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Business News Sun, 9 Sep 2007

SMEs vital for development - EMPRETEC CEO

Accra, Sept. 09, GNA - Nana Tweneboa-Boateng, Chief Executive Officer of EMPRETEC Ghana Foundation, on Saturday called on the government to create an atmosphere that would promote the growth of small and medium scale enterprises to enhance the development of the country.

"The quality, efficiency and sustainability of the economy we develop, as a country shall be dictated, beside policy direction, by the dearth of entrepreneurship and commitment of entrepreneurs we have in the nation.

"That's the more reason why the government must continue the programme of creating enabling business environment to let the private sector assume its rightful role in the economy," Nana Tweneboa-Boateng stated at the end of a 10-day entrepreneurship development and capacity building workshop for SME's in Accra.

The workshop on the theme "Flagship 52nd" was organised by EMPRETEC Ghana in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector wing of the World Bank.

It was aimed at imparting high quality, growth-oriented, internationally competitive, modern business advice and access to technology and finance to private sector operators. Nana Tweneboa-Boateng noted that Africa continued to lag behind the other regions of the world in the pace of business reform, which must be reversed through pragmatic and bold business reforms focusing on the growth of SMEs.

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He said according to World Bank statistics for last year; two-thirds of African countries made at least one reform with Tanzania and Ghana ranked among the top 10 reformers.

The EMPRETEC Chief Executive said, "even though we were ranked among the top ten in the region, we still need to move into the international standard and among the world's best reformers". He said Ghana must consider several other areas of reform: making labour regulation more flexible, reducing the burden of paying taxes and speeding business entry and property registration. Nana Tweneboa-Boateng said we must also seek to introduce a unique business registration number, which would ensure that entrepreneurs would not have to register in person for the income tax, value added tax, customs and social security numbers.

The aim is to have data move around inside government, not to have entrepreneurs run around from one office to another, he said. He advised entrepreneurs to recognize and respond actively to the radical way the world was changing; "we as entrepreneurs will not survive in a world more challenging than ever before, you will face daunting challenges every day".

"To take on life in business, you will need confidence, creativity and enthusiasm in addition to technical knowledge.

"Sometimes our goals may seem like unobtainable fantasies, but the key to success lies in brining them into sharp focus, clarifying them and working out a documented plan to achieve them. If it is in your nature to dream, it should be in your nature to do it."

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Nana Tweneboa-Boateng said, "There are opportunities to excel in business more than ever before. There are so many funding opportunities but the opportunities are available to only those with demonstrable preparedness to take the opportunities and utilize them profitably".

Ms Brigid Amoako Operations Analyst of IFC pledged the determination of the organisation to lend more support to the private sector, particularly SMEs but noted that they had a greater role to play in order to access the financial opportunities.

SMEs must formalise their operations, which includes, strengthening financial management, obtaining and using credible market information, exhibit and demonstrate pragmatic business models, she said. She urged SMEs to take advantage of financial packages under the IFC's Private Enterprise Partnership for Africa (PEP Africa) and the SMEs Entrepreneurship Development Initiative (SME EDI). Ms Amoako noted that these packages were to make IFC's global expertise and regional knowledge available to SMEs. 09 Sept. 07

Source: GNA