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Adoption of digital tools key to SMEs survival

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
• Kafui Bimpe — Group Head for Business Banking, Access Bank Ghana

Adoption of digital tools has been proven to be beneficial for small and micro-businesses (SMEs) . In spite of this, there is a rift in digital tools adoption between large businesses and SMEs, especially in the area of e-commerce and cloud computing.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses from retail, manufacturing and service providers to re-evaluate their business models where the traditional “in-person” and “social” setting is the norm.

Unfortunately, many others could not leverage the opportunity, to an extent that they are still missing the opportunities in that space despite the huge potential to turn around their businesses.

In the country today, SMEs are no different, if not more desperate, for rethinking their business models in order to overcome the current crisis and similar future situations.

In the heat of the crisis, the government made inroads in training SMEs to adapt to the pandemic and that helped, but more still needs to be done.

It is against this background that Access Bank Ghana, since the beginning of the year, has focused on building the capacities of SMEs throughout the country.


Last week, the bank, known for its excellent relationship with SMEs in the country, drew the curtain on its 2022 series of capacity-building workshops for SMEs at the Ho Technical University in the Volta Region.

The workshop was on the theme: “‘Boosting Digital Skills for Emerging Opportunities”, in line with the bank’s commitment to support SMEs in the country to thrive.

Ahead of the workshop, the Managing Director of Access Bank Ghana, Olumide Olatunji, expressed delight in the impact the bank was making on the SME sector in the country.

He said, “We strongly believe that increased support to SMEs will translate into an improved socio-economic development of the country. SMEs are core to Ghana’s economy; therefore, supporting them to expand and grow will mean more jobs and more opportunities.”

To further contribute to building the sector, Mr Olatunji said, “We have developed a digital cash flow lending platform to grant SMEs easy access to funding in real time. As part of our support for the sector, Access Bank has developed a web mall that will give small businesses access to market beyond their geographical location.”

Nationwide

Delivering his opening remarks at the workshop, the Group Head for Business Banking at Access Bank Ghana, Kafui Bimpe, told participants that the SME capacity-building train had travelled the length and breadth of Ghana this year to engage with various SMEs on best solutions the bank could offer them.

“We have been to Tamale, Techiman, Kasoa, Takoradi, Koforidua and Ho in a bid to support SMEs’ growth,” he said.

He also noted that “SMEs form the bedrock of many developing countries, including Ghana. However, many SMEs across the globe struggle to survive because of the prevailing global happenings”.

He said there was an urgent need to mobilise local entrepreneurs to face the challenges of national development and channel their efforts towards sustained economic growth.

I agree with the assertion of Mugisha, SDG Integration Advisor at UNDP Africa, who noted that, “If businesses, especially SMEs, are provided with the needed support to adopt best practices, particularly in the use of digital solutions, it could go a long way to increase their productivity and resilience to future challenges.

“At Access Bank, we realise the need to equip SMEs to be better prepared for the current business trend. Our experience has shown that digitalisation offers tremendous opportunities to increase productivity and create jobs.”

Digital technology

A facilitator from Open Labs, Peniel Amankwah, who led participants through hands-on training on using digital skills, advised them to adopt digital technology in the running of their everyday businesses.

She noted that many SMEs were losing great opportunities because they were not technologically savvy.

She maintained that many underutilised the power of their smartphones, which were good tools to enhance their knowledge of new trends to business growth and expose them to more business ideas.

Ms Amankwah encouraged SMEs to make use of digital technology to remain relevant and be successful in their businesses.

Conclusion

As a go-to bank for SMEs, Access Bank has committed to its promise to provide more than banking to its valued customers.

The bank’s leadership and commitment towards SMEs in the country have been recognised by various awards, including Most Innovative SME Banking Brand by the Global Brands Magazine and Market Leader for SME Banking by the Euromoney Award.

Over the years, the bank has developed a deep understanding of its customers, delivering excellent products and services to empower them to achieve more through financial inclusion.