The COVID-19 pandemic has not gained notoriety only for its alarming human cost, it has also caused an unprecedented economic downturn. According to the findings of the COVID-19 Business Tracker Survey conducted by the Ghana Statistical Service with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the World Bank, Ghanaian businesses suffered an average decline in sales by an estimated 51.5 percent, leading to the closure of businesses and job losses.
As part of efforts to support Ghana’s economic recovery drive, UNDP has rolled out four integrated interventions to help Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) recover from the pandemic and thrive to boost job creation. The interventions, focusing on women and youth-led MSMEs, are building on UNDP’s investment in young innovators that included a seed funding of about $500,000 to 42 young innovators to scale up their businesses.
The support includes market intelligence on investment opportunities, services, and gaps related to MSMEs support in Ghana; a prototype of integrated ecosystem support for businesses; strategic communications capacity development, and a digital gateway to share and access information in real-time.
The interventions are particularly significant as MSMEs are the backbone of the Ghanaian economy – representing about 85% of businesses and contributing about 70% of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP). Therefore, strengthening their resilience holds the unique potential to unlock more opportunities, create more jobs and provide the needed support system to aid the Ghanaian economy in building back better and stronger.
Speaking at the strategic communications capacity building training for the MSMEs, the UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr. Angela Lusigi was apt when she profoundly stated:
“We can emerge from this pandemic stronger if we can bring back jobs and unlock the enormous potential of Ghana’s natural resources and human capital by reinforcing the resilience of small businesses so that we can all thrive’’.
The strategic communications training aims at positioning the MSMEs to effectively leverage digital technology and communications to expand access to the One Africa Market.
For small businesses like Trisolace Farms, the training is a chance at going global with their snails and vegetables through effective communication.
“I have realized through this training that there is potential for us to penetrate markets outside Ghana through digital technology and communication. We will be intentional about our communications using some of the strategic communication tools we have learned from the training’’, stated Vanessa Agbemor, Communications Lead at Trisolace Farms.
To ensure appropriate actions at all levels for small businesses, the training has been extended to state institutions such as the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA), and the Food and Drugs Authority.
“We thanked UNDP for the strategic communications training for our team and looking forward to more partnerships to help upscale support for MSMEs in Ghana to make them more resilient’’, said Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Enterprises Agency.
At the decentralized level, six Municipal, Metropolitan, and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Business Resource Centers (BRCs), and Business Advisory Centers (BACs) whose actions are critical to the development of MSMEs at the local level have benefited from the capacity building exercise.
“The training has been very eye-opening for us. Moving forward, the assembly will be activating its digital communications platforms to enable us to interact effectively with all our stakeholders, especially small businesses to allow us to respond quickly to their needs’’, noted Louis Aggrey, Sefwi-Wiawso Municipal Planning Officer.
Despite the monumental challenges brought by COVID-19, it has also presented a unique opportunity to revolutionize economies in a very significant way through youth and women-led innovations. The agenda to leave no one behind in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals will receive a major boost if we respond to this economic revolution by putting women and youth at the center of the recovery process. p