Accra, June 10, GNA - President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), formerly National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), to enhance the regulation and development of the Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) sector.
He also launched the National MSMEs and Entrepreneurship Policy - a plan to direct the growth and provide clear direction and opportunities for all actors within the sector, and grant fund of GH¢ 145 million to enable hundreds of businesses to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Akufo-Addo said the transformation of the NBSSI into the GEA was in sync with his government’s priority to transform the structure of Ghana’s economy to that of a value-added one that would create the required jobs for the teeming youth.
The vision to transform the economy could not be fully realised without creating and strengthening an agency for the MSMEs sector to play a lead role, he said.
“One might ask, why MSMEs? The answer is simple. It is because the sector employs more than 80 per cent of the workforce, and generates some 70 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
The Act establishing the Agency made the GEA the apex body to co-ordinate and promote the growth and development of MSMEs in the country, President Akufo-Addo said.
The GEA, he said, would lead the way in creating a dynamic MSME ecosystem and entrepreneurial community to help propel Ghana’s growth.
President Akufo-Addo said the policy direction was to eliminate the duplication of efforts currently being witnessed in the MSME sector, ensure the judicious use of resources, implement programmes to formalise and support the informal sector, and design interventions to support MSMEs in the country.
On the GEA Small and Medium Enterprises Grant Fund, the President said the arrangement was established to support SMEs to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and resuscitate their operations under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project.
He said the disbursement of the GH¢145 million grant would be made to 250 to 350 SMEs to help them grow into sustainable businesses, capable of competing on the regional, continental and global stages.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Government announced and implemented the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS).
“The goal was to limit the impact of the pandemic on job losses and livelihoods, by supporting MSMEs. Administered by the then NBSSI, now GEA, the novel seven hundred-and fifty-million-cedi (GH¢750 million) stimulus package from Government to the private sector provided relief to various business, in order to help sustain them, and keep staff on the payroll,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“Government further partnered the Mastercard Foundation, again through NBSSI, to advance to MSMEs an additional amount of ninety million cedis (GH¢90 million), as part of the NBSSI/Mastercard Foundation Covid-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme, also referred to as the nkcsuo programme for MSMEs,” he said.
“This in line with Government’s priority to achieve economic transformation, COVID-19 notwithstanding.”
Three hundred thousand (300,000) businesses had benefited from those interventions, he said.
“We know there is more work to be done, and we are doing the work. We will not rest on our oars. Government is working systematically to ensure that we find more solutions to support entrepreneurs and their MSMEs to fuel their growth,” President Akufo-Addo said.
“The one hundred-billion-cedi (GH¢100 billion) Ghana CARES ‘Obaatampa’ project is one such innovative initiative, which will revitalise and transform the economy. It, indeed, anchors bright prospects for the medium-term.”
The Chief Executive Officer of the GEA, Ms Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, said the transformation of the NBSSI into GEA would enable the Agency to get rid of outmoded laws and introduce new practices to regulate and accelerate business growth.
"For years there were some of the businesses that did not know which home to go to. So this new Act opens its arms to all of them," she said, adding that the Agency had been well resourced to support MSMEs.
Ms Yankey-Ayeh said the GEA, with the new policy, would create a database of MSMEs to ensure that better programmes and policies were designed to support them.
Mr Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, the Trade and Industry Minister, was positive that the new support for MSMEs would empower them to take full advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA).
He said the support would help build internal capacity of producing goods needed locally to enable the country to attain the vision of a Ghana Beyond Aid.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, said the transformation of the NBSSI to GEA would help streamline the activities within the MSME sector and provide the necessary funding and support for such businesses to grow.