The Minister of Business Development, Dr Mohamed Ibrahim Awal, has announced plans by the government to set up a special fund to support small businesses to expand their operations and create more jobs.
“We want to help small businesses to move to the next level and expand to employ more workers. Stagnant businesses cannot create jobs, but with support, they can scale up their businesses,” he said.
The ‘Startup and Small Businesses Fund’, Dr Awal said, would be a $20-million facility for capital investment and would be rolled out in the middle of next year to augment initiatives already introduced by the government to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
He said it would provide financial support for young businesses at interest rates lower than 10 per cent.
Dr Awal announced this when he interacted with the 2019 winners of the 40 under 40 Awards during a courtesy call on him in his office in Accra yesterday.
The initiative, he further explained, would enable young businesses to access funding and create employment and wealth.
The minister advised the winners, who are owners of businesses, to provide the needed training and mentorship for young entrepreneurs and students by offering them internship training opportunities.
He said the ministry had so far introduced some initiatives, such as the Student Entrepreneurship Initiative and the Presidential Pitch, and capacity building and financial support for young entrepreneurs, also known as the Presidential Business Support Programme (PBSP), with the objective of providing structured entrepreneurship and business development training for young entrepreneurs, among others.
Dr Awal encouraged the entrepreneurs to partner the government in programmes such as the One-district, One-factory to help add value to local raw materials and also honour their tax obligations.
To become owners of globally competitive businesses, the minister asked entrepreneurs to “look beyond Ghana and be innovative and creative”.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP), Mr John Kumah, said the growth of small businesses was pivotal to the vision of the government to achieve a Ghana beyond aid status.
“When the government says it is committed to supporting businesses, it means business.
There are a number of opportunities available. So far, we have trained 19,000 applicants across the country and more than GH¢60 million has been disbursed in the last two years,” he added.
The Chief Executive Officer of Xodus Communications, organisers of the 40 under 40 Awards, Mr Richard Abbey Jnr, entreated the Ministry of
Business Development to continue to provide financial and technical support for entrepreneurs.
He also called on the government to consider tax exemptions for young businesses to make them more competitive.