Business News of 2014-08-26

First African SME Summit slated for Thursday

The maiden African SME Summit under the auspices of Creative Trends and Graphic Business will be held in Accra from Thursday, August 28 to Saturday, August 30, 2014.

The event, which is expected to attract delegates from Ghana, among others will be on the theme; “Small companies; Big Impact.”

Some of the topics outlined for the three-day summit include: Challenges of the SME owner, growth and development; technology and infrastructure and building sustainable enterprises.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Convener of the summit, Mr Yaw Asamoah, said “It is our hope that we can start a new discussion on business and its correlation in changing societies and the fortunes of the masses.”

“We seek to be very scientific in our approach and project a new discourse of responsibility, values, ideals and standards,” he added.

Defining SMEs

The definition of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across countries and continents vary.

For instance, in Ghana, the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) defines an SME as a company with a turnover of USD$200,000 and above, but not beyond $5 million.

The Venture Capital Trust Fund Act 2004, Act 680 also defines SMEs as an industry/project/undertaking or economic activity whose total asset base, excluding land and building, does not exceed the cedi equivalent of USD$1 million.

In South Africa, the National Small Business Act (102 of 1996) has a wide definition for SMEs, varying from USD$5 million turnover to USD$30 million and employing about 200 people.

But within the European Union (EU), it is USD$43 million in asset and USD$50 million turnovers.

The World Bank, on the other hand is of the view that SMEs are those that have USD$15 million in asset and USD$15 million in turnover.

On the average about 90 per cent of all businesses worldwide are SMEs, employing close to 70 per cent of the working population.

The Ghanaian situation

Mr Asamoah said in Ghana and to a large extent Africa, businesses had their peculiar challenges which included infrastructure, human capital, advisory services, credit, research and many other things.

He said “These challenges most of the time are laid at the doorstep of political leadership, but we at the African SME Summit believe that it’s high time we stopped the cancer of the blame game, excuses, procrastination, self-pity and irresponsibility and begin to have a positive look at the potential of SMEs to transform our economy”.

Mr Asamoah was of the view that governments were a microcosm of the same societies people lived in, hence the support from all to enable it to function to the satisfaction of the people.

“Our societies are getting dysfunctional by the day; we are not confident to even teach our kids their mother tongue, we have become a people of form and not substance; our philosophical underpinnings are getting shallow by the day,” he lamented, adding that “We fall short of defining what our common values, ideals and standards are. In short, we have stopped thinking”.

According to him, the new cliché is that Africa is rising but “the question is, from where, how and by which means?”

“It is high time society also contributed in knowledge, technology, trade, inventions to the world and this should be done with finesse,” he said.

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