Fidelity Bank, MDF West Africa train SMEs on international trade navigation

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Fidelity Bank Ghana, has, in collaboration with MDF West Africa, organised a training programme on international trade navigation for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country.

It forms part of the Bank’s SME-focused measures to enable businesses to adapt swiftly and navigate the global challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is also the MasterCard Foundation’s sponsored MSMEs COVID-19 Recovery and Resiliency Program (MCRRP), which aims to support MSMEs to sustainably diversify their business lines and/or enter new markets.

Speaking at the opening session of the training, Mr Gustav Nii Ayi Mokobi Aryee, Head of Commercial Banking at Fidelity Bank Ghana, said commercial businesses and MSMEs were a critical segment of the economy, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the global supply chain system and by extension, international trade where MSMEs mostly operated.

“However, we are confident that by equipping our partner MSMEs with the relevant know-how and expertise regarding critical developments in the international trade arena, they will be sufficiently armed to strategise effectively and continue to grow their businesses in spite of the challenges posed by the pandemic,” he said.

The various subject matters covered included international trade payment methods and their associated risks; opportunities available in the international trade business, and understanding the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) new clearing process.

The MCRRP has Pyxera Global as the implementing partner for coordination and quality control with MDF West Africa providing digitisation, online and virtual resources, and other Business Development Services (BDS) support.

Madam Julia W. Anyanewaa Appiah, Project Manager, MDF West Africa Limited who elaborated on the training, said the exercise was geared towards increasing the operational capacity of MSMEs, empowering them to continue operating at or even above pre-COVID-19 levels and ensuring that MSMEs maintained or expanded employment levels in spite of the pandemic.

“Ultimately, the goal is to build capacity among participant MSMEs to enable them to become more resilient to current and future shocks or stressors,” she added.

She assured the participants that they would be enrolled on the MCRRP platform to ensure that their companies enjoyed all benefits associated with the programme.

Mr Aaron Ameyaw, Head, Corporate and Transactional Banking Operations of Fidelity Bank Ghana, advised MSMEs to close the trade gap by adopting e-channels like the Fidelity Mobile App, Cheque Scanner, and Fidelity’s Corporate Internet Banking platform.

He also urged MSMEs to take advantage of interventions such as Fidelity’s trade loans to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their operations and to assist in expediting their return to buoyancy.

Mr Raymond Amaglo, and Lipton S. Baffour, representatives from Ghana Link Network Services Limited, also trained participants on the Integrated Customs Management System (ICUMS) Project.

The ICUMS Project is a Government-sponsored initiative where a single service provider has been commissioned to develop and implement an end-to-end automated trade facilitation and customs management system.

Mr. Amaglo encouraged MSMEs to take advantage of the system as it reduced the time and cost of doing business for importers and exporters.

Over 70 MSMEs participated in the maiden training session. Representatives of selected MSMEs who were interviewed after the programme, expressed satisfaction with the session.

Fidelity Bank and MDF West Africa are expected to hold two more training sessions in the ensuing months with a focus on training more MSMEs on international trade and the various digital platforms available to enable them to address the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Other partners of the MCRRP are: Scale up Africa, Global Mamas, and J. A. Venture Capital Investments.

The first session of the roadshow under the theme, “How to Navigate the International Trade Business Landscape in the Midst of COVID-19”, was held at the Golden Bean Hotel in Kumasi, Ghana.

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