With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in unprecedented ways, digitalisation emerged as a knight in shining armour for businesses.
The inability of businesses to create a real-time ambience for their goods and services during virus shutdowns prompted them to turn to effective digital marketing techniques to stay afloat.
Ghana has largely contained the virus of the spread relative to other developed countries on the back of its aggressive campaign to discourage social gatherings.
However, the global picture demonstrates that the pandemic is far from over even despite the vaccine rollouts. Therefore, the reliance on the digital landscape especially for SMEs is crucial for survival of businesses in this era.
It was for this reason why the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) secured €1.5 million grant from the German Development Agency (GIZ) to help digitise the operations of 500 SMEs.
The initiative being implemented in partnership with the Digital Transformation Centre is to provide small businesses with digital solutions as a strategy to adapt to emerging market demands arising amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dubbed, “COVID-19 SME Innovation and Digitalisation Support Scheme,” the initiative is expected to provide Ghanaian SMEs with digital solutions as a strategy to adapt to emerging market demands brought about by the virus.
This partnership will support the digitalisation of up to 500 growth-oriented SMEs, which will in turn help sustain at least 1600 jobs provided by these businesses.
With this, the implementers want to keep these businesses alive and strengthen their resilience as the COVID-19 rages, thereby sustaining jobs.
Across the world
Across the world, governments and donor agencies have had to restructure their budgets and funding options and realign their priorities to ensure that the economies of the world do not come crushing.
In Ghana for instance, some of the businesses are compelled to fold up as the result of the pandemic.
COVID-19 clearly exposed the defects of digital transformation in Ghana, as can be seen in almost all countries around the world.
It was for this reason that the digitalisation drive for SMEs was crucial to help overcome the challenges and that it is managed to also explore the opportunities and positive sides of the pandemic.
The pandemic has had significant adverse and debilitating impact on global economies, Ghana, therefore was no exception.
To become responsive
The Executive Director of NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, maintained that the COVID-19 SME Innovation and Digitalisation Support Scheme seeks to support SMEs to make full use of digitalisation.
She said the support will also help manage their business operations more efficiently, to become more responsive to clients’ needs, to better organise their business information, to have more efficient record keeping and financial management processes in place, thereby facilitating their access to finance and much more.
She noted that the COVID-19 was still lurking, and therefore digitalisation of SMEs remains a front burner issue on the SME policy agenda in the country.
Critical turning point
Consequently, the executive director said the signing of this partnership marks a critical turning point for SMEs in Ghana, and the NBSSI was happy to be spearheading it.
“Our partnership with the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation, provides an opportunity to increase process efficiency and competitiveness of SMEs by providing access to knowledge, technologies, and expertise in the field of digitalisation and process innovation.
“We stand a chance to better understand and learn more on the needs and challenges of SMEs, even beyond digitalisation, to support the policy agenda,” she added.
She said the COVID-19 SME Innovation and Digitalisation Support Scheme seeks to support SMEs to make full use of digitalisation, to manage their business operations more efficiently.
“It also seeks to make SMEs more responsive to clients’ needs, to better organise their business information, to have more efficient record keeping and financial management processes in place, thereby facilitating their access to finance,” she said.
With people spending more time online than ever before, digitalisation is no more an option but a necessity for small businesses to survive in the coronavirus era.
Besides, choosing the right set of online marketing strategies in line with their business model and external environment seems crucial for businesses to wade through COVID-like future crises.