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General News of Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Source: GNA

Government committed to revamping businesses - Minister

Dormaa-Ahenkro (B/A), Nov. 21, GNA - Mr Kwaku Agyemang-Manu, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative (PSI), has reiterated the NPP government's commitment to revamping small and medium scale businesses to become responsive to Ghana's quest to gain a middle-level income status.

He said the government had in line with this commitment adopted policies and programmes including easy access to loan facilities and the establishment of Business Advisory Centres at the district level to provide technical advice for the growth and proper management of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs).

Mr Agyemang-Manu was addressing the opening of a one-day sensitisation workshop on SMEs' access to finance for 40 selected business proprietors and traditional leaders drawn from Dormaa District at Dormaa-Ahenkro in Brong-Ahafo.

The workshop was organized by the Trade Ministry and facilitated by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI). Topics treated included: "Sources of financing SMEs", "Micro finance and Small Loans Centre facility (MASLOC)" and "The banker's viewpoint of SME financing".

Mr Agyemang-Manu said the sensitisation workshops, being run in Brong-Ahafo, Ashanti and Western regions, were designed to equip participants with requisite courage to take advantage of the government's prudent fiscal policies and access loans to expand and manage their businesses efficiently. "Apart from the government's immense financial support, private entrepreneurs could go into equity participation to provide the necessary capital base for the enhancement of their businesses", Mr Agyemang-Manu noted.

He called on the parti cipants to spread the knowledge acquired at the workshop to their colleague business proprietors who did not have the opportunity to be part of the workshop.

Mr Dawarnoba Baeka, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation of the NBSSI and resource person for the workshop, announced that more than 90 percent of industries in the country were small scale. He said apart from the basic problem of finance, businesses in Ghana were also faced with the lack of management skills and the lukewarm attitude towards capacity building for personnel. Mr Baeka said these and many other teething problems including the lack of technical know-how, businesses in the country were left at the mercy of rudimentary technology of trial and error.

He said apart from the lack of records on businesses and the apparent distaste among Ghanaians towards savings, the period preceding the NPP rule was also characterized by unfavourable loan conditions, which scared businesses.

The NBSSI Director noted that currently several facilities did not require any collateral and urged participants to take advantage of the congenial atmosphere and improve their businesses. Mr Baeka urged businesses in the area to liaise with the Dormaa District officer of the BAC for all necessary information for the growth of their businesses.

Squadron Leader (rtd) Ben Anane Asamoah, District Chief Executive, noted that the workshop was timely and relevant to the growing desire of businessmen and women in the District to get their venture to the next level.

He said with the exposure, people with entrepreneurial acumen in the District would access loans with ease and improve their businesses. The Dormaa-Ahenkro Branch Manager for the Agricultural Development Bank, Mr C K Tieku, reminded business owners that records and accounts were mirror images of their businesses.

He said what the banks expected from business owners who require financial assistance were commitment, honesty and convincing business plan.

Madam Mary Yeboah, Dormaa District Officer in-charge of MASLOC said the Centre gave loans to businesses, especially farmers, irrespective of social status and political affiliation. She said all that the Centre expected from the beneficiaries was honesty and timely repayment of the loans.