Exchange rate fluctuation crippling SMEs – WISTA


By Christabel DANSO ABEAM

Gertrude Oheme-Asienim, President-Women in International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) Ghana, has lamented that the unstable exchange rate in the country continues to undermine the operations and financial stability of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

She pointed out that the diminishing of capital, low patronage, unsaleable goods and loss of income have become the primary challenges SMEs face due to constant exchange rate fluctuations.

“An unstable exchange rate is a big worry to SMEs, especially with importers. Individuals bring in goods with a certain capital, but unstable exchange rates affect clearance and duty fees at the port – which tends to increase the cost of products brought in,” she noted.

Speaking at a forum on empowering women-led enterprises in maritime and trade, organised by the United States Agency for International Development through the Feed the Future Ghana Trade and Investment (GTI) Activity and WISTA in Accra, she emphasised that SMEs also face challenges such as a low level of knowledge in using technology to reach a larger audience, identifying markets and implementing effective payment methods, among others.

“The world is moving digitally; therefore, it is necessary for SMEs to adopt new technologies, identify new markets and engage in networking,” she said.

However, she acknowledged the contributions made by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), indicating that it has provided a reliable payment platform to facilitate trade and help traders identify market opportunities.

Appealing to government, she advocated measures to resolve exchange rate instability and possibly reduce the cost of port clearance and duties.

The networking event was part of activities to commemorate International Day for Women in Maritime, Logistics and Trade.

The event, dubbed ‘Safe horizons: shaping the future of maritime safety’, brought together over a hundred women-owned business leaders and women from the maritime industry. The purpose was to exchange strategies and lessons learned for business expansion, aiming to stimulate collaboration, encourage innovation and contribute to the growth of women-led businesses.

Ms. Oheme-Asienim also revealed that WISTA plans to celebrate women who have been outstanding throughout their membership and elevated themselves to international platforms.

Addressing the gathering, Chief Director-Ministry of Transport, Mabel Sagoe, stated that the initiative is not just about promoting gender equality but also about bringing new perspectives, creativity and resilience to the table, driving innovation, job creation and economic growth.

“This objective ties perfectly with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 5, 8, 9 and 17,” she noted.

She stated that professional development initiatives, advocacy efforts and networking events like this can provide the necessary support for women in their fields of endeavour.

She further proposed that capacity-building, mentorship and the availability of networking opportunities would significantly influence women-led SMEs. She encouraged more partnerships with women’s groups such as WISTA and GTI, thus empowering more women to excel in trade and other business sectors.

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