IIA pledges US$500 million to SMEs

A not-for-profit organisation, Invest In Africa (IIA), has pledged to provide US$500 million worth of business opportunities for Ghanaian Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)  in the next four years.

This forms part of a bid to accelerate growth of the SMEs in the country.

The organisation said that the investment will provide 100,000 jobs across the various sectors of the economy.

The Country Director of IIA, Mr Clarence Nartey, who made this known at the organisation’s 4th anniversary celebration in Accra on October 4, said IIA had always been committed to creating prosperity in the local economies in which it operated.

“We work with our network of cross-sector partners to co-ordinate private sector efforts to build local content, build the capacity and skills needed in the local economy for sustained growth and job creation,” he disclosed.

Challenges

Although SMEs were working hard to expand, Mr Nartey said the IAA had identified access to finance, skills and  markets as the three major challenges stagnating  growth of SMEs in the country and had, therefore, developed the capacity to help businesses to mitigate them.

“We have chosen to focus on three key needs of SMEs which are providing better access to markets, skills and finance which we consider as key to improve SMEs competitiveness in order to stimulate business growth, job creation and prosperity in the relevant local communities,” he mentioned.

Access to finance

Mr Nartey stated that access to finance had been a major challenge facing SMEs in the country primarily because lenders were skeptical about the ability of SMEs to pay back the loans they had accessed.

To reverse the trend and improve the chances of SMEs in accessing funds from financial institutions, Mr Nartey said IAA was “ working with our banking partners, Ecobank and GCB, and so far we have helped facilitate almost US$1 million of credit support to SMEs.”

He added that about 80 per cent of loan requests in terms of value facilitated in the first half of this year were approved by IIA’s banking partners which was an indication of the quality of SMEs in the organisation’s pool and the viability of their businesses.

On SMEs reaching a wider market, Mr Nartey said IAA had developed the first online marketplace in the country called Partner Pool which had connected 15 multi-national and local buyers to 1,500 suppliers.

“We have provided opportunities valued at US$150 million to Ghanaian SMEs registered on the African Partner Pool and the contracts range from direct to indirect service for supplying various products and services,” he said.

Socio-economic impact

As a local content solution provider, Mr Nartey noted that IAA was tracking the socio-economic impact and footprint of the organisation’s work in the country in order to serve SMEs better.

“We follow the money from contracts awarded to ensure it benefits the local economy and more than 70 per cent of the $150 million of contracts awarded has been retained in the country either through household income, savings, profits and taxes
“We have also supported 30,000 jobs across 10 sectors contributing to economic diversification and together with our partners, we have earned our social licence to operate in the local economy,” he said.

Source: Graphic Online

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