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18.08.2005 General News

Poor bookkeeping hinders SMEs from loans


Kumasi, Aug 18, GNA - Banks in Kumasi have attributed the inability of Small and Medium-Scale Entrepreneurs (SMEs) to access loans to expand their businesses to either poor or complete lack of book-keeping. They contend that when the SMEs apply for loans and they are asked to bring their books for examination, they fail to turn up again. The banks say they do not expect the SMEs to hire the services of professional accountants, but the simple records of sales and expenditure to give them an idea of how they operate.

This came to light when Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister visited some selected banks in the metropolis on Wednesday to find out how best they could offer assistance to SMEs and small-scale traders who sell by the roadside, in record keeping.

He said his visit was necessitated by the daily influx of people, particularly these category of small traders to his office to either ask for assistance or how to access loans.

Mr. Andrew Akyampong, Area Manager of the Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), said experience has taught the banks to be careful when dealing with people who were not ready to submit to scrutiny. He said since the bank safeguards the money of its customers, it wants to make sure that when they want their money, the bank can readily give it to them and therefore needs to assure itself that the money it gives out as loans could be repaid.

Mr Akyampong said it was the bank's aim to help farmers increase food production and as such has been helping farmers, particularly cocoa farmers in the maintenance of their farms.

Miss Joyce Otchere, Senior Retails Manager, Barclays Bank in-charge of the Northern sector, said the tag given to the bank that it was an elitist or businessmen's bank was wrong.

She said in view of the realisation that the SMEs do not keep any books, the bank runs seminars for the small scale sector and stresses on the proper registration of businesses and the prompt payment of taxes, adding that the bank was ready to reach out to all sectors of the population.

At the SG-SSB Bank Main, Mr Paul Nuamah, Area Manager, said it was the first bank to introduce the granting of loans to workers and that it was also reaching out to drivers who can use their vehicles as collateral to access loans.

At the Ghana Commercial Bank Main, Mr Fred Odame Kane, Senior Manager, told the Regional Minister that it was now easy to grant loans since they are approved at the local level.

The only time when a loan application has to be referred to Accra is when it is over 30 million cedis and even here he added, its application is facilitated by recommendation from the branch where the person wants the loan.

Mr Kane said this was one of the innovation adopted by the bank, which included the setting up of credit committees in the various zones through out the country who deliberate on loan applications. He said the bank was also drawing up another package to help small and medium scale entrepreneurs and that even now the bank has brought its minimum deposits to 50,000 cedis to cater for all sectors of the society.

At the National Investment Bank (NIB), Mr John Brentum Addo told the Regional Minister that the bank was helping contractors who win contracts, including even those who do not have accounts with the bank. Mr. Magnus Noamesi, Branch Manager at Standard Chartered Bank said the bank has set up an SME unit, which sees to their interest. He said the bank was trying to demystify the impression that Standard Chartered was a elitist bank.

Mr Noamesi also added to the assertion that Ghanaians have not cultivated the habit of keeping proper books for their businesses and said it was a major factor in the inability of most businessmen to access loans.

The Regional Minister also visited ECOBANK where he was told that the bank also finances businessmen, contractors and the churches. Aug. 18 05