Mastercard Foundation, in partnership with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), has announced the creation of an Emergency Program to support micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and start-ups in Ghana during the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Program, with an initial commitment of approximately GHC90 million from Mastercard Foundation and NBSSI, is in line with the government’s support for Ghanaian MSMEs and will receive additional investment from other donors and institutions.

The Program will focus on supporting the following MSMEs and start-ups:

· MSMEs who need support to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

· Businesses in growth sectors where the employment of young people, especially young women, will be negatively impacted as a result of business operation disruptions, supply chain challenges, liquidity shortages, declining sales and profits, and business closures. 

· Businesses providing services that will be in demand during the pandemic and that have the potential to grow and positively impact communities affected by COVID-19.

· Businesses that will focus on digitization to support MSMEs.

The creation of the NBSSI Mastercard Foundation Recovery and Resilience Program for MSMEs follows the Foundation’s recent announcement of its West, Central and Northern Regional office opening in Accra to drive its Young Africa Works strategy in the region. 

Young Africa Works, developed in consultation with young people, policymakers, educators, and entrepreneurs, is Mastercard Foundation’s strategy that aims to extend dignified work to 30 million young people in Africa, with 3 million in Ghana, 70 per cent of which will be young women, over the next 10 years. 

“The effects of COVID-19 are multifaceted and unfolding rapidly. We expect that the prospects of young people in Ghana, and the rest of Africa, will be deeply impacted,” says Mastercard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy. 

“We will continue working with young people to better understand their needs, amplify their voices, and co-create solutions that will enable them to reach their full potential. We are also keenly considering what lessons we can glean during this time to better equip young people for a future in which work will be increasingly digital.” 

The NBSSI Mastercard Foundation Recovery and Resilience Program for MSMEs will provide financial assistance, in the form of grants and soft loans, via participating institutions – banks, microfinance, mobile lenders, NGOs and Business Development Services – to eligible, qualified micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises, both formal and informal. The amount and type of financial support provided will vary depending on the size of enterprise, their need and repayment capacity.

Once participating institutions have been onboarded, NBSSI will put out a call to MSMEs and start-ups to apply for funding via a centralized web-based platform. Information will also be made available via NBSSI’s 178 Business Advisory Centers and 37 Business Resource Centers across the country.

The Executive Director of NBSSI, Kosi A. Yankey-Ayeh, stated that “MSMEs are always at the heart of the work of NBSSI. It was based on this that the MSME Emergency Program was conceived and set up, and it is the first of a series of interventions outlined to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on MSMEs. 

This is extremely vital for economic sustainability to support the MSMEs in these challenging times.” She further stated that “the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, prioritizes supporting the contribution of MSMEs and the need to ensure their survival and growth to reboot the economy in Ghana. This initiative will be enhanced to provide the platform for various partners to support all the interventions that will alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on MSMEs, the backbone of our economy.”

“MSMEs employ over 80 per cent of Ghana’s workforce and we need to move quickly to support the engines of the Ghanaian economy,” explains Nathalie Akon Gabala, Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa, and Country Head in Ghana. 

“If MSMEs are going to weather the storm, and even thrive during these uncertain times, then proactive measures such as working capital, grants, and advisory services are essential to ensure they survive COVID-19’s ripple effect on business, productivity, revenues, and employment.”