Accra, Oct. 20, GNA – Women in the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) sector have been urged to solicit and invest in professional advice regarding financial decisions in order to better manage and grow their businesses.
Mrs Peggy Lokko, SME Banking Consultant, said it was important for women in the SME sector to get expert advice for their business as this would help prevent losses and also make them confident in their dealings with banks and other financial institutions.
She made the statements at the seventh Annual National Women’s Economic Dialogue and Finance Expo, organized by the Women’s Financial Information and Resource Centre, under the theme: “Assessing the contribution of women to the development of the economy”.
She explained that while bankers provided financial advice to the customers in the SME sector, they could not do it all, especially as some women in the sector did not save with banks.
“For those who do not have banking relationships, it is good to invest in little consulting firms that go to their doorsteps trying to help build them up,” she stated, adding that such consultants do not charge much, but can help business women through the financial advice they give.
She said when small business women get expert advice on their finances, it makes accessing credit easier for them and also for the banks, who usually only supplemented whatever knowledge they assume that clients have on their finances.
“Otherwise the banks turn most of them away because they are the riskiest…we expect them to have a certain knowledge if they want to do finance wise, even including selection of their markets, which makes lending to them easy,” she said.
She also urged them to take advantage of workshops and seminars on SMEs where they could learn by attending such programmes or getting their associations to bring resource persons to help them, as it will go a long way to make their businesses viable.
Mrs Lokko said the low financial literacy among this category of businesses underlined the need for continued capacity building for and more importantly making such training practical for them while remaining patient with those who were slow learners.
“There are a lot of women who started with nothing and today they are importing; they have brands they are controlling. We are all like them but they were willing to learn, willing to work with the banks, and willing to take advices that were chipped in here and there,” she stated.
She stressed further the importance of small businesses knowing and understanding the products that banks offer and the benefits that they would get from these products as banks have several products that were intended for specific needs.
“For example if you are an importer; naturally as an importer, there’s a cycle that you follow and some types of facilities will not suit you, it will just waste your time so it is good for them to seek advice from the banks to get the appropriate product,” she said.
She also advised them not take the God-factor out of their businesses as everything done was based on “Godly principles and prayer would work”.
Mrs Constance Baah, Head of the Gender Unit at the Ministry of Finance, took the participants through government’s social interventions such as the Livelihoods Empowerment against Poverty (LEAP), school feeding programme and others which were geared towards supporting the poor and vulnerable in society, especially women who were the majority in this category.
She said government was committed to the sustenance of these programmes and was making efforts to finance them from domestic revenues in the light of dwindling donor support.
She urged women to come up with innovative ways on how to help finance social interventions in their communities, and also called on them to support government’s efforts to address issues like ‘streetism’, child trafficking and child labour by reporting instances of these problems.