Four hundred and twenty-one small businesses received financial and logistical support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) from 2014 to 2017 to develop and implement their business ideas, the Country Director of DFID, Mr Philip Smith, has said.
The support, he said, had resulted in over 250 per cent revenue growth of such businesses that had in turn created 1,203 jobs in the country.
The DFID’s Enhancing Growth in New Enterprises (ENGINE) programme, which includes 700 female entrepreneurs, aims at bringing together a network of entrepreneurs, government, financial institutions and business development service providers to find common solutions to entrepreneurship development challenges.
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At the launch of the 2017 Enhancing Development of Ghanaian Entrepreneurs conference and exhibition in Accra on Thursday, Mr Smith said: “We anticipate that by the time ENGINE ends in 2018, 500 SMEs would have been helped to overcome barriers to growth and build competitive businesses in Ghana, with firms growing up by 400 per cent and creating new jobs.”
“Many of ENGINE entrepreneurs are now exporting products ranging from indigenous beauty products such as black soap and shea butter based cosmetics to environmentally friendly bamboo bicycle frames across Africa and into Europe and North America,” he added.
The two-day event brought together a number of young start-up entrepreneurs to share their success stories and challenges facing their businesses and the potential of SMEs to transform the country’s economy.
Potential to create jobs
Mr Smith said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) made up the bulk, around 70 per cent, of the private sector and were critical to the country’s sustainable economic development agenda.
“SMEs have the potential to create the jobs that could transform the lives of the growing number of young people in Ghana who enter the job market,” he said.
According to Mr Smith, it was in the broader development interest of Ghana for those enterprises to be successful so they could contribute to the government’s domestic tax resources for development.
He explained that while Ghana had achieved relative growth over the last decade, that growth had been skewed towards extractive and related services, with manufacturing declining.
“Ghana’s economy is characterised by a few successful very large companies, and lots of very small firms stuck mainly in small-scale ventures and it is this low success rate of transformation from micro firms to larger scale companies that concerns the conference today,” he added.
Mr Smith said DFID was focused on supporting Ghana to stimulate investment, improve the ease of doing business, mobilise domestic resources and move beyond aid,” he said.
Support to SMEs
In an address read on his behalf, the Minister of Business Development, Mr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, said his outfit was about to implement the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), a flagship initiative launched recently to be the primary vehicle for providing an integrated, national support for early-stage start-up and small businesses.
“The NEIP is currently seeded with $10 million which will be leveraged to raise private capital and multilateral funding of $100 million to funds its programme,” he stated.
The Country Director of TechnoServe, Dr Kwame S. Boate, said ENGINE was currently empowering over 500 individuals, entrepreneurs and private businesses to become self-sustainable to create over 1,200 jobs in Ghana.