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Graphic-Access Bank SME Fair: Prof. Bokpin rallies support for businesses

BY: Justice Agbenorsi
Prof. Godfred Bokpin (left) speaking at the SME fair in Accra. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Prof. Godfred Bokpin (left) speaking at the SME fair in Accra. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

The Graphic-Access Bank Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Fair opened in Accra yesterday, with a call on the government to be intentional about growing SMEs to become continental and global giants.

A professor of Finance at the University of Ghana, Godfred Bokpin, who made the call, said SMEs were capable of providing the projected 10 million decent jobs needed in the country by 2040 when many of the people are projected to be below 30 years.

“We cannot remain solely at the SME level; we must be intentional in growing some of our SMEs to become regional and global giants.

“We must be intentional in identifying those with higher potential for growth, so they can put the country’s map on the continental and global levels,” he said in a lecture on the topic: “Access to market, an imperative for sustainable growth”.

Fair

Over 150 exhibitors are participating in the two-day fair, which is taking place at the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) office complex.

The fair, on the theme: “Enhancing SMEs’ access to markets for sustainable growth”, is aimed at boosting the capacity of SMEs to enable them to contribute to economic growth and development.

Local entrepreneurs were taken through comprehensive capacity-building initiatives to enable them to play their respective roles in the national transformational agenda.

Since its commencement in 2021, the SME Clinic has been organised in the Ashanti, Western and Greater Accra regions.

Also, eight capacity-building workshops have been held in Accra, Kasoa, Kumasi, Techiman, Koforidua, Takoradi, Ho and Tamale to build participants’ capacity in digital skills to grow their businesses.

Taking advantage of AfCFTA

Prof. Bokpin further said with Ghana hosting the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat, it was important for SMEs to be strengthened to help reduce multi-dimensional poverty in the country.

He said hosting the single continental market meant that the country’s SMEs must be equipped with relevant information and greater access to markets to become self-sustaining and highly competitive within AfCFTA member states, with a combined population of 1.3 billion.

He also emphasised the need for opportunities to be created for SMEs to scale-up, adding: “Even though Ghana is hosting the secretariat, just like in Qatar, we could exit at the group stage.”

Commendation

A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Hebert Krapa, commended the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) and Access Bank for recognising the contribution of SMEs and creating a platform for them to ultimately support the county’s economic growth.

He said since SMEs were the spine in the county’s growth, the government was taking some measures to help the sector with the requisite technical support, including information and access to market.

He mentioned the measures to include interest subsidy support, access to finance through the Ghana Export-Import Bank (GEXIM) and the Ghana Enterprises Agency.

He urged SMEs to take advantage of digitalisation to deepen trade in goods and services to rewrite the narrative of businesses in the country.

Access Bank

The Managing Director of Access Bank, Olumide Olatunji, said the bank had, over the past two years, been championing the cause of building robust and resilient SMEs equipped with skills to upscale and operate globally.

In line with that, he said, the bank had advanced loans in excess of GH¢100m to SMEs to help grow their capital base to enhance their businesses.

Mr Olatunji, therefore, urged the participants to take advantage of the initiative to build upon their businesses, saying: “As a go-to bank for SMEs, Access Bank remains committed to supporting the sustainable growth of SMEs in the country.”

For his part, the Director, Sales and Marketing of the GCGL, Franklin Sowa, said as a media house with over seven decades of experience, it had become necessary for the GCGL to partner Access Bank to support SMEs on their business journey.

Describing the two-year journey with Access Bank as exciting, he said the GCGL was committed to collaborating with various stakeholders to ensure that SMEs succeeded in their businesses for the accelerated development of the country.