Unleashing entrepreneurial skills, key to Ghana’s economic transformation – Alan Kyerematen

Launch of the Business Resource Centers (BRCs)
Launch of the Business Resource Centers (BRCs)

Speaking at the launch of the Business Resource Centers (BRCs) on Monday, 27th June, 2022 at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan K. Kyerematen, challenged individuals to start up their own business ventures in order not to be found wanting after retirement.

He indicated that, many countries, especially in the Europe, Asia, and North America, developed their economies by critically looking into the building of strong MSMEs from family-owned businesses into multinational companies we see today.

Noting that, while these countries have experienced significant economic transformation by paying critical attention to the development of the MSMEs sector, our entrepreneurs and private sector operators continue to face serious challenges which successive Governments have made attempts to overcome.

This according to him, was the reason why the ministry had since 2017, been implementing a comprehensive industrial transformation programme to make the country the new manufacturing hub in Africa.

Mr. Alan Kyerematen, emphasized that, “the great nations of this world are not where they are because of their natural resource endowments. If that were the case, countries like Singapore and South Korea would be the poorest countries in the world and Africa would be the richest. They are great because of their commitment to the development of entrepreneurs.

He stressed that, “If the only answer to export revenue mobilisation is proceeds from the export of cocoa, then we may have a problem in this country. We have been depending on the export revenues of cocoa and gold for over a century now. It must occur to us that we have to move beyond cocoa. We should mobilize MSMEs to produce for export.”

The sector Minister said, many are the MSMEs in the country that are unable to take advantage of the international trade agreements signed with leading economies in the world due to some challenges, such as the high cost of credit, weak production and retail infrastructure, low technology adaptation, and inadequate market information.

The Minister further disclosed that, about 80 per cent of employment generated in the country comes from MSMEs, which calls for the need for the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Ghana to put together a no-guarantee scheme that would ease liquidity in the banks to support the development of MSMEs in the country.

Mr. Kyerematen, therefore, underscored the need for government drive the public sector to provide institutional support and additional development services for MSMEs, in order for them to also start paying taxes that would help deal with the problem of low revenue mobilisation in the country.

The BRC, which is strategically located across 67 districts in the country, is a one-stop enterprise support centre designed to provide Business Development Services (BDS) to new and existing entrepreneurs and enterprises.

The centres which also serve as finance and investment facilitation hub and information repository was established by the Ministry of Trade and Industry under the Rural Enterprise Programme (REP) with funding from the Government, the African Development Bank (AFDB) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Mr. Kyerematen, however seized the opportunity to announce that, the newly established BRCs will be operated and managed under a Franchise arrangement with Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) as the Franchisor and private sector operators as Franchisees.

Saying, “in preparation for this, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has supported REP and GEA to develop Franchise Models, Standard Operating Procedures and Systems for the management and operations of the BRCs.

In addition, GEA and its institutional partners are implementing the MSME Policy designed in 2020 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to ensure that the right ecosystem exists to provide high quality support services to all MSMEs at the District level.”

The National Director, Rural Enterprise Programme (REP), Mr. Kwasi Attah-Antwi, also expatriated that, the Rural Enterprises Programme, was initiated in Ghana in1995 in 2 districts only. Over the years, and in phases, it has expanded in scope and activities to cover more districts. From two to thirteen (13) districts under Phase One (1995 – 2002) in the then Brong Ahafo and Ashanti regions only with funding from GOG and IFAD.

He noted that, phase two covered 66 districts across the country with funding support from GOG, IFAD and AFDB, and now 161 official districts are participating in the current programme phase which started in 2013 with funding support from GOG, AfDB and IFAD.

Mr. Kwasi Attah-Antwi, expressed that, “the biggest achievements of the Rural Enterprises Programme is the huge innovative institutional legacy that is being bequeathed this country, at both district, regional and national levels for the promotion of business development services, engineering technology development, industrialization, among others, particularly in the rural areas of Ghana.

Accordingly, under Business Development Services component of REP, 161 Business Advisory Centres, now referred to as GEA district offices have been established through a tripartite arrangement with the respective host District Assemblies and the Ghana Enterprises Agency, formerly the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).

The main functions of the BACs include upgrading the technical and entrepreneurial skills of rural MSMEs, to enable them ultimately, increase their incomes and also create wealth.”

He further noted that, “Under the current phase of REP, these centres have collectively contributed to the establishment of over 93,031 new businesses and the creation of 153,275 direct jobs, as of December 2021.

They continue to offer such services under the interventions offered by GEA and other MDAs NGOs and Development Partners as and when necessary
Hon. Minister, It will be recalled that in 2017, under your able leadership and guidance, the Rural Enterprises Programme was realigned to undertake activities that were consistent with the Government of Ghana’s industrial transformation agenda, spearheaded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

Your vision was shared and readily agreed with us and the co-financiers of REP namely, African Development Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

This was timely since REP had just undertaken a joint Mid Term Review that called for new ways to sustain the outcomes of Programme intervention.

Under the Business Development component of the Programme, you proposed 3 key activities that were necessary to keep the MSME sector better managed on more sustainable basis.

The first was for REP to facilitate and support the establishment of the MSME Policy for the country which had been initiated by MOTI.

Second was for REP to provide active support for the Institutional strengthening and also the transformation of the National Board for Small-scale Industries (NBSSI) into the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA).

Closely linked to this was a third task, a complete innovation, which is the establishment of Business Resource Centres (BRCs) to serve as new enterprise Support Centres under the GEA.

BRCs were to be established in strategic locations in the country, and operate as one stop shop for business development, financial and investment facilitation hubs, and business information repositories for MSMEs in their catchment areas.

After committing to these laudable dreams and the Government’s agenda through MOTI, the 2 co-financiers African Development Bank and IFAD arranged with the MOF, MOTI and REP Management for the needed resources for the new direction and activities that would enhance the achievement of the programme in the country.

This resulted in an additional funding of 40m US Dollars for REP provided by IFAD, part of which was carved out to support the Institutional strengthening and transformation of NBSSI into a new Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA).

IFAD also committed to establish 30 Business Resource Centres (currently on going). AfDB on the other hand agreed to reallocate its resources for REP to convert some 7 Resource Centres into BRCs and then finance the construction of 30 more BRCs bringing the total to 37.

As you are aware we are proud and happy to state here that all 3 main tasks assigned REP in 2017, emanating from the dream of our Hon. Minister, have been achieved to a large extent.”

Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, who is the Chief Executive Officer of GEA, said the BRCs serves as great assets for the country’s economic growth and development, as they would provide quality direct implementation support for MSMEs in the country, for its sustainability.

She expressed, their commitment to ensuring that the necessary tools to aid them function as expected would be made available.

Sheila Enyonam Akyea, the Senior
Transport Engineer at AfDB, noted that, the BRCs would greatly support youth and female-owned businesses and as well as develop the skills towards the 1D1F initiative.

She also disclosed that all resources that went into the establishment of the centers in order to develop the rural areas were used appropriately.

Mr Hani El Sadani, the Country Director of IFAD, also noted that, they have made provision of loans and grants worth USD397 million for projects and programmes worth over USD1 billion, for supporting the country over the past four decades.

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