Government is to provide competitive grants for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with the aim of expanding the scopes of their respective business activities to be financed by World Bank’s commitment of US$200 million in supporting the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project.
This measure is expected to create additional employment in the private sector and it is scheduled to begin this year.
Provision of these grants is part of a four-component programme meant to enhance skills development and job generation under the Ghana Jobs and Skills Project, an initiative developed to tackle the high rate of unemployment in the country which is expected to be implemented over a five year period.
The remaining three components of the project include Provision of Apprenticeship and Entrepreneurship Support to Individuals for Jobs; Operationalization of the Ghana Labor Market Information System; Upgrade of District Public Employment Centers and Services; and Capacity Development, Technical Assistance, and Project Management Support for Enhanced Skills and Jobs Impact.
Instructively, the private sector which is considered to be the engine of growth has difficulties in accessing credit facility from various financial institutions for business expansion purposes.
Importantly, the move taken by government with support from the World Bank is expected to position small businesses to take advantage of and exploit opportunities generated by the yet to be implemented Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA) – of which some trade experts and institutions including the World Bank, have cautioned Ghana to institute strong policy measures to avert possible adverse shocks to local businesses from their impending exposure to competition from duty free imports from all around Africa.
In Ghana, it is estimated that SMEs contribute more than 70 percent of Ghana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and account for 92 out of every 100 businesses. Globally, the contribution of small enterprises to the growth of national economies is considered as significant. Thus, based on such important contribution, any financial support such as this grant will come as a measure to boosting the competitiveness of the private sector.
The primary target groups for the Ghana Jobs and Skills project include individuals seeking skills and jobs; master craft persons; cooperatives and associations; private enterprises and their workforces; as well as public and private training providers.