Wa market women cry foul over COVID-19 Funds

Wa, May 1, GNA - Members of the Wa Market Women Association are crying foul over their inability to access some of the COVID-19 funds created by the government to help mitigate the impact of the global pandemic on small businesses across the country.

The women who channeled their hopes of also accessing the fund through the Business Resource Centre (BRC) in Wa, are lamenting that since they started the process in September, 2020, none of their members have so far been able to access the fund.

Members of the Association including used cloth sellers, tomato sellers, prints sellers, onion sellers, and provision shop owners among others who acknowledged the huge impact of the disease on their businesses said they feel now dejected, disappointed and deceived.

Narrating the issue to the GNA in Wa, Hajia Anti Mairy Mahama Jigbali, the Organiser of the Wa Market Women Association in an interview with the GNA in Wa, said the BRC contacted them last year to inform them that some funds were available for small businesses to access and support their growth.

“Therefore, we were required to put ourselves into groups to enable us to access the funds to do our business”, she said noting that after forming the groups they were asked to apply for Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) so they could register their businesses.

Hajia Anti Mairy who sells prints noted that while they were still on the process, the BRC came with another information that the funds they wanted to access for them were not ready yet but that the COVID-19 funds were ready so they were rather going to facilitate the process for them to access that instead.

“So we spent GHȻ10.00 on the TIN and GHȻ50.00 on the registration totaling GHȻ60.00 and yet we are not able to access the fund till date as we have been promised; but we hear information that people in other places are accessing the funds to do their businesses”, she lamented.

She said the painful thing was that some members of the Association were accusing them, the executives, of conniving with the BRC to take their monies under the pretense of business registration.

“They have caused dissatisfaction among us, they have also deceived and put us to shame especially we the leaders”, she said and called on the BRC to do something about the situation to save their businesses and also save the executives from the insults.

Meanwhile, Mr Abu Ibrahim, the Manager of the BRC Office in Wa, explained that the office work with clients and that before they could work with anyone or group as a client, that person or group must have a business certificate.

He said many of these market women had no business certificates; hence, the idea to assist them to get these business certificates in order to formalize their businesses so they could take advantage of grant opportunities.

He said it was in the spirit of this that they took them through that process of business formalization before they would now be in the position to link them up with funding opportunities.

“As we speak, some of our other clients have already received their grants while some will soon be receiving theirs also”, he said whilst urging the market women to keep calm as they work to link them up with other opportunities.

Mr Ibrahim said with the coming of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, many opportunities would soon be available for them to link their clients to get funding to grow their businesses.

Hajia Memunatu Angaamwine, one of the leaders of the Wa Market Women said Mr Ibrahim’s outfit did not explain to them that they wanted to register them as their clients to do business.

According to her, the BRC approached them and categorically told them that they wanted to assist them to access the COVID-19 funds, which they accepted because they were all feeling the impact of the disease on their businesses.

We have been deceived and we don’t think we have that trust to engage in any business with the BRC in the future”, Hajia Memunatu said.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on May 19, 2020, launched the Corona Virus Alleviation Programme – Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS) of GHȻ600.00 million to specifically support micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to recover from the shock caused by the pandemic.
In Ghana, MSMEs account for 92% of businesses and contribute to about 70% of Gross Domestic Product (ISSER, University of Ghana, 2015). Undoubtedly, MSMEs are the pulse of the Ghanaian economy. It is these businesses that keep the lights on in Ghana.

According to the NBBSI website, currently, about 237,518 MSMEs have received disbursements from the Scheme. Beneficiaries include businesses in the manufacturing, health care and pharmaceutical, water and sanitation, textiles and garments, education and hospitality sectors.
Meanwhile, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ghana as of Sunday, May 9, 2021, stands at 92,856 out of which a total of 90,480 have recovered while 783 of the affected persons, unfortunately, lost their lives.