How are small scale businesses in rural communities applying for the stimulus funds (online)

Posted on  July 13, 2020 

Categories:   Community response

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to have a significant adverse impact on the global economy and Ghana is not exempted. Already, numerous Ghanaian businesses are feeling the pinch from having to shut down their facilities for a while with others having to stop production due to measures put in place to stem or prevent a further spread of the disease. It is against this backdrop that Government has put in place fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on Ghanaians and also to provide relief for businesses and households. The President Nana Akufo-Addo, on April 5, 2020 announced a soft loan scheme of up to GH¢600 million for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises, SMEs which would sustain the country's affected industries and address the disruption in economic activities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This move has been welcomed by most Ghanaians but most are not enthused about the disbursement procedures. In Sefwi Wiawso in the Western North Region, the vulnerable including People with Disabilities and women are unsure about how they can access the stimulus package. The President of the Western North Disability Organisations, Kwame Darkoh recounted how badly the group has been affected by the pandemic. Kwame, self-employed added “I have lost all of my working capital, I have no money because business was down, and I had to close my shop because patronage was low. I used the money to cater for my family”. Other members of the group also shared the same sentiments and how it will be difficult to start all over again. Some women mostly traders also mentioned that they have lost so much since business was slow. Serwaa Amoako, a provisions shop owner said “there’s nothing in my shop and I have also spent all the money, the kids are home and all they do is eat, it will be difficult for me.” Before the pandemic, these women were economically independent.

So we asked if they had any knowledge of the stimulus funds from Government to cushion small scale businesses during this period. Most responses were that they had heard of it but did not know how to access it.  Madam Amoako explained that she heard of it on radio but the application process being online is something she can’t do since she has no access to internet. Another trader alleged that “I know about it but I hear it is for only card bearers of the National Patriotic Party, NPP”. Some members of the regional disability organisation also mentioned that information on the stimulus fund is scanty and that has left most of them uncertain on how to access it. They appealed to government to channel the application process through the district assemblies where they can easily access it instead of using an online portal.

Government, in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries ,NBSSI, Business and Trade Associations and selected commercial and rural banks has rolled out the soft loan scheme totaling GH¢600 million, which will have a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period for micro, small and medium scale businesses in the country.

By Marie Aziz Tunde