UNDP, Absa Bank initiate MSMEs Challenge to empower businesses

Economics Challenge Launch
Participants during the launch

An Innovation Challenge to build the capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise owners (MSMEs) through financial grants to scale up their businesses has been launched.

The challenge is an initiative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Absa Bank and coordinated by EMPRETEC Ghana.

It involved a three-day training for 300 MSMEs in diverse trades across six Metropolitan, Municipal and Districts Assemblies, including Ketu South, Jomoro, Sefwi-Wiawso, Kumasi, Kassena-Nankana West, and Sagnarigu.

Dr Edward Ampratwum, the Head of Inclusive Growth and Accountable Governance Cluster at UNDP, at the launch, said the UNDP understood the value that MSMEs add to Ghanaian businesses, and considered it a worthy course to be involved in their empowerment.

He said, “Through our data works, we understand that MSMEs are dominated by women and youth, and they contribute significantly to the business environment in Ghana, and we want to make sure that no one is left behind.”

Mr Ampratwum noted that MSMEs lacked the necessary support that the partnership sought to provide, adding the initiative had a link to all the Sustainable Development Goals.

Madam Audrey Abakah, Director for SME, Agency Banking and Partnership at Absa Bank Ghana, said the bank had been SME-focused for many years and appreciated the potentials of MSMEs.

She said the bank had the drive to empower the future of Africa, hence the partnership with UNDP to provide financial support to the MSMEs at reduced interest rates.

She explained that Absa was the first bank in Ghana to develop SME loans on an interest of 10 per cent per annum, with the collaborative effort of Mastercard Foundation.

Mr Dunwull Ekow Eku, the Chief Executive Officer of EMPRETECH Ghana, said the country had many potentials that were explored more by foreigners than citizens, and called on businesses to be innovative to venture into exploring such available potentials.

He urged beneficiary MSMEs to take the initiative seriously, saying “Innovation is the way to go and whatever the world needed is available in Africa.”

Participating MSMEs shared some insights, underscoring the importance of the partnership on their businesses.

Miss Naa Kwaley Richardson, a beneficiary, said her enterprise observed best practices to attract investor interest, drawing lessons from post-harvest losses in fruits and vegetables due to transportation and low patronage.

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