The African Development Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) are funding the establishment of 67 business resource centres (BRCs) across the country through the Rural Enterprises Programme.
The project, under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has so far seen the completion of 37 BRCs, financed by the African Development Bank, at an estimated cost of $14.6 million covering building, furnishing and office equipment.
Additional 30 BRCs are under construction across the country, financed by IFAD, which is also funding the operationalisation of the initial 37 centres.
The 37 completed centres have commenced operations since August 2020 as one stop enterprise support centres at the district level, providing a broad range of business development services to potential and existing entrepreneurs and enterprises.
They also operate as financial and investment facilitation hubs and business information repositories for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The BRCs are housed in specially designed and well-equipped office complexes that ensure effective delivery of quality services at the district level in line with the Industrial Transformation Agenda.
The office infrastructure is composed of a single storey building with reception area, offices for Staff, showroom, business café, conference/training room, meeting room, and additional offices for client advisory services.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the commissioning of the Bechem, Goaso, Konongo, Effiduase and Ejisu BRCs, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Alan Kyerematen, explained that the BRC concept was based on a public-private partnership (PPP) model, with public ownership of the physical assets and private management of operations.
He explained that the model allowed for strategic partnership between private-sector operators working with public sector institutions to deliver BDS nationwide.
Mr Kyerematen said the centres were also mandated to provide regulatory services for the Registrar General’s Department, Ghana Standards Authority, Food and Drugs Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Plant Protection and Regulatory Services Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, and the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies are also to benefit from those services.
Mr Kyerematen said the BRCs were to offer agency services for financial institutions, insurance and telecommunication companies.
There would be a roster of consultants and other professionals such as accountants, lawyers, business development specialists and engineers, who would complement the work of the core staff by providing services to clients as and when required, with oversight by the BRC Management Team, he said.
Mr Kwasi Attah-Antwi, National Director of Rural Enterprises Programme (REP), said prior to the establishment of the centres, the REP, through a tripartite arrangement with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), GRATIS and the district assemblies, had established 161 business advisory centres and 21 rural technology facilities (now technology solution centres.)
He said the Government, in 2017, took steps to realign the REP to be consistent with its agenda for industrial transformation anchored on 10-point pillars.
Significant changes were introduced originally not envisaged during the design of the programme, including the establishment of BRCs, which were fully embraced by the funding partners, Mr Attah-Antwi said, and commended the district assemblies for providing land to construct the centres.
Mrs Kosi Yankey Aryeh, the Executive Director of NBSSI, described the project as monumental for micro, small and medium enterprises, the backbone of the Ghanaian economy.
She said BRCs would complement the work of the NBSSI in strengthening MSMEs, especially at a time that many of them were struggling to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
She entreated businesses within the catchment areas of the centres to fully utilise their services to grow their businesses.