Deputy Trade Minister launches second edition of Ghana Women Entrepreneurs Summit

Accra Deputy Trade Minister, Mr Robert Ahomka-Lindsay has launched the second edition of the Ghana Women Entrepreneurs Summit (GWES 2020) with a call on women to formalize their businesses and adopt online trading to survive the competition.

He said for the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to survive and progress in the coming years, formalization and online trading were non-negotiable.

Mr Ahomka-Lindsay said the move would open up businesses to a wider market and remove limits created by geographical jurisdiction.

“This area of trade and commerce has not had much attention. As women, let’s prove once again that we can do it and be better at it. Let’s show that once again, we are the cornerstone to Ghana post COVID-19 economic recovery strategy,” he said.

Mr Ahomka-Lindsay said the outbreak of COVID-19 presented a challenge to many female-led and female-owned businesses in Ghana.

He praised the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) for the attention to women businesses in line with the government’s vision in the provision of stimulus packages under the Coronavirus Alleviation Program for Business (CAP BuSS).

Thus far, the data reflects that about 110,000 women-led and women-owned MSMEs have received assistance from the CAP BuSS program.

He said the recent NBSSI and the Mastercard Foundation program on assisting resilient MSMEs was also positively biased towards women.

“It is expected that about 70 per cent of beneficiaries would be female-owned and female-led. I am convinced that such a strategy is the surest way to post COVID-19 economic recovery,” he said.

Mr Ahomka-Lindsay said the summit sought to unveil the innovative abilities of female entrepreneurs to harness and improve the untapped potentials in the area of job creation and economic growth.

GWES 2020 seeks to strengthen the contribution of women to Ghana’s economy, assess the policies and programs of government from a female perspective, and create sustainable networks that can draw resources to women entrepreneurs, advocate for a change in negative social norms that impede the progress of women, and highlight digitization to promote the advancement of female enterprises.

“While the number of women in active growth sectors of the economy has increased significantly, few challenges linger; access to credit and the lending rate, traditional barriers to growth and business ownership, etc. It is for these factors and manner others that make this summit relevant.

Another key reason for this summit is the need to rethink our style of engaging in business. COVID-19 has taught us all that “resilience is the new progress”.

Only enterprises that showed resilience survived the turbulence of the pandemic. Businesses had to close for months, workers had to be laid off, and balancing the books became increasingly difficult.

Mrs. Anna Armo- Himbson, Deputy Executive Director, said while COVID-19 presented a set of challenges, it had also unveiled certain prospects and opportunities that businesses, especially women-owned and women-led businesses, can capitalise on.

She said digitization had open doors of opportunities for many businesses to survive.

“They were resilient because they digitized. They had registered their companies, traded online and made their products and services available by pressing just a button. I submit to you that as “Resilience is the new progress”, “Digitization is also the new Resilience.”

“With many more Ghanaians desiring contactless services coupled with the proliferation of phone technologies in Ghana, the future of the market will be on phones and the time to be a market leader in this space is now,” she added.

“This market currently boasts of about 2.5 million traders creating about GHC 1.5 billion in GDP. This number is estimated to increase to about GHC 5 billion with 5 million traders in the next 5 years. This market has endless opportunities. And, it is only made possible by digitization.”

She said the recent experiences with the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS) re-enforced the need to assist Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to go digital.

Though over 240,000 MSMEs have benefitted from the CAP BuSS stimulus package, the exercise exposed major flaws in our traditional management of MSMEs; Many businesses did not have bank accounts while others applied using wrong mobile money numbers.

A good number of business owners did not have Tax Identification Numbers (TIN). Many used the TIN belonging to relatives and that rendered their applications invalid.

“At this point, the NBSSI is convinced that assisting MSMEs to go digital is not negotiable. It will make it easy for business owners to attract support from the government and other development agencies.

It will open them up to bigger markets and greater market opportunities. I hope that Digitization and resilience will take a centre stage in this summit.

The GWES is being held in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works Project on the theme: “Ghana Women Entrepreneurs the Cornerstone of Economic Resilience.”

Source: Ghana News Agency