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20.07.2004 Business & Finance

Entrepreneurs assured of credit facility

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Ho, July 20, GNA - Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) owners in the Volta Region have been assured of assistance to prepare them to access funds under the Italian Government Credit Facility to SMEs to purchase equipment and machinery.

Mrs Peace Ayisi-Okyere, Project Consultant, gave the assurance in response to questions raised by SME owners at the launch of the Facility in the Volta Region on Tuesday.

"You can come unprepared and we will help you to prepare. All you need is to have a business plan based on truthful information to the consultant," Mrs Ayisi-Okyere assured them.

The credit facility worth 10 million Euros was the result of an agreement between the governments of Ghana and Italy in October 2003 to provide soft loans to SMEs to purchase machinery and equipment under the Ghana Private Sector Development Fund (GPSDF). SMEs with annual turnovers of between 300 million cedis and 4.5 billion cedis and employ between five and 300 people are eligible to access the facility.

She said with good record keeping and accounting most enterprises in the Volta Region would realise that they could meet the 300 million cedis turnover required to access the facility.

Mrs Ayisi-Okyere said the Volta Region was not necessarily a micro-business centre and that with good business and management practices the region could grow several manufacturing SMEs as limited liability companies instead of sole proprietorships.

Mr Pietro Bucci, the Italian Project Co-ordinator, said the minimum turnover level of 300 million cedis could be considered if the activities of the particular enterprises involved were priority areas for the country.

He said farming activities that involved some processing such as pineapple juice production could be considered though farming per se would not be supported.

Mr Bucci explained that requests for start-up support for enterprises were being considered.

He explained that preferential considerations would be available to SMEs characterised by female labour, labour intensive, agro-industry or food processing, Italian participation in ownership and foreign participation.

Mr Bucci said the Italian government could increase the support in the future if the current facility was well utilised. In an address read for him Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister for Private Sector Development, said the SME sector constituted 80 percent of the private sector.

He said one of the objectives of the facility was to help local businesses to move from trading characterised by buying and selling into production as a means of strengthening the economy. Mr Bartels expressed regret at the perception in some sections of the business community that "Government money and or donor assistance funds are "free money" and therefore must not be paid back". He said unless such credits were paid back access to new facilities would be blocked.

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