Stop Paying Lip Services To SME Sector

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Ghana’s governments have, over the years, consistently chanted one mantra: the small and medium scale enterprises, SME, form the bedrock for any economic transformation and mass employment generation. The rulers have all agreed that these set of businesses offer the competitiveness and high growth potential with prospects of upgrading human capital, skills and job opportunities by addressing mismatch skills the economy needs to be stable.
These business theories when implemented as part of a comprehensive strategic plan will
Improve market access as well as exports and serve as the game changer of the country needs to enable the SME sector make a quantum leap and become the backbone of the economy.
The sector, the largest employer in the country, has over the years accounted for some 80 per cent of operational businesses, contributing over 60 per cent to GDP though it constrained by many factors making it not to rise fast enough to meet the national aspirations.
For the sector to expand, it needs the necessary and functional infrastructure, a regulated environment, capacity, finance and business linkages coupled with a targeted investment in high-growth sectors unlike the present situation whereby the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) with virtually no capacity to discharge the functions it has been saddled with to raise the level of the sector.
This should not be the case as the SME sector on its own needs full attention to place it on the “trajectory towards booming yet inclusive economic development” which it sorely needs to transform the business environment in the country.
Maybe that is what government foresaw when it set up the Ministry of Business Development to pay special attention to business development as it seems Ghanaians are averse to taking investment risks that open doors to vast fortunes for these certified ‘gamblers’ who dared and won and eventually created a win-win situation for themselves and the society at large.
However, to arrive at this junction cannot be the exclusive duty of government or investors alone. There are many hurdles that the individual cannot cross without government intervention and support. For example, how many potential investors can afford to build a road, extend electricity or install a communication tower when he is a pioneer in an agro-processing venture in the hinterland where these facilities must be available for business to commence?
If we insist that these SMEs are the best and quickest means to create employment opportunities, then government must take the bull by its horns and create the necessary regulatory environment that will ginger many currently unemployed to venture into worthwhile businesses.
Many are walking the street aimlessly looking for work while others have very good ideas which cannot be implemented because the originators do not have the financial wherewithal to bring them into fruition.
The banks will not help because the applicants do not have the needed collateral and at the end both the entrepreneur and the job seeker are left hanging dry: each looking up to heaven believing their salvation will come from the skies.
These ideas of thinking outside the box and introducing innovation are not new to the banks and the state actors, the energy and willingness to introduce radical reforms into the SME sector is what is lacking: no one wants to be seen as overturning the applecart though all want a change that will bring prosperity.