Let’s position ourselves to take advantage of AfCFTA — SMEs urged
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country have been asked to team-up to undertake big-ticket transactions that can profit Africa’s over 1.2 billion consumers.
That will help position the country’s Small and Medium Enterprises to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which become operational in January 2020.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, made the call at the opening of a three-day trade fair at the forecourt of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).
Dubbed “Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Street Fair,” the event served as a one-stop-shop for Christmas shoppers with about 100 exhibitors.
It had on display, locally-made items, including fabrics, clothes and fashion accessories, shoes and bags, cosmetics, detergent, beverages and other edibles.
The event was organised by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and Mastercard Foundation under the Young Africa Works Programme with support from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).
Mr Twum-Akwaboah said SMEs needed to reposition themselves to benefit from the AfCFTA, which becomes operational next month.
He said businesses should ensure that the quality and packaging of their products were top-notch to attract the attention of buyers.
He said they should ensure consistency in their businesses to sustain their client base and create niches for themselves as well as obey the trade rules in order not to miss the opportunities that the continental trade would bring.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted business, Mr Twum-Akwaboah said the business community needed to learn the lessons to build their resilience and prepare for future disruptions.
The Deputy Executive Director of the NBSSI, Mrs Anna Armo- Himbson, said the event was as part of efforts by the organisers to boost the sale of locally made items and enhance the readiness of MSME for the AfCTA.
The building of strong local MSMEs was not only for the AfCTA but also an integral part of the government’s national development agenda through the Ghana ‘Beyond Aid’ vision.
She said it was in line with this agenda that more than 300,000 MSMEs had so far received support under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business SupportScheme (CAP BuSS) so they would weather the impact of the COVID-19.
According to her, the CAP-BuSS and the Mastercard Foundation’s Nkosuo loans had helped businesses to overcome challenges with access to funding, which was the headache of many businesses.
With that support given in addition to the business advisory one, she urged traders to use the platform created through the fair to augment business visibility, network and build a clientele for the growth of their business.
“We can benefit from the AfCTA if we build a strong local trade force to compete favourably,” she said, adding that the government, through the NBSSI, would play its part and so expected the MSMEs to do the same.