The Managing Director of Bank of Africa (BoA), Mr. Kobby Andah, says Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) have been at the heart of the bank’s operations.
Against this backdrop, he says the bank is making available special packages to support SMEs to grow in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He stated that the bank is supporting SMEs because they do not have the capacity to withstand the effects of the pandemic like what the multinational companies have.
SMEs are “a prime segment of BOA Group” he said, while speaking during a webinar for SME business owners and entrepreneurs organized by Bank of Africa (BOA) on Tuesday July 28.
“Unfortunately they don’t have the clout the big multinational companies have to navigate their way out.
We have taken it upon ourselves to provide them with that opportunity. Our businesses have to be sustained in the Covid,” Mr. Andah said.
Dr. Amanobea Boateng, Founder & CEO, Women’s DNA Fund, Female Entrepreneurship and SME Development Expert, who also spoke at the event told the gathering of over 150 businesses owners that businesses will need to take advantage of modern technology to operate during this period.
“Let’s invest in ourselves now; let’s invest in our businesses and see how we can move the business into the future. Let’s take advantage of technology,” she noted.
Taaka Awori, CEO of Busara Africa and a Leadership Trainer and Certified Executive Coach, also said businesses need leaders who can think outside the box to enable their firms to grow.
“Businesses need leaders who are disrupters” she said.
“People who think outside the box are always ahead since they desire to change the status quo, they are innovative. These are game changers, these leaders disrupt themselves before they are disrupted.
They are able to see opportunity in a crisis,” she said.
Taaka Awori urged all leaders to be agile; as that is critical in times like this for business survival and growth.
Akofa Dakwa, Executive Head, Risk Management & Financial Markets & Risk Management Expert, Bank of Africa, noted that there are a number of measures that businesses, especially SMEs, can implement to enable them continue to stay in business during this period of the coronavirus pandemic.
She explained that COVID-19 is wreaking havoc to all businesses across the globe, hence businesses must adopt aggressive measures to withstand the effect of the virus.
Mrs. Dakwa said among other things that what businesses will need to do at the moment is to review their business plans and their entire operations.
The businesses will need to adjust their business plans and operations to focus on profitable exiting and new areas and also cut waste. They have to optimize pricing structures – employ job costing, review and renegotiate terms to optimize profit margins, receivables management, automate invoicing system, negotiate upfront payments, and offer convenient payment methods”
She said the businesses would have to do cash flow forecasting – weekly, monthly and yearly projections and keep buffers.
She further noted that the lack of access to credit is often cited by business owners as one of the key challenges to their growth and expansion.
“SMEs have peculiar challenges with accessing finances. Banks often find it difficult to meet the needs of SMEs because their businesses are not structured. SMEs need to maintain bookkeeping, use the banking system for all transactions to show good banking turnovers, show proof of market access, good business plans, competence and skills, show proof of track record, good corporate governance and succession plans.”
She said Bank of Africa (BOA) is offering credit reliefs to SMEs to keep them afloat in the wake of the coronavirus through cost relief, reduction in interest and charges, availability of payment and transaction channels, internet banking, advisory or capacity building; network confirmation of suppliers and buyers, trade finance and vehicle finance.
With regards to risk management, she advised businesses to have a risk management plan that should detail strategies for dealing with all specific risks to reduce the impact of uncertainties.
“The businesses will need to have a continuity plan that should cover employees, the owner, premises, IT systems and softwares used, markets, customers and suppliers”.