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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the backbone of Ghana’s economy: constituting 70% of Ghana’s GDP and 92% of all businesses in the country.

Women make up 46% of Ghana’s SME sector, which contributes 70% to the country’s GDP, according to International Finance Corporation (IFC).

SMEs drive innovation, create jobs and foster development. However, these vital enterprises are often confronted with numerous obstacles that impede their operations.

In its quest to empower and support SMEs in Ghana with digital solutions and financial inclusion, MTN Ghana has launched the SME month on July 3 2024.

This will be characterized by various activities to empower such organizations. The head of MTN Ghana SME, Mohammed Abubakar gave more insight to the celebration.

“July is situated within the middle of the year, so we think it’s the best to put the celebration of SMEs there. Starting with our launch today, we h ave the following activities planned, Africa business innovation conference in Accra, capacity training, women business roadshows, SME fairs across selected regions, among others.

About 60% are made up of women within the SME cohort so we believe women are contributing a lot to our economy and we want to identify these women, celebrate them, and give them the impetus to do more. We are not allocating funds for SME directly, but our mobile money has quick loans they can access, and they will access more when they pay,” he explained.

The Chief Enterprise Business Officer for MTN Business, Angela Mensah Poku also expressed how the month-long celebration is tailor-made to the request of the SMEs they engaged.

“July has always been the annualized month that we celebrate and reach out to our customers. Our SMEs turn to be more informal and so we need to understand our customers and bring digital solutions to them.

Last year, they gave us feedback and said it’s not just feedback, they need support with capacity building and training, so our partners are on board to help, they said they needed access to insurance, financing, and networking, and so this month we have all the activities to drive and empower our SMEs,” she explained.

She also expressed how excited they are about the women roadshows in partnership with Absa since it gives them the opportunity to connect with the female entrepreneurs, give them the skill to build and formalize their businesses.

The Greater Accra Regional Chairman for the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Tsonam Akpeloo, urged MTN Ghana to prioritize addressing internet and cybersecurity issues for SMEs.

“The MTN initiative is very strategic for us. Some of our members have had concerns about the quality of services rendered by telcos these days and it’s important for telcos to take steps to always ensure that we have the best of the internet and payment services.

If you are asking SMEs to come online and do business, you have to ensure the mechanism of doing online business is safeguarded and it is properly streamlined. There are other issues of cyber security and internet crimes. Most of our members have mentioned to us that on daily basis they are losing their monies to online thefts,” he said.

Speaking with the SMEs, Robert Amamoo from Daddy Ash expressed their expectations for the celebration.

“MTN as a solution provider has been of immense support to us. We have outlets across the country and MTN provides the software we use which eases our ability to deal with our customers online. There are few challenges such as mobile money thefts and internet issues, so we expect them to work on these for us as we celebrate SMEs this month,” he stated.

By Sarfoa Boahene