Digitalisation and Capital, pivotal to sustaining SMEs in COVID-19 era

Economics Sme Clinic
Sme Clinic

With the Coronavirus pandemic impacting on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)some entrepreneurs at a panel discussion have advocated an ease in capital acquisition and digitilisation as the armour for sustaining their businesses.

SMEs are the backbone of Ghana’s economy from pre-colonial times to date, contributing nearly 70 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but are the hardest hit by the pandemic with uncertain future, if stringent measures were not sought to cushion them.

Speaking at the second edition of the Access Bank/Graphic Communications Group Limited engagement with SMEs in Kumasi on Wednesday, Dr Boris Badu, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Boris B. Farms, said the inability of businesses to create a real-time ambience for their goods and services following the COVID-19 outbreak prompted them to turn to effective digital marketing techniques to stay afloat.

The engagement which was streamed online, was aimed at equipping SMEs with digital solutions as a strategy to adapt to emerging market demands arising amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It was held on the theme: “Championing the growth of SMEs through digitalization – Madwuma Mpontuo”.

The business mogul, said the success of businesses depended heavily on financial support received by business owners and called on financial institutions to ease the burden of businesses, by making access to credit flexible.

He also stressed the need to substantially reduce imports and promote exports while increasing domestic production of poultry to correct the Country’s balance of payments deficit, create employment to increase revenue to stimulate economic growth.

With respect to the issue of frozen chicken, Mr Badu regretted the country’s penchant to spend millions of dollars, importing poultry, “yet our poultry farmers have the capacity to produce poultry to feed this country.

“What is more encouraging is the fact that we have the capacity to develop a new value chain for poultry farming which includes processing, sales and marketing and even consider exports. “We can do a lot for this nation, if banks support us”, he added.

Mr Badu also stressed the importance of business documentation as a leading factor to the successes of businesses, and noted that the lack of it prevented many entrepreneurs from accessing government stimulus packages for the poultry industry to help stimulate the Country’s economy.

The Commercial Manager of IPay, Mr. Kojo Lartey, a panel member of the SME Clinic, noted that, access to capital was pivotal for businesses to succeed and commended Access bank for its innovative digital solutions to businesses.

Mr Joseph Albert Quarm, the CEO of Prof Quarm Publications reiterated the easiness in accessing finance as key and emphasised the importance of employing digitalization for business communication adding that virtual communication had become the standard for running businesses efficiently.

He also called on business owners to take keen interest in documentation, regular assessment of business progress, diversification and digitilisation to sustain their businesses and pleaded with business owners to take succession plans seriously, to ensure business continuity when owners were no longer in active service.

Mr Baba Adams, the CEO of B. Adams Trading Enterprise Limited, cautioned business owners to be vigilant and take precaution as they entered into the digital space.

“Digitalization is great but be cautious of the digital space, as many fraudulent activities take place there”, he warned and urged them to use recommended digital solutions to prevent being exposed to such fraudulent acts.

Mr Seth Twum Akwaboah, CEO of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) called on businesses to strategically position themselves to benefit from every opportunity they were exposed to, noting that, “Challenges were bound to come but a business which strategically position itself always emerge the victor”.

Mr Twum Akwaboah encouraged business owners to seek support from the appropriate quarters whenever they faced challenges in their businesses.

Mr. Kenneth Adjei-Fah, Manager for Adum Ghana Revenue Authority, a panelist, outlined GRA’s digital platforms and guided participants, through the processes of filing and making tax payments, at the comfort of their homes.

Delivering his welcoming address for the event, Mr Stephen Abban, the Divisional Head of Retail Banking at Access Bank Ghana praised the outstanding contributions of SMEs to the mainstay of Ghana’s economy.

He indicated that more than 90 percent of registered jobs in the country were SMEs, providing over 80 percent jobs to people.

For that matter, he said Access Bank was determined to champion the growth of SMEs through the provision of innovative digital solutions to keep businesses relevant, thriving and competitive.

The Divisional Head of Retail Banking advised business owners to adopt digitalization, get the right advisory services and explore new opportunities available.

“Access Bank has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainable business practices, driving profitable and sustainable growth that is environmentally responsible and socially relevant since its inception”, he indicated.

Paramount chief of Domeabra, who represented the President of the Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs, Baffour Owusu Bediako, thanked the Bank and Graphic Communications, for ensuring Kumasi benefitted from the clinic.

He advised participants to heed to every advice received from the clinic and take advantage of such platforms to grow their businesses.

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