By: Anthony Sedzro
The first ever Ghana SME CEO’s summit has been launched on the theme “Scaling-up SMEs for inclusive growth: The CEO and government as drivers”, with a call on government to pay attention to Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (SMEs) sector to create jobs and boost the economy.
At a well-attended media launch at the Kempinski Gold Coast City Hotel in Accra on July 17, various speakers lauded the Ghana SME CEO summit initiative as timely and deserving of a sector that is largely under-served.
The Managing Director (MD) of Fidelity Bank Ghana Limited, Jim Baiden, who chaired the event said SMEs make up the largest component of businesses in Ghana and the largest contributor to economic growth.
“The contribution of SMEs to Ghana’s economic development is very significant and yet seriously understated and not really appreciated by many,” Jim Baiden stated.
“The [SME] sector makes up 92% of all registered companies in Ghana, and contributes as much as 70% to Ghana’s GDP. Indeed if the private sector has been described as the engine of growth for the economy then I’ll say that SMEs are the fuel that propel the engines,” the Fidelity Bank MD added.
He also said the country’s current focus on having an industrialised economy is hinged on SMEs, noting that the sector is going to be the biggest growth centre of the economy.
President Nana Akufo-Addo launched a National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP) for small businesses in Ghana last week, with a seed capital of US$10 million. Baiden revealed that for every cedi of that US$10 million seed capital that passes through Fidelity Bank, the bank will match it with another one cedi, to double the seed capital of US$10 million.
Mathew Agyei-Boadu, the CEO of Oasis Capital, an indigenous Ghanaian finance company, said that Oasis Capital since launching in 2010 has been able to grow its turnover by more than five times its initial turnover and thus saw SMEs as the engine of growth. He advised CEOs of SMEs to employ the right human resources to build their businesses as human resource is the most important one in the SME setup, not access to capital as often suggested.
The SME CEO summit is the brainchild of Ernest De-Graft Egyir, the CEO of the Chief Executives Network Ghana Limited, organisers of the reputable annual Ghana CEOs Summit. He revealed that the Ghana SME CEOs summit will take place in November this year and the theme was chosen due to the existing gap in the market regarding SMEs which are under-served.
De-Graft Egyir said the current economic growth figures do not translate into jobs and wealth distribution because SMEs are not given the needed attention.
“…Ghana’s economic growth (overall real GDP-including oil growth of 6.3%) is a classic case of growth that has failed to be “inclusive”, a term to describe economic growth with widest participation and benefits, best ensured through equal opportunities,” De-Graft Egyir disclosed.
“How can a 6.3% GDP growth rate fail to translate into a commensurate reduction in poverty and up scaling SMEs?,” he asked rhetorically. “It all boils down to economic expansion with insufficient job creation due to no up-scaling of the local services and manufacturing sectors.”
He said the summit in November, which will feature an exhibition of local SMEs, will comprise panel discussions, plenary sessions, open fora and networking sessions to bring the SME CEOs and government together.
Contributing, Kosi Yankah, the Executive Director of the National Board for Small-scale Enterprises (NBSSI) said about 90 percent of businesses in Ghana are SMEs and they need scaling up so the summit is a welcome one and the theme enthuses the NBSSI. She further added that NBSSI has 173 district offices across the country and has trained more than 4,000 SMEs this year alone.
The NBSSI boss disclosed that SMEs in Ghana cannot work in secret silos anymore and they need to work together and the summits intention of bringing SMEs and government together needs the support of all.