The German Development Agency (GIZ) has awarded a grant of €1.5 million to help digitise the operations of 500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
The grant was made possible through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) to provide SMEs with digital solutions as a strategy to adapt to emerging market demands arising amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
As a result, the two organisations have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to implement the initiative dubbed COVID-19 SME Innovation and Digitalisation Support Scheme.
The Head of Network for Inclusive Economic Development (NIED) Cluster at GIZ, Ghana, Mr Gerald Guskowski, signed on behalf of GIZ while the Executive Director of NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, appended her signature for the board.
Speaking at the signing ceremony on Monday, November 16 in Accra, Mr Guskowski, expressed his satisfaction with the agreement, saying that it would pave the way for the two parties to work together to strengthen SMEs in Ghana.
He explained that the COVID-19 SME Innovation and Digitalisation Support Scheme was expected to provide Ghanaian SMEs with digital solutions as a strategy to adapt to emerging market demands brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said the agreement was under the Special Initiative on Training and Job Creation which was being implemented by GIZ.
“A third partner – the Digital Transformation Centre, also implemented by GIZ Ghana, will be responsible for supporting this project with technical expertise to implement digital solutions.”
He observed that the COVID-19 Pandemic has had significant adverse and debilitating impact on global economies, Ghana, therefore was no exception.
He said worldwide 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, he said some businesses were compelled to fold up.
“COVID-19 clearly exposed the defects of digital transformation in Ghana, as can be seen in almost all countries around the world; this is why I am really excited to see that we are able to overcome these challenges and that we managed to also explore the opportunities and positive sides of the pandemic.
“This partnership will support the digitalisation of up to 500 growth-oriented SMEs, which will in turn help sustain at least 1600 jobs; we want to keep these businesses alive and strengthen their resilience during COVID-19, thereby sustaining jobs,” he added.
COVID-19 still lurking
For her part, Mrs Yankey-Ayeh 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.
Consequently, she said the signing of this agreement 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.