A total of GHC 38 million has been earmarked for the second phase of the COVID-19 Response Grant Programme to support 350 Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as part of measures to spur the country’s economic recovery.
Scheduled to be rolled out next month, the grant would be disbursed to export firms, enterprises and companies owned by females, persons with disability, and the youth in sectors including agriculture/agro-processing, manufacturing and education.
Other designated sectors are textiles /garments, food /beverages, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and personal protective equipment, information communication technology, trade/ commerce and construction, transport and logistics.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the state institution in charge of the project,Mrs KosiYankey-Ayeh, announced this yesterday at a stakeholder engagement on the second phase of the programme in Accra.
The grant programme, under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project funded by the World Bank, was instituted last year to cushion SMEs against the economic effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In the first phase, Mrs YankeyAyeh said, 16,604 applications were received, out of which 6,875 applicants comprising 3,793 – females and 3,082 – males were validated.
She said between September 2021 and March 2022, a total of GHC 28.7 million was disbursed to 373 SMEs out of which 158 women-owned enterprises got a total of GHC 10.5 million
“Beneficiaries of the Grant Programme have created a minimum of 134 (82 males; 52 females) new permanent and 156 (76 males; 80 females) new casual jobs between September 2021 to March 2022
“Overall, the scheme has chalked over 90 per cent satisfaction rate based on an online survey conducted in March 2022,” she said and encouraged SMEs to take advantage of the opportunity.
Describing MSMEsas the backbone of Ghana’s economy and contributors to job and wealth creation, she said more initiatives would be rolled out to support and equip them to grow.
That, she said, would put them in the position to take advantage of the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area, a game changer for the post-COVID economic recovery and transformation of Ghana.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh noted that as a result of the economic woes brought about by COVID-19 and the Ukraine–Russia war, businesses were in need of urgent support to survive and expand.
She recalled that since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Agency implemented several strategic programmes and projects to ensure that businesses stayed afloat, including the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme, and Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS) of which over 300,000 businesses received support.
Currently, she said, the agency was implementing more than 11 programmes with partners with state-of-the-art technology platforms to deliver both financial services and non-financial services to businesses across the country.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR