Access Bank/ Graphic Business SME Clinic: SMEs invited to take advantage of digital technological tools

Abigail Padi (1st from left), Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Business Studies, Takoradi Technical University, interacts with some participants after the SME clinic

PANELISTS from the Access Bank/Graphic Business SME Clinic highlighted the need for SMEs to leverage digital technologies to improve the efficiency of their business operations.

Mostly accomplished entrepreneurs, the panelists felt that such a move would help businesses thrive even in the toughest of circumstances.

Justifying the need for digital technologies, they drew lessons from the peak of the COVID-19 outbreak and the raging conflict between Ukraine and Russia which has severely affected businesses and noted that lessons learned from both Major world events make it imperative to embrace digital technologies to stay afloat.

Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store or process data. Well-known examples include social media, online games, multimedia and mobile phones.

At the third edition of the Access Bank/Graphic Business SME Clinic held on September 14 in the oil town of Takoradi in the Western Region, entrepreneurs recognized that digital transformation was one of the drivers of long-term growth and success in today’s business world.

About 100 SMEs participated in the SME Clinic, which had the theme: “Unleashing the potential of SMEs through digitalization”.

The clinic has become a major platform created for SMEs to appreciate the need for them to be determined to grow and create opportunities for themselves and the economy as a whole.

Experiences

Sharing their experiences in a panel discussion, the IT Consortium’s Security and AMYL Manager, Ebenezer Aton Yawson, shared how his company started about 20 years ago with one person and grew to five. .

He also shared the company’s commitment not to spend but to systematically reinvest profits back into the business.

He said the company now has a wide range of customers and continues to seek out issues that can be resolved with end-to-end technical solutions.

Mr Yawson said digitization has become the next big thing and plays a central role in everything being done today.

He urged entrepreneurs to invest in technological tools to be able to grow their business.

Challenges

For her part, the General Manager of Akroma Plaza, a hotel that has become a household name in Takoradi, Rebecca Oduro, shared the company’s history and successes.

She said it started as a family-owned breakfast service and bakery business and noted that even in its current state, it is still family-run.

Later, she said that many business ventures were explored and some failed while others succeeded including Akroma Plaza.

“We had our challenges. We have diversified into other areas that have not been successful. It’s not as easy as you think. But with credibility, sincerity and honesty, the company has grown thanks to access to financing facilities.

“It didn’t take us a day to get to where we are,” she said.

Ms. Oduro explained how Akroma had leveraged financial payment systems and social media, primarily, as digital tools to increase the company’s visibility.

“Now customers can place orders and pay via mobile money so they only collect them when they arrive and don’t have to wait. We also have an online chat room for feedback so that we can improve our services,” she said.

Digital finance

Abigail Padi, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Business Studies, Takoradi Technical University, said that finance is the engine of business and therefore SMEs should be able to increase investment in their business to make them durable.

She said digitization was the way forward to access finance to improve businesses and cited crowdfunding (the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to fund a business) as a key tool for financing businesses digitally.

She urged entrepreneurs to use the global village to find financing for their businesses and outlined some business principles they should observe to be successful.

“Don’t buy new things when we can use used ones, don’t buy used when you can rent, don’t rent when you can borrow, don’t borrow when you can beat, don’t beat this that you can beg, don’t beg for what you can get back, don’t get back when you can get it for free, don’t take for free what someone will pay you, don’t take payment for something that people will bid for you,” she said.

Knowledge for devt

An economist and lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Godfred Bokpin, noted that development, whether at the individual, household or national level, is knowledge-intensive.

Professor Bokpin said that more people, especially young people, are spending more time online than they go to where the businesses actually are and therefore any attempt to attract young people should be through through digitization.

“It also means you could work in Takoradi, but if you employ digitalization you can attract people from all over the world to what you do,” he said.

He commended Access Bank for investing in SMEs to ensure their growth.