SMEs Fair for growth launched - It comes on in March

A SMALL and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Fair aimed at breaking down the barriers that inhibit growth of the enterprises has been launched in Accra.

The two-day event is scheduled to take place at the Accra International Conference Centre on March 16 and 17, 2016 and seeks to make known to SME entrepreneurs various government and private sector initiatives, institutions, funding and financial solutions that they could tap into.

Branded the SME Financing Fair and Exhibition, the event is also expected to serve as a platform for the meeting of SME owners and the financial community to deliberate on issues of finance for the sector.

At the launch, the Minister of State in charge of Private Sector Development, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, said the country could only succeed in its economic transformation agenda and job creation if SMEs succeeded.

According to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) statistics, SMEs comprised more than 160,000 registered limited liability companies and more than 350,000 sole enterprises.
SMEs contribute more than 40 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) — making them major contributors to economic growth, taxes and employment.

In spite of their contributions, SMEs face a number of problems, including the absence of adequate and timely finance, limited capital and knowledge and unavailability of suitable technology.

Others are low production capacity, ineffective marketing strategies, lack of capacity to identify new markets, constraints on modernisation and  expansions, unavailability of highly skilled labour at affordable cost, bureaucratic delays and the complex maze of rules in following up with various government agencies to resolve problems.

Successive governments in Ghana have tended to look at cosmetic minor changes and relied on inadequate donor funds to address the concerns of SMEs.

Despite these support systems, and the new institutionalised funding through non-bank financial institutions and traditional banks, capacity gaps continue to exist.

But Mr Pelpuo said the launch of the fair was an attempt to find lasting solutions to the challenges and “bring exposure to the innovative financing mechanisms in the country.”

“Despite the numerous financing opportunities available, the successful utilisation of these opportunities remains limited and access to finance still remain a key constraint on SMEs growth and effectiveness,” he stated and added that “the high information asymmetry that leads to lack of awareness of the various funding opportunities and how to access them could also have a direct bearing on the cost of access; hence, the low rate of successful utilisation.”

The minister said information lopsidedness could also affect the ability of financial intermediaries to adequately understand the specific and peculiar needs of SMEs to guide product or solution development.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ibrahim Murtala Mohammed, acknowledged the prospects and challenges facing the SME sector, but said the fair was a rallying point to promote the growth of the sector.

He, therefore, urged SME owners to patronise the fair to contribute to the strengthening of SMEs in the country.


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