Players in the startup and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector say government must prioritize the provision of catalytic investments into the Small and Medium Enterprise ecosystem to spur the growth of the sector in 2019.
Mr Nelson Amo, Chief Executive Officer of Innohub, a business accelerator and investment platform, told the GNA in an interview that, it was important for government to creatively unlock both private and public capital into the SME ecosystem to drive growth in the sector.
“Government can lead the conversation through providing catalytic investments into the ecosystem and incentivising the private sector (corporate institutions and high networth individuals) to channel investments into the MSME space,” he said.
He noted that 2018 had witnessed a boost in programmed Startup and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) space. These included the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Policy (NEIP) by government, the set-up of the Ghana Tech Lab and Ghana Innovation Hub, with funding from the Ministry of Communication, through the World Bank, and the organization of the first ever conference of the Ghana Hubs and Business Network, to consider how best intermediaries could position themselves to support startups and MSMEs.
Others were the GSG Impact Investment Summit, the Dutch government-funded Growing Business Together initiative, and several other initiatives funded by the GIZ such as the Republica conference and eSkills4Girls.
“These new initiatives created quite some good level of enthusiasm and energy within the startup ecosystem,” he noted, adding that, although government’s interventions such as the NEIP, were a good start, which fostered collaboration with existing hubs and incubators for the benefit of the ecosystem, they could go a step further.
Ms. Caroline Pomeyie, Chief Executive Officer of Lojaanor, a tech-enabled supply chain platform that ensures distribution of wholesome fish, said government must also ensure that existing systems work, as a basic way of creating the enabling environment needed in the sector.
Also, speaking to the GNA in an interview, she stated that there were many opportunities for startups in Ghana, however, several bottlenecks remained that needed to be addressed.
“There are many challenges in the public sector, that leveraging on the technological skills of the youth, we can transform. A lot has to do with data storage and processing, bureaucracy, access to information etc… these in themselves are bottlenecks,” she maintained.
She noted that if government fulfilled its word to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, it would enable young people to maximize the opportunities that exist within the country.
“We are not asking for so much, we are only demanding that the systems work; that we don’t get harassed at the border by our own Customs officers for no apparent reason; that we get documents we need processed in the shortest possible time, without the need to know someone in power.
Registrar General’s Department, passport office, licensing organisations, should work well. Once we have our institutions running efficiently and effectively, a lot of the challenges we face would be no more. And yes, the RTI bill should be passed,” she emphasised.”
She said opportunities existed, particularly in the agricultural, technical and the financial sectors that young people could take advantage of, given the enabling environment.
“For instance, the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, has indicated that we consume 900,000 metric tonnes of fish. Out of which the aquaculture sector produces only 50,000 metric tonnes, another 400,000 metric tonnes from the fisherfolk, the remaining is imported. This gives room for the country to produce more. In a country where there is a lot more import than export, proves there’s a lot of opportunities in almost every sector,” Ms Pomeyie stated.
Mr. Charles Nathaniel Abbey, General Secretary of the Association of Small Scale Industries, also acknowledged that the development of the MSME policy in 2018, was a good intervention which would provide the right environment for micro and small businesses to access support services such as business development, research and technology as well as affordable credit.
He however urged government to focus more on addressing challenges facing the sector, including access to credit, offering convenient and friendly services to small businesses, particularly those in the informal sector, and ensuring that lapses in telecommunications services were resolved.