of assistance to SMEs is developing the value chain and connecting them to the right network, which we do through capacity building in partnership with other stakeholders,” she said.
Also, climate financing often comes with technical assistance and capacity-building programmes to enhance businesses’ understanding and implementation of sustainable practices. This support can help organisations navigate complex requirements and ensure the successful execution of sustainable projects.
The conference, themed ‘Accelerating action: Small business solutions and the SDGs’, aims to showcase the remarkable progress made thus far, and identify the pathways to support SGB ecosystems on their journey to enhance their contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next seven years.