The MTN Ghana Foundation is enriching the lives of many Ghanaians by developing their economic capacity through the provision of resources under its economic empowerment programme.
The objective is to develop the capacity of marginalised groups, particularly the physically challenged and school drop outs, through the provision of resources such as skills training, financial support, equipment and machinery, toolkits, technology, micro-business units and mentorship, among others, for commercially viable enterprises.
It is also to encourage and support young people with good business ideas to start their own businesses.
These came out during a two-day training workshop for Journalists for Business Advocacy (JBA) on how to report accurately and adequately on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country.
The workshop, sponsored by the Business Advocacy and Challenge (BUSAC) Fund and MTN Ghana Foundation, was meant to adequately equip the journalists to enhance their reports and assist to promote the private sector.
The journalists who were drawn from across the country had the platform to discuss a wide range of issues including over-taxation of SMEs, the macro-economic environment, poor business documentation and media advocacy tools.
The Senior Manager for MTN Ghana Corporate Communications, Ms Georgina Asare Fiagbenu, said the foundation intended to support entrepreneurial and economic activities of rural enterprises, start-up businesses in the informal sector (farmer groups, etc.), sustainable eco-friendly enterprises and Information Technology (IT) and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related services and products.
She said the total investments per micro project was a minimum GH¢5,000 and a maximum GH¢10,000, with a focus on capital investment and capacity building.
Outlining procedures governing the foundation, Ms Fiagbenu said every participant in the scheme was given business training as part of the package, adding that for the pilot project, the foundation enlisted individuals who were already in some sort of trade or small business.
“All enlisted individuals are mandated to open a bank account with a rural bank or the nearest bank which will be negotiated by MTN Ghana, and they must also sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to work with the bank or a third party to practise basic book-keeping to help generate financial records and input monitoring and evaluation reports,” she said.
A senior manager with MTN Ghana Foundation, Mr Robert Kuzoe, said globally, the MTN Foundation concentrated on four focus areas: Health, Education, Economic Empowerment & Music, Arts & Culture.
He said the foundation also decided to focus on Health and Education for the formative years due to its critical role in fostering the well-being of communities.
According to him, in April 2011, the MTN Ghana Foundation Board approved the addition of Economic Empowerment focus to the activities of the Foundation. This was primarily to implement lessons learnt from the MTN Nigeria Foundation and also to get the opportunity to explore other areas of support.
The General Secretary of JBA, Mr Suleiman Mustapha, bemoaned the various challenges facing SMEs in relation to access to capital, lack of publicity, poor finishing and packaging of products as well as limited access to skills.
He thus called for government’s support at both the local and national level to develop SMEs in the country.
He said they must set a priority, determine national policies related to SME development and promotion and added that in developing such policies, the participatory approach should be adopted, which required that representatives of SMEs should be consulted and involved during all stages; from the identification and formulation of programmes till their implementation at both national and district levels.
The BUSAC Fund approved GH¢11.24 million for 362 business associations in all the 10 regions of the country to undertake projects such as infrastructure, standardisation, access to market, value chain, capacity building, and enforcement.
In addition to this, the Fund also created an application system to receive, screen, evaluate, select, approve and verify grant approvals.