Access Bank /Graphic Business SME Clinic benefits 6,500 enterprises : 3,000 Supported to digitalise

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Professor Godfred Bokpin — Economist and lecturer at the University of Ghana
Professor Godfred Bokpin — Economist and lecturer at the University of Ghana

A partnership between Access Bank and the Graphic Business newspaper to support the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country has so far impacted more than 6,500 enterprises across the country.

The collaboration seeks to provide interventions through funding and technical expertise to empower SMEs and help grow their businesses to enable them to contribute to economic development.

At the Access Bank-Graphic Business SME clinic in Takoradi in the Western Region, the Group Head, Business Banking of Access Bank, Kafui Bimpe, said the bank had so far supported SMEs in the country with GH¢50 million.

He said the loans were without collateral.

The SME Clinic, the third in a series, was on the theme: ‘Unlocking the potential of SMEs through digitalisation’.

The clinic has become a major platform created for SMEs to appreciate the need for them to be steadfast to grow and create opportunities for themselves and the economy as a whole.

“We have extended the tenure of repayment for the SMEs when they have challenges, and also given moratorium to others to be able to repay over a long term,” Mr Bimpe said.

He added that the bank had also helped over 3,000 SMEs to hook on to digital platforms in order to widen their reach.

Nature of SMEs

According to him, a report by the World Bank showed that 90 per cent of businesses were in the SME category, with over 50 per cent of employment created by them.

However, he said about 20 per cent of them collapsed within a year of their start-up, while 50 per cent of collapsed within the first five years, due to the lack of funding support and technical expertise to run the businesses.

Also, Mr Bimpe said, the COVID-19 hit SMEs hard, such that some were still grappling with the negative impact of the pandemic.

“SMEs are the motor of economic growth and an integral part of economic recovery.

“If they are provided with the needed support in digital solutions and funding, it will help them withstand the challenges they face,” he said.

Mr Bimpe added that SMEs needed the right information to be able to take the right decisions.

Job creation

An economist and lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Godfred Bokpin, said SMEs presented a huge opportunity to solve the unemployment problem in the country.

“There are challenges in every facet of life and it’s the same in managing businesses, but there are more efficient ways of managing them.

“No matter the size of a business, digital applications can be used to manage and expand that business,” he said.

Prof. Bokpin said the future of money itself, for which SMEs were working, was digitalisation and so digitalisation could not be overlooked.

Therefore, he said, no matter the size of businesses, entrepreneurs should try to understand how they could use digitalisation and digital applications (Apps) to manage them.

“The fact that you were born before computer does not necessarily mean that your business should not embrace digitalisation and use it to grow,” he said.

Digital funding

During a panel discussion, a Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Business Studies, Takoradi Technical University, Abigail Padi, said digitalisation offered an opportunity for business people to seek crowd funding to grow their businesses.

She said crowd funding was one of the key platforms in the country being used to raise money for SMEs and was regulated by the Bank of Ghana.

“Digitalisation has come to stay and so you need to leverage it to finance your businesses,” she told the participants.