Haggai Achiaa and Martha Fosua are hairdressers and members of Consercative Hair Dressers Association (CHDA) in Nkoranza in the Bono East Region of Ghana. Their business had not been yielding much profit because of high operation fees imposed on them by the Municipal Assembly. This was the plight shared by about 150 members of CHDA. The situation has now changed. Members are beginning to make decent profits and able to expand their businesses and sustain their families after receiving support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund.
The exorbitant business operation fees imposed on the association by the Nkoranza Municipal Assembly was crippling and collapsing businesses and ultimately affecting the revenue target of the Assembly. “Our accounts were in bad shape and sometimes we even felt we were being cheated by our bankers,” stated Mr Kofi Asante, the General Secretary of the association.
In 2017, the leadership of CHDA sought the support of the BUSAC Fund to carry out advocacy to save their livelihoods. “We were not part of the deliberations during fee fixing meetings so we advocated for space to be provided for us at the table,” stated Fosua, Chairperson of the association.
A capacity-building training program organised by the BUSAC Fund equipped members with the necessary skills to advocate effectively. Based on the support from the BUSAC Fund, the association embarked on an advocacy action to get the Municipal Assembly to involve them in the fee fixing processes. The association engaged with the Municipal Chief Executive of Nkoranza, the Municipal Finance Officer and other stakeholders including dressmakers and small business operators. CDHA also engaged in sensitization and media activities to create awareness of their plight.
According to Fosua, the dialogue with the Assembly yielded positive results. The association has participated in every fee-fixing meeting of the Assembly, and this has created visibility and credibility for them. Members of the association are joyful over their success in renegotiating fees imposed on them by the Nkoranza Municipal Assembly.
Haggai says she has reinvested the savings made into another business venture. “I have added the sale of wigs and beads to hairdressing”. Unlike previously, she is no longer concerned about meeting her tax obligation and has enough to invest in her business. She believes the successes recorded by the hairdressers and small businesses are as a direct result of the support extended to the association by BUSAC Fund and its Development Partners DANIDA and USAID.
“We have gained recognition from both the Assembly and the general public. This has contributed to the increase in our membership”, stated Fosua. The membership of the association has increased from 150 to over 200 after the advocacy activities. The commitment level of members has also improved; they have agreed to increase their monthly dues from GHc2 to GHc5.
“We appreciate the support from BUSAC Fund because without them we would not have come this far”, emphasized Fosua.