The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) has proposed the setting up of a specialised fund that will facilitate the expansion and competitiveness of women-owned businesses, which make up the bulk of small-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the country’s informal sector.
Discussions on establishment of the fund – which are expected to address the increasing lack of access to finance and high cost of credit to SMEs – will take centre-stage at the maiden Ghana Women Entrepreneurship Summit (GWES 2018) that opens today.
Director of the Women Entrepreneurship Development Department of the NBSSI, Habiba Sumani, speaking to the B&FT ahead of the summit in Accra said: “One key outcome from this summit will be to set up an SME Fund for businesses in the informal sector; one that will specially look at women entrepreneurs.
“The fund can be used to support the businesses of women entrepreneurs, build their capacities and also facilitate their participation in trade fairs as a way of helping them expand and build the competitiveness of their businesses.”
Monies into the fund, according to Ms. Sumani, can be sourced from development partners with interest in SME financing; multinational firms that may want to support entrepreneurship development as a corporate social responsibility function; or even an allocation from the various monies which come from government to develop the entrepreneurial space.
She added: “One other key challenge for SMEs, especially women entrepreneurs, has been the lack of data on the industry. With the fund in place, we can partner the universities as well as research and gender centres to come out with more scientific and elaborate research data which will inform policy decisions that affect the informal business sector”.
The GWES 2018 is being held to advocate, promote and push for change on various issues confronting women entrepreneurs, with special educational seminars and masterclasses on branding, digital marketing, financial literacy as well as productivity and product improvement.
As part of the event, the NBSSI has already organised a series of consultations and roundtable discussions on access to finance and markets for women entrepreneurs, and also engaged its wide clientele base on their key concerns as well as prepared them on the challenges, risks and opportunities in new markets.
“Women play a key role in the informal sector but their businesses remain small; there is a lot we can do to improve their livelihoods by empowering them to make more profit in their businesses.
“At the summit, we will discuss mainstream financial inclusion for women SMEs and the extent to which technology can support. Youth entrepreneurship will also be topical as we seek to sustainably support aspiring women entrepreneurs within the broader context of helping to tackle unemployment in the country,” Ms. Habiba Sumani indicated.