In line with Access Bank Ghana’s goal of building resilient and thriving businesses among Ghanaian small and medium enterprises, the Bank, in partnership with Graphic Business, held its third edition of the SME Clinic at the Akromah Hotel in Takoradi, the regional capital of the West.
The clinic on the theme “Unleashing the potential of SMEs through digitalization” brought together seasoned entrepreneurs and experts in the field, business owners in and around Takoradi and virtual participants, to share information on trends that SMEs could leverage to thrive.
Speaking on behalf of Access Bank Managing Director Olumide Olatunji, Kafui Bimpe, Corporate Banking Group Head for Access Bank, noted that statistics show that SMEs account for about 90% of businesses and more than 50 % of jobs in the world. Despite this, SMEs are grappling with the negative impacts of the global health crisis.
“Results of a COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in 2020 revealed that approximately 35.7% of businesses had to close, 46.1% reported a reduction in wages. , 4.0% reported layoffs of staff during the peak of COVID-19 in Ghana”.
Kafui observed that in recent times, the 3Cs -Covid, climate change and conflict seem to be worsening the plight of SMEs, hence the need to consciously deepen discussions and come up with solutions. Considering these elements, Access Bank has partnered with Graphic Business to reach out to SMEs with digitization skills to enable them to be resilient.
“We identified, through engagements, key areas of support at previous SME clinics held in Accra and Kumasi, and helped deliver solutions such as financing, business advisory and skills training to make them even more resilient to support our country’s economy. than before.
The guest speaker for the event, Professor Bokpin, an Economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana Business School, spoke about the important factors that SMEs need to thrive. Among other things, Professor Bokpin explained that SMEs need to understand how technology applications can be used to run businesses. He said: “Digitization is not just for people who know how to use computers. This is an asset that everyone can take advantage of”. He pointed to the need for a management team, proper accounting, customer service and the need to avail themselves of training as steps SMEs could take to succeed.
He encouraged participants to make use of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCTA) to which Ghana is a member. “AFCTA has given a large market to SMEs. Now you have access to over a billion people to transact with, but that also means positioning yourself to be identified for business,” he added.
Abigail Padi, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Business Studies, Takoradi University, also spoke about the importance of using crowdfunding, a digital means of fundraising, for SMEs during the panel discussion. She explained that SMEs needed to increase their level of funding to support their businesses and said one way to do this was through crowdfunding. “In the past, people only relied on friends and family for their capital, but that trend has changed: digitalization is the way forward,” said Padi. She encouraged SMEs to take advantage of social media platforms to promote their businesses.
Ebenezer Ato Yawson, Chief Information Security Officer and AML Lead of the IT Consortium, who also spoke about building resilient SMEs, reiterated the power of digital fundraising, such as using CHANGO (a crowdfunding) to raise capital in addition to bank loans.
Rebecca Oduro, CEO of Akroma Plaza Hotel, spoke about the importance of succession planning and the value that digitalization brings to businesses. She said her business survived after years of the founder’s death because there was a succession plan. “We have also expanded our payment collection points to include mobile money payment and online booking options. We are getting into more online marketing because it reaches more people and generates more returns”
As the go-to bank for SMEs, Access Bank stays true to its promise to provide more than banking services to customers. Over the years, the Bank has developed a deep understanding of its customers, providing them with excellent services and empowering them to achieve more through financial inclusion, which has led to several awards, including that of the most innovative banking brand for SMEs in 2022.
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