SMEs promise to pay back covid-19 stimulus package

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Mark badu-aboagye and Saed Moomen
Mr Mark Badu-Aboagye (left) and Mr Saed Moomen (right)

Ghanaian Business associations have confirmed receipt of the government of Ghana stimulus package meant to cushion small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

They committed to ensure that the beneficiary members used the funds to invest in their operations in line with government’s agenda of supporting businesses affected by the pandemic.

The associations, Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Association of Small-Scale Industries (ASSI), Abossey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association, Creative Arts Agency (CAA), and Sekondi-Takoradi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, sponsored their members to benefit from the stimulus package.

In separate interviews with the Graphic Business over the weekend in Accra, the associations said between 65 per cent and 95 per cent of their members who applied for the fund had received it.

They said members received between GH¢1,000 and GH¢200,000 to help sustain their businesses which has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Consequently, the associations said measures have been put in place to ensure that loans secured through their tickets were repaid within the stipulated period.

GUTA confirm

The President of GUTA, Dr Joseph Obeng, observed that about 65 per cent of its members have received their share of the fund.

“About 65 per cent of our members who applied for the package have received it. Our beneficiaries are even more because some of them applied in their own individual capacities without going through the ticket of the association,” he said.

According to him, members of the association who have benefited from the package have so far invested in their operations.

As a guarantor to its members, Dr Obeng added that GUTA was keeping a close eye on its beneficiary members to ensure that repayment of the fund would not become a problem.

GNCCI invest appropriately

Confirming that members of the GNCCI have also benefited from the package, its Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Mark Badu-Aboagye, stated that the chamber will ensure that its beneficiary members invest the funds appropriately.

“We will ensure that our beneficiaries pay back the loans within the stipulated period.

“They applied to purposely invest in their operations, some of them have used the money to pay for the salaries, others used it to buy raw materials to keep their business moving.

“The beneficiaries know that the funds are not enough for them to invest in machineries and equipment to expand their productions and so therefore, we have advised them not to invest the money into a building project,” he said.

ASSI is hopeful

The President of the ASSI, Mr Saed Moomen, observed that about 70 per cent of its members have receive their share of the fund.

Although majority of ASSI members have benefited, he said the association was hopeful that the remaining 30 per cent would receive their share before the end of the programme.

Beyond member beneficiaries, Mr Moomen stated that the association have also been equipped with laptops and other office equipment to improve data collection.

That, he said, has already helped the association to collect accurate data on its over three million members across the 16 regions in the country.

Creative arts beneficiaries

The Head of Operations at CAA, Mr Frank Owusu, said the Creative Arts Agency, an umbrella body for 15-member creative art associations, have sponsored 24,464 individual members to receive the fund.

“An appreciable number of creative art businesses that applied to through the agency have benefited as at the records available to us.

“They received between GH¢1,000 and GH¢200,000 to help sustain their operations,” he added.

The context

The Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS) is a special fund set up by the government to cushion MSMEs from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a seed capital of GH¢600 million, the fund was subsequently topped up with GH¢150 million, brining it to a total of GH¢150 million.

Its key objective is to help protect as many jobs as possible as the COVID-19 rages.

The management of the fund is under the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI).

Dr Joseph Obeng - GUTA President Speaking on