Panellists at the Graphic Business/Access Bank SME Clinic in Kumasi have called on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to embrace technology to improve and grow their businesses.
They said small businesses must move with the time and take advantage of the digital revolution to become competitive.
According to the speakers, business owners could take advantage of social media platforms such as WhatApp, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to promote their businesses rather than sharing pictures and dabbling in unnecessary funfair.
Sharing his experience at the second edition of the Graphic Business/ Access Bank SME Clinic, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Boris B Farms, Mr Boris Baidoo, said he had made a lot of sales by sharing some of his products on social media and expressed the belief that going digital did not require much investment from companies.
According to him, businesses should be able to leverage the current social media platforms available to promote their products and grow.
Mr Baidoo said it should be possible for managers to communicate or share information with their staff through social media which would improve efficiency.
For his part, the CEO of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, noted that it could not be business as usual for SMEs again and that the earlier they embraced the new change, the better.
He said it had become more imperative for businesses to go digital with the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) where all the markets would be accessible to the participating countries.
That, Mr Twum-Akwaboah said, would make the market more competitive and those who refused to innovate might even lose their local markets to foreigners.
The CEO of AGI pointed out that the digital world was a global market and asked businesses to take advantage of it to market their products and also expand.
All the speakers admitted that the commonest lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic for the business sector was the need for businesses to find innovative ways to survive during such periods.
They noted that most businesses had to find alternative ways of reaching out to their customers rather than waiting for the clients to walk to their offices to make purchases.
According to the panellists, the online payment platforms had also made it easier to trade online compared to the old form of trading where man-hours would have to be spent travelling to and from the stores.
The former New Patriotic Party Member of Parliament (MP) for Manso Nkwanta, Mr Joseph Albert Quarm, who is also a publisher, underscored the importance of digitisation which, he said, was now the future and those who failed to embrace it would be left behind.
He said very soon, e-commerce would be the order of the day for which reason it should be possible for businesses to trade online, irrespective of their line of operation.
Notwithstanding all the benefits of the digitisation, the CEO of B Adams Trading Enterprise Limited, Mr Baba Adu Adams Owusu, cautioned businesses to be wary of scammers who were hovering around to rip people off.
He said there should be a security system to protect businesses from falling prey to the cyber scammers and to protect people’s investments.
Strong Internet infrastructure
The guest of honour, the Omanhene of Domeabra, Nana Baffour Owusu Bediako, also appealed to the government to invest in Internet infrastructure, particularly, in the rural areas to help businesses in those localities to also capitalise on the digital space to create jobs.
He said for businesses to grow and harness the dividends of the digital space would require a very reliable Internet connectivity, hence, the call on the government to extend facilities to all corners of the country.
Through that, Nana Bediako added, the government would also be supporting the growth of businesses and job creation in the country.
The Deputy Editor of the Daily Graphic, Mr Theophilus Yartey, who stood in for the Editor, Mr Kobby Asmah, said Kumasi was chosen as the host city for the clinic for varied reasons.
“Kumasi is a well-known hospitality city, but we also settled on it because it is not lost on us the sheer number of entrepreneurs and SMEs this city can boast of,” he said.
He said the meeting was to focus on how businesses could leverage digitisation to improve the relevance of their businesses and to become more efficient in their operations.
“So, we are here basically to discuss ways of improving your businesses through digitisation and introduce you to modern tools that could help businesses such as yours scale up and grow into national brands,” Mr Yartey said.
For his part, the Divisional Head of Retail Banking of Access Bank, Mr Stephen Abban, noted the important role the SMEs played in the development of the country.
He said about 90 per cent of the jobs in the country were created by SMEs and “they contribute close to 70 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
In spite of their importance, Mr Yartey, who is also the Editor of Graphic Business, said SMEs had not got the right recognition and as a country and “it is about time we did that.”
He said it was in that vein that Access Bank had decided to champion the growth of SMEs through digitisation with advisory services to keep up with the demands of the time.
The programme was over subscribed and participants were mainly traders, agroprocessors and farmers and those into livestock production.
Source: Daily Graphic|Ghana