Support SMEs to grow— Fair participants

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
 Some patrons of the fair looking at  the items on display. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI
Some patrons of the fair looking at the items on display. Picture: BENEDICT OBUOBI

The Made-in-Ghana Trade Fair ended in Accra yesterday, with a call on the government to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to grow to give real meaning to its industrialisation agenda.

Some local artisans who made the call said the current business environment was not favourable for local artisans to expand and create jobs to help build the economy.

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They complained about inadequate funding support, high cost of power and the cost of importation of materials, which, they said, accounted for the high prices of local products.

Fair

The trade fair which started last Friday was an initiative of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to showcase innovation in the country and promote the use of local products.

It brought together more than 100 SMEs and local artisans from across the country.


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When the Daily Graphic visited the premises of Junction Mall at Nungua, where the event was held, the place was bustling with economic activity.

Local products ranging from leather goods, cosmetics, fabrics, electronics to sculptural pieces were displayed for members of the public.

Some people were there to patronise the services available, while others interacted with the businesses.

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Call

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Obasima Leather Work, a business entity based in Kumasi, Mrs Vivian Awotwe, said the One-district, One-factory policy by the government ought to be holistic enough to provide an opportunity for artisans to expand their businesses.

"I have been in the leather industry for about 10 years now. Ghana has a lot of potential to expand the SME sector, but as of now, many of the materials we use for our products are imported.

"High cost of electricity and other factors of production translate into the cost of the items we produce, so the government needs to support us to be able to offer goods at affordable prices," she said.

She called on the Ministry of Trade and Industry to design special packages for local artisans to ensure that they were not sidelined from initiatives that sought to promote industrialisation.

Support

Mrs Awotwe called on the government to support local artisans to supply school uniforms, furniture, shoes and other materials to educational institutions instead of out-sourcing those contracts.

She also proposed that local artisans should be supported to run training programmes in prison establishments to equip prisoners with livelihoods after serving their prison sentences.

The Creative Director of Koka Style, dealers in local fabrics, Mr Eliis Koka, said the time had come for local artisans to be involved in decision-taking processes by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, especially on issues that directly affected them.

Assurance

Meanwhile, the National Director of the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP), Mr Kwasi Attah-Antwi, said the trade fair was an opportunity to link local artisans to markets outside their domain.

He noted that the key challenge for local artisans had to do with how to fund their businesses.

“We know that people want to up-scale their businesses but the lack of funds draw them back. So, we are trying to provide credit schemes to support them to ensure that they expand to support the One-district, One-factory initiative,” he said.