Stakeholders in the Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprises (MSME) have called for special interest rates to apply for businesses owned by women to ensure easy access to funds to improve on their operations
They argued that demands for land or landed property as collateral for loans for businesses owned by women should be scrapped to enhance women's access to funds, as some women in the country could not own land due to some cultural practices.
They made these proposals during a stakeholders' consultation workshop in Tamale at the weekend on mainstreaming gender in the National MSME Policy.
The day's workshop was organised by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI), the National Board for Small Scale Industries and the International Trade Centre, an international consultancy firm, to collate views of stakeholders to incorporate into the National MSME Policy to help improve on businesses owned by women.
The National MSME Policy, which is going through approval processes, seeks to facilitate long term development framework for that sector by ensuring the attainment of expansion in decent jobs, and closing the poverty gap through the development of businesses.
Statistics by the MoTI indicates that 92 per cent of businesses in the country, representing 2.1 million businesses, is in the MSME sector and they employ about eight million people.
The statistics further revealed that 1.7 million businesses out of the 2.1 million businesses are owned by women.
However, while some women's businesses are doing well, others face some challenges that need to be addressed to further improve on their operations.
It has therefore become necessary to mainstream gender considerations in the National MSME Policy to push them up to promote equity and equality in the distribution of incomes in the country.
Other participants suggested the creation of special desks to register businesses owned by women and decentralise the process to ease access to such services instead of referring them to regional and national levels to seek services.
They further suggested that efforts be made to regularly train women who own MSMEs to be innovative to deliver on market demands as well as assist them to register their operations to formalise their status to enable them benefit from available opportunities and incentives.
On access to market, some participants suggested the need for women entrepreneurs to form cooperatives to agree on prices for their products to avoid exploitation by some customers.
Mr Kassim Abu Imoro, Managing Director of Maltiti Enterprise, indicated that what MSMEs needed was to have access to affordable funds to enable them expand and sustain their operations, and expressed the need for government to institute measures that would lead to low interest rates.
Mr Raphael Awiagah, Research and Process Officer at the Business Regulatory Reform Unit of the MoTI, lauded the contributions of the stakeholders, and said their inputs would be standardised and incorporated into the National MSME Policy.
Mr Awiagah said a climax workshop would soon be held after which validation workshops would follow in October to fine-tune the inputs of stakeholders to incorporate them into the National MSME Policy for approval.