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General News of Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Source: GNA

GJA receives about 500,000 GH cedis grant

Accra, Feb. 27, GNA-The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has received the highest grant ever of about 500,000 Ghana cedis to implement its second phase of promoting small scale enterprises under its project; "Using the Media to Strengthen Business Advocacy". The amount to be accessed through the BUSAC Fund jointly financed by DANIDA, USAID, and DFID is to be used to build capacities of local businesses and make them as important drivers of Ghana's economic growth.

Addressing the media at the launch of the project in Accra on Tuesday, Mr Flemming Bjork Pedersen, the Danish Ambassador to Ghana said despite the important role of SMEs in an economy, the absence of appropriate channels such as access to credit, high cost of running businesses, product quality and market restrictions, among other things compelled most enterprises to operate under optimal levels. He said, the partnership being forged between businesses and the media, as a whole would lead to the harnessing of the strength of both partners towards a shared objective.

"The combination of the two represents a strong force for businesses with deep knowledge and operational experience to make use of the expertise and wide audience/readership of the media to advocate in an informed manner in gaining the attention of policy makers," he said. Mr Pedersen urged the partners to augment their advocacy efforts with appropriate research, saying, "Qualitative and quantitative data went a long way to enrich the quality of any advocacy..."

Mr. Joe Baidoe-Ansah, Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative said SMEs constituted about 90 percent of registered businesses in the country and therefore their development was critical to sustainable economic growth.

"SMEs create jobs, incomes, they stimulate private ownership and entrepreneurial skills as well as help diversify economic activity, resulting in significant contribution to exports and domestic trade," he said. He said the role of the media in advocacy must be appreciated as the interface between policy and business especially through the provision of vital information to SMEs on one hand and between SMEs and Large Scale Enterprises on the other.

Mr. Ransford Tetteh, President of the GJA said the project fell in line with the Association's effort to promote specialization in journalism and strengthening coverage in all-important sectors other than politics.

"...GJA considers its engagement in galvanising the media into focusing attention on business concerns and development to be a noble one capable of making a real difference in the business culture in Ghana," he said.

Mr Tetteh said GJA would continue to sensitise the leadership of business groups and entrepreneurs to the importance of advocacy in business to promote dialogue between policy makers and business operatives with the view to addressing the concerns of businesses. He said, "If Ghana was to develop at the accelerated rate needed to transform its fortunes into a medium income country, then its economy needs to grow, and this can only come about largely through the development of the appropriate culture for business."

According to him, a media with the ability to conduct investigative stories on the economy, finance and business would help promote transparency and accountability in business.

Dr. Dale Rachmeler, the BUSAC Fund Manger announced that part of the grant would go into the training of journalists to boost their ability in serving as active partners in the Ghanaian advocacy movement. Mr. Kwasi Afriyie Badu, Chief Executive Officer of KAB Governance Consult, the facilitators of the project said the amount to GJA was not only the highest so far to the Association but also the highest to be provided by the BUSAC Fund.

He said the second phase of the project has been extended from four to seven regions namely, Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Western under the first phase to Brong Ahafo, Volta, and Eastern regions where beneficiary SMEs would be selected.

The Project would, among other things, make a conscious effort to develop the capacity of a core team of journalists in business advocacy and create a multimedia platform to discuss the concerns of businesses. It will also sensitise the leadership of business groups and entrepreneurs to the importance of advocacy in business, promote dialogue between policy makers and business operatives with the view to addressing their concerns.

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