A new stimulus package meant to cushion micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) from the negative impact of COVID-19 will be launched today.
With an initial commitment of GH¢90 million, the new COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme is to provide financial assistance in the form of grants and soft loans through participating institutions such as banks, fintechs, mobile lenders and business development services.
The programme — dubbed 'Nkosuo' — is an initiative of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSl) and the Mastercard Foundation.
It is to focus on sectors such as agriculture and agro-businesses, water and sanitation, healthcare and pharmaceuticals, garment and personal protective equipment, creative arts, manufacturing, and food and beverages.
The Executive Director of the NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, who made this known to the media in Accra yesterday, said about 25,000 businesses had been projected to benefit from the programme.
She observed that applicants could request up to GH₵25,000.
She said the programme provided financial assistance in the form of grants and loans with an interest rate of three per cent payable within two years after a moratorium of one year.
“With an initial commitment of GH₵90 million from the Mastercard Foundation, it will provide financial assistance in the form of grants and soft loans via participating institutions such as banks, fintechs mobile lenders and business development services.
“This amount and type of financial support that will be provided to eligible qualified MSMEs, both in the formal and informal sectors, will vary depending on the size of the enterprise, their need and repayment capacity,” she said.
The executive director noted that the programme would focus on supporting MSMEs that needed help to survive the impact of the COVlD-19 pandemic.
She said the programme would also be concentrated on businesses in growth sectors where the employment of young people, especially young women, were being impacted negatively as a result of business operation disruptions, supply chain challenges, liquidity shortages, declining sales and profits and business closures.
She said it would focus on firms providing services that had the potential to meet the growing demands of communities during and after the pandemic.
“It will focus on companies that will focus on digitisation to support MSMEs,” she added.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh admitted that the pandemic had challenged the world's economic system and every country had felt its brute force.
She said in Ghana, the impact had included the closure of businesses, increased cost of production, forced employers to cut wages and in some cases, laid off workers.
“The biggest casualties are MSMEs, especially those in the informal sector which constitutes about 80 per cent of the productive sector of the Ghanaian economy.
“The government responded with the introduction of an alleviation programme for businesses which has been hugely beneficial to the sector.
“The Nkosuo programme will complement government's intervention and contribute to the collective effort to enable businesses, particularly MSMEs, to recover from the economic shock of the pandemic.
“We are grateful to the Mastercard Foundation for this timely partnership and programme,” she added.