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The Government of Ghana, through the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), celebrated the achievements and impact of its Technical Assistance and Grant Programmes for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on August 3, 2023. The event brought together gallant entrepreneurs from diverse sectors to recognize and support the growth of these businesses.

The Technical Assistance and Grant Programmes include the Youth in MSME, Women   MSME, and the SME High Growth Programmes, all of which are funded by the World Bank under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project.

The SME High Growth Programme, which was piloted in October 2022 has been focused on technical assistance which involves a 4-month intensive business management training and capacity upgrade/mentoring plan. The SME High Growth Programme has now been implemented at full scale across the country since May 2023 following a successful pilot of the Programme. With the target to assist 2,000 High Growth SMEs across the country, the programme aims to boost productivity and competitiveness, enabling these businesses to scale up their operations, increase sales, and create sustainable jobs.

Additionally, the Youth in MSME Programme has extended the age limit to 40 years, encompassing young entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 to 40. This extension allows for greater inclusivity, welcoming businesses that previously could not participate due to age restrictions.

Furthermore, the Women MSME Programme exclusively supports female-owned enterprises, fostering gender diversity and empowerment within the business community.

Addressing the audience, the Honorable Minister expressed delight in announcing the 270 selected companies, ranging from Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, who have been awarded over GHS35 million in grants to fund various projects. These projects encompass machinery and equipment purchases, working capital, and last-mile infrastructure investments.

The Ghana Economic Transformation Project's past interventions have showcased remarkable success, with over GHS 65 million disbursed/committed to nearly 800 SMEs between September 2021 and January 2023. Notably, approximately 40 percent of the funding went to women-owned enterprises, emphasizing the importance of gender-balanced support for business growth.

Through the interventions, over 3,195 jobs have been sustained and created by 311 supported firms, a testament to the positive impact on job creation and economic growth in the region.

The Grant Programmes target MSMEs across various sectors, including Agriculture/Agro-processing, Construction, Education, Food and Beverages, Healthcare, ICT, Manufacturing, Textiles and Garments, Tourism and hospitality, Trade/Commerce in locally produced goods, and Transport and Logistics.

Ghana Enterprises Agency remains committed to supporting the growth and development of MSMEs, aiming to transform them into large Enterprises, that contribute significantly to Job creation and Economic Prosperity.

On February 20th, 2023, the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA) and Alliance for Integrity signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to implement the GEA Business Integrity (Pepeye) Project.

The objective of the Project is to adopt a multi-sectoral strategy through advocacy and business development services that make it easier for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly women-owned/led to establish the foundation of a successful Anti-Corruption and compliance programme.

The signing of the MoU to implement this Project solidifies our partnership which started in 2018, a few months after Mrs. Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey-Ayeh’s appointment as the first female Chief Executive Officer of GEA, formerly National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).

In 2022, Mrs. Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey-Ayeh was elected as the Chair of the Advisory Group in Ghana to lead and champion the Anti-Corruption crusade. The continuous and active engagement with GEA testifies to the fact that we find solutions and become stronger through collective actions.

From the very first meeting, the relevance of the work of Alliance for Integrity with the Ghana Enterprises Agency and above all for GEA’s clients, MSMEs in Ghana, was very clear to Mrs. Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey-Ayeh. Alliance for Integrity's practical approach to strengthening compliance and integrity in the day-to-day activities of firms resonates with the mandate and the priorities of GEA: “The government of Ghana is really committed to Anti-Corruption and transparency and is taking serious steps to address these issues and our Agency has a concrete mandate for a transformation that supports MSMEs”.

One of her priorities has been looking at Anti-Corruption with a gender lens: “There is a growing share of women entrepreneurs in Ghana who want to do things right and are keen to support each other”. Mrs. Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey-Ayeh is convinced that women are powerful change agents in the promotion of integrity and has therefore been a driving force behind the Alliance for Integrity Women for Integrity Series (WISe). Together with Alliance for Integrity Ghana and other partners, considerable work has already been done with others in progress and even more to be taken up. The WISe series has grown up to have more participants, partners, and a focused working group for designing an “Ethical Negotiation Training Toolkit” and Regional Exchanges with Asia and Latin America. Mrs. Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey-Ayeh said that “GEA is interested in actively using the WISe platform to reach out to stakeholders and work together in transforming the business environment. She argues that the degree of involvement of the informal sector in trade is often underestimated. Companies are extremely intertwined nowadays, and these linkages are rapidly expanding.

Small and informal firms in remote places are often connected to international supply chains in one way or another. Corruption increases the costs of business, especially for MSMEs, and hinders their ability for business and trade. Promoting transparency and integrity means creating more opportunities for small firms to do business, including for women-led firms. The MSMEs in Ghana widely share the view that there is a business case for integrity, but the case can only be won if all relevant actors work together. The MSMEs are interested in participating because collective action provides the leverage to deal with administrative and procurement integrity obstacles that cannot be solved individually. More so, they welcome having a forum to discuss challenges and co-create solutions to navigate difficult situations.

GEA continually underscores that the goal of its Anti-Corruption engagement is to create a business environment in which Ghana’s MSMEs can succeed and thrive. Working at the grassroots level and using the convening ability of GEA to create a space for difficult conversations have been key elements for the successful collaboration with the Alliance for Integrity. Even the smallest of firms in Ghana is in a position to name corruption challenges, but the issues do not come up and cannot be systematically addressed without a safe forum for discussions and the stewardship of the public sector. This can be done by providing training materials, developing exchange formats, and fostering the international exchange of experiences in dealing with corruption.

The Alliance for Integrity Secretariat has been instrumental in making the best use of these spaces. Going forward, GEA will be engaging with partners within the Alliance for Integrity network and those others in the Ghanaian business environment to continually push the collective action agenda for more complaint business engagements based on its partnership with AfIn and in line with its mandates.

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