Social enterprises ready for AfCFTA

An initiative meant to empower social enterprises in the country to be able to explore opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is underway.

Spearheaded by the Social Enterprises (SE) Ghana (the umbrella body of social enterprises in the country), the initiative seeks to provide social enterprises with the needed impetus to also profit from Africa’s over 1.2 billion consumers under the agreement.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SE Ghana, Ms Amma Lartey, made this known to the Graphic Business at the Ghana Social Enterprise Forum on Thursday, November 19 in Accra.

The forum on the theme: “Social Enterprise: Catalyst for Economic Empowerment,” the forum was attended by members and other affiliates of the association across the country.

The forum created a platform for the contribution of social entrepreneurs towards the country’s economy to be celebrated.

It was organised in partnership with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), British Council, Reach for Change, Springboard Road Show Foundation and the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.

Need to prepare

Ms Lartey underscored the need for social enterprises to be adequately prepared in order to harness the market opportunities the AfCFTA presents.

As a result, she said there was still work to be done to educate the private sector on both the opportunities and threats that this agreement comes with and work to develop a competitive AfCFTA strategy.

“Implementation of AfCFTA is currently at the beginning stages and therefore businesses must prepare, they must now begin to see the whole Africa as their market.

“Consequently, SE Ghana has started preparing our members to take advantage,” he said.

The AfCFTA becomes operational on January 1, 2021, and it is expected to create the world’s largest free-trade zone with over 1.2 billion consumers, a potential US$3 trillion economy and zero tariffs on goods traded across countries.

Social enterprise policy

For his part, the Executive Director of SE Ghana, Mr Edwin Zu-Cudjoe, said his office was working with the government and other relevant duty bearers in drafting and promoting a social enterprise policy.

He said the SE Ghana has trained more than 20,000 social enterprise beneficiaries and partners across the country.

“About 68 of its members have also been assisted to access financial assistance from the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS),” he said.

Mr Zu-Cudjoe added that SE Ghana has trained 826 women and youth to access government services.

“Social Enterprise Ghana is the network of high impact social enterprises and entrepreneurs operating in Ghana.

“It has a registered membership of 590 businesses nationwide operating in climate-smart agribusiness, agroforestry, waste management and recycling, health services, education, technology, among others, to solve challenges for the poor, vulnerable, and marginalised in an inclusive and dignified way.

A Trade Policy Analyst at NBSSI, Mr Sampson Abankwa, said the MSME ecosystem was too huge a responsibility for only one institution to bear.

He said it was necessary for financial institutions to regularly partner each other to solve problems peculiar to the sector.

According to him, Ghana was considered as one of the countries in the world with the largest number of female entrepreneurs.

Mr Abankwa said more than 90 per cent of businesses in the country belonged to the informal sector and NBSSI would ensure that most of them were formalised to increase economic development.

He said the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic brought out a lot of challenges to the economy and the few who survived were those who had incorporated a little bit of technology in their businesses.

He said the NBSSI would in the near future, engage relevant partners in training MSMEs to have structures that would add a digital touch to their way of running their businesses.