‘Don’t neglect SMEs as Covid-19 goes down’

November 16, 2021 By 0 Comments

The Deputy Managing Director of United Bank of Africa (UBA), Mrs. Sylvia Inkoom, has urged Ghanaians not to ignore Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which assisted Ghana with logistics used to battle the Covid-19 pandemic.

To her, the current situation where Ghanaians are now importing face masks, which could have been produced by the very SMEs that saved the situation at the initial stages, is not the best.

“Not too distant, when the Covid-19 came, Ghanaians saw how stranded Ghana became as a nation; and we all saw how nations became very stranded, because they have gotten use to importing things from abroad, being containers and the likes, but when the destruction of Covid dawned on Ghana, and Ghana could not import, Ghana was forced to look inward, and who were the people that supported us? – SMEs,” she charged.

“Quickly we had veronica buckets; we did not have Veronica bucket in the past; at least, I did not know about Veronica bucket, but we got Veronica bucket with wooden stands that you can step on and sanitisers, soap, and water will come for you to wash your hands,” she added.

Speaking at a UBA breakfast meeting with SMEs in Kumasi under the theme, “Overcoming SMEs Credit Accessibility Constraints in Ghana,” recently, Mrs Inkoom said when covid struck, the country fell on tailors, seamstresses, and designers, “but now we have forgotten about them.”

According to her, the fact that the country relied on these professionals showed the importance the SMEs play in our national economy. She, therefore, called for massive support for these SMEs in the interest of the country.

“I am appealing to SMEs like you that since the Covid is going down and people have begun ordering again, do not forget that for you to survive, you have to work on each other.Do not be quick to go on the internet and order things that you know another SME in Ghana produce for you,” she advised.

Touching on record keeping in SMEs the Deputy Director of UBA explained that some SMEs do not record their expenditures “so please keep records; write and if you cannot write get somebody to write and record for you.”

Sylvia Inkoom indicated poor record-keeping was one of the reasons there was so much frustrations between SMEs and the banks. This, she noted, falls under the function of management and that if banks do not give SMEs loans, their businesses do not perform well.

The Ashanti regional president of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Anthony Oppong on his part noted that though SMEs are told they are the cornerstone of the Ghanaian economy, they do not get the needed assistance to thrive.

According to him in this Covid-19 era, SMEs are those that are employing people adding that they pay taxes to the state more than government workers.

However, when they look at their businesses, they are lagging behind when it comes to access to funds, adding that elsewhere when one sets up a business, the person is given a loan with no interest or little interest, but that is not the case in Ghana.

According to him, access to loan has always been a herculean task and that it takes longer time before it is granted by the banks and that farmers barely have access to credit facilities, an aberration he argued, is quite known to the state.

Fighting back the assertion that some SMEs do not pay back loans given out to them, Anthony Oppong said, “The reality is that the interest rates are unbearable and this compel them to renege on their promises.”

He mentioned administrative charges, quick payment of loans as some of the contributory factors to their challenges .Oppong asserted that the 13% policy rate by the Bank of Ghana is not being adhered to by the banks and appealed to the state to do something about it.