Ensuring SME health in COVID-19 times

Ensuring SME health in COVID-19 times

The article was first published on Graphic Online

The COVID-19 pandemic has so far ravaged countries globally and the economic repercussions of it cannot be overestimated.

There is, therefore, the need for concerted efforts in cushioning Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana to recover, post this period.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has launched the ‘Save our SMEs’ initiative, as a platform to campaign on how to respond to this global crisis.

It is expected that member countries of the ICC, including Ghana, would take a cue and have home-grown strategies to lessen the negative impact of the pandemic. It is on that note that I call on the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) to think on the following, as part of the broader ideas to insulate the already fragile SME sector.

There is already a forecast of capital flights from the financial markets at the moment. There is also an anticipation of a fundamental shift from investment to capital hoarding which will affect capital to SMEs.

Another unprecedented economic recession is not far-fetched, as profit losses and economic quarantine are in sight. Even though many businesses will suffer disruptions, there must be ways to get SMEs thriving.

It is a reasonable expectation that the GNCCI by now has garnered the ideas, resources and strategies to confront the challenges of COVID-19.

What is needed is coordinated action, with the view to positioning the SMEs to benefit from economic stimulus incentives provided by the government for businesses. This is critical to prevent SMEs from losing out on these packages to larger companies.


First, a dedicated channel of communication and a medium (a common website) to inform firms and policymakers on the prospects of players in the sector to receive support and address their challenges are critical.

This is crucial at this period when most businesses are working from home due to past lockdown measures and continuing preventive protocols.

Information sharing, therefore, becomes more necessary than any other factor. Any neglect of this would be calamitous to the sector. However, the caution is that businesses must be protected from cybercrimes which may increase in this period.

Second, business health checks must be usual during this period. Apart from the focus on the human and social health of people and countries, attention must not be lost on the critical elements of healthy businesses, to keep tracking the overall health of the SME sector.

It is important to realise that a thorough assessment of these conventional elements will reveal a lot more about the challenges of the SMEs for the appropriate solutions. This will aid in proffering better remedies for improving conditions for the businesses in Ghana.

Thus, the businesses will know their current state of affairs and identify how synergies could be built on their strengths for a vibrant sector in the future. A good business health check will be a basis for financial counselling for these firms to withstand the shocks ahead.


Third, it would be unthinkable to assume that Ghana can battle the challenges ahead alone since Ghanaian businesses engage in cross-border trading globally. While some of the challenges may be localised, the fact is that some challenges will have global dimensions.

It is recommended that the GNCCI initiate international networking with experts to take advantage of international technological platforms to plan and engage in a series of brainstorming to find solutions.

Activating international community instinct, networking and responses, are crucial in this circumstance. Online forums are, therefore, practical to create an avenue for the interaction of businesses through virtual moderation.

In conclusion, the GNCCI must come to terms with the enormous challenges ahead for the economy, now and for the long term; even after the COVID-19 pandemic as we experience a business slowdown, increased marketing costs, difficulty in finding new ways to reach customers, difficulty in managing and coordinating remote workforce and maximising productivity.

What is needed now is leadership, motivation and the foresight to coordinate all ideas in a manner to cover the backs of SMEs against all eventualities.

There must be a clear crisis recovery blueprint for the government on SMEs for policymaking.

 *The author is an International Trade Finance Expert and Policy Advocate: (A member of the ICC’s Working Group on MSMEs and Trade in the COVID-19):

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