On Wednesday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo launched a US$10-million grant to support small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the tourism, hospitality and creative arts industry, with about 60 per cent of the amount expected to go to female-owned enterprises.
The amount forms part of the Ghana Tourism Development Programme begun in 2018, which is meant to provide financial and technical assistance for the development of the leisure tourism sector.
The grant is, therefore, expected to help assist operators in the sector to modernise and improve their facilities, including the sites.
About 1,500 SMEs are expected to benefit from the grant being provided by the World Bank.
Two things very important with regard to the grant are making SMEs into tourism vibrant and giving female-owned enterprises 60 percent of the amount.
SMEs are privately-owned and so they most of the time lack enough capital to operate at full capacity to be able to offer the expected goods and services and also create the number of jobs that would help reduce unemployment in the country.
Whereas in the European Union (EU), a small-sized enterprise is defined as a company with fewer than 50 employees and a medium-sized one as operating with less than 250 employees without mentioning how much capital they need, in Ghana, the Venture Capital Fund Act 2004 (Act 680) characterises an SME an industry, project, undertaking or economic activity which employs not more than 100 people and whose total asset base, excluding land and building, does not exceed the cedi equivalent of $1 million in value.
The non-mention of capital in the case of the EUcan imply that capital is not an issue in their case, a clear opposite of what obtains in the country.
It is, therefore, a very good move on the part of the government to seek assistance for these private enterprises, considering the fact that it is very difficult for many SMEs in the country to get credit from financial institutions because they do not meet the collateral requirements.
It is the prayer of the Ghanaian Times that all the targeted 1,500 would receive relatively enough grant to vibrantly operate, make profit, expand and employ more people.
Small and medium-size enterprises are critical to every economy as they outnumber large firms, both public and private, and employ a huge number of people, thereby reducing the stress on the state to provide jobs for the citizenry.
It is also said they are generally entrepreneurial in nature and help to shape innovation.
It is the hope of the Ghanaian Times that, as President Akufo-Addo has already advised, the managers of beneficiary SMEs would use the grant to support their businesses to bounce back from the blows of COVID-19, expand, and create jobs to support the growth of the country’s economy.
The managers should do well to resist attempts to buy luxury vehicles and other unnecessary things while their businesses are suffering.
We believe the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture would police the use of the grant by the beneficiaries.
The Ghanaian Times is also happy that 60 percent of the grant would go to female-owned enterprises.
This means a conscious effort is being done to address some of the gender-gap socio-economic problems, which always go against women.
We appeal to the female beneficiaries to avoid impulse buying, apply the funds judiciously and aim to outperform the male-owned enterprises to justify their cherished mantra that “what men can do, women can do it better”.
The government deserves commendation for the move but it should be watchful about the disburse of the grant, bearing in mind the need to check underhand deals and all corrupt acts that can deny beneficiaries the amounts they individually deserve.