President for Seed Transformation Network (STN) Ghana chapter, Linda Yaa Ampah, has said businesses which do not reposition themselves in anticipation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCFTA) that commences on January 1, 2020 run the risk of ‘drowning’.
She said this at the Stanford STN business conference held in Accra under the theme ‘Embracing forced change within diverse cultures’.
Speaking to the media, she stated that businesses that do not work on the mindset of their leaders and staff by adapting new and creative business models, among other measures, are going to sink.
“Our markets are going to be opened to the whole of Africa, literally. At least for now, about 30 countries have already ratified the agreement; so, we need to prepare ourselves as business leaders to scale-up and take advantage. There are several advantages here, but if you don’t position yourselves well then it is going to be a disadvantage to you, because the market is going to be flooded with other goods coming in,” she said.
She went on to list a number of challenges facing businesses in the country: including barriers to accessing finance; the high cost of borrowing, when available; and for companies affiliated to the STN, she cited a scarcity of suitable-for-the-role human resources as a key challenge, a factor she attributes to the current educational set-up.
“We are getting people trained by the universities, and you realise that they do not fit into the roles and are unable to deliver on expectation. We see that there is a gap between academia and industry; we hope that going forward there will be some sort of partnership between the universities and industry, so students will be trained to be ready to deliver on the various opportunities which will be given after education,” she added.
Additionally, Ms. Ampah stressed the need for business leaders and regulators to work together, saying: “I honestly believe that regulators, in some cases when they come into your business, can actually help you to put things in the right order; and if business leaders see them as such, our businesses will do very well”.
Seed is a Stanford Graduate school of business -led initiative that is working to end the cycle of global poverty. They partner with entrepreneurs in emerging markets to build thriving enterprises that transform lives.