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World Bank injects GH¢28m into SME operations

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Mr Masahudu Ankillu Kunateh (2nd from right), the overall winner of the 7th IFEJ-Flamingo Awards with Maclean Kwofi (right), Daily Graphic, Edward Adjei Frimpong (left), Business and Financial Times, and Kingsley Asare, Ghanaian Times. Picture : ESTHER ADJEI
Mr Masahudu Ankillu Kunateh (2nd from right), the overall winner of the 7th IFEJ-Flamingo Awards with Maclean Kwofi (right), Daily Graphic, Edward Adjei Frimpong (left), Business and Financial Times, and Kingsley Asare, Ghanaian Times. Picture : ESTHER ADJEI

The World Bank has injected GH¢28 million grants into the operations of 400 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to support their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) disbursed the grants between November last year and January this year as part of the Ghana Economic Transformation Project (GETP).

They were disbursed to businesses in the agro-processing, food and beverage, health care and manufacturing industries.

The Country Director of the World Bank, Mr Pierre Laporte, made this known in a speech read on his behalf by the bank’s Lead Country Economist at the 7th IFEJ-Flamingo Awards for Business and Financial Journalism in Accra last Friday.

“For instance, we have been working closely with the Ghana Enterprises Agency as part of the Ghana Economic Transformation Project.

“Additional World Bank financing will also be available for technical assistance and grants to SMEs with high growth potential to improve their productivity and support job creation,” he said.

Tourism Development Project

According to him, under the Tourism Development Project, the GEA also made grant funding available to SMEs in tourism, a sector that had been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and related travel restrictions.

He said beyond direct support to firms, the Ghana Economic Transformation Project was helping to lay the foundation for increased private investment in Ghana through improving the business environment, facilitating access to industrial land and bridging the gap in access to finance for firms.

He observed that the Ghana Development Finance Project had been supporting the establishment and operationalisation of the Development Bank Ghana, which would provide wholesale long-term funding for financial institutions to on-lend to credit-worthy enterprises in agribusiness, manufacturing and high-value services.

“We are doing a lot to support firms at the ground level, so to speak. I want to highlight the importance of macroeconomic stability for growth and investment. I think this is now the challenge of the day and the key to Ghana’s ability to emerge stronger from the crisis and in the years to come,” he said.

Shock from COVID

The Council Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), Dr Sodzi Sodzi-Tettey, who was the guest speaker, stated that the shock from the COVID-19 pandemic had posed significant challenges to the Ghanaian economy and impacted countless businesses.

He said while the challenges had come with both threats and opportunities, some sectors, such as health and information, had shown resilience by turning the threats into opportunities for transformation.

Dr Sodzi-Tettey said recovery efforts for businesses must include the leveraging of opportunities created by the pandemic for transformation, recovery and growth.

“These will include identifying innovative ways around risk assessment and decision-making, teamwork, business capacity and organisational resilience,” he said.

Award winners

Four journalists from public and private media houses won various prizes at the IFEJ/Flamingo Awards. They faced stiff competition from six other shortlisted journalists.

The winners were Maclean Kwofi of the Daily Graphic; Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, Africa Eye Report; Edward Adjei Frimpong, Business and Financial Times, and Kingsley Asare, Ghanaian Times.

The awards were on the theme: “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Business Resilience and Recovery in the Ghanaian Economy”.

The Chairman of the five-member award jury, Prof. John Gatsi, said 36 total entries were received for all the nine categories, but only seven categories qualified for awards.