Businesses globally have had to succumb to the dictates of the pandemic by revisiting their books, re-strategizing and implementing business continuity models of which online transactions are a necessity, especially in these financially grueling times. The challenges inherent in most small medium enterprises are primarily technological as most resort to the conventional way of transacting business with frequent bank visits which has all but halted.
In assessment of the business landscape, the CEO of the Association of Ghana Industries, Mr. Seth Twum Akwaboah, in his statement said,
“for us to want business to continue as usual, we are aware that as a result of the COVID situation business has really slowed down and though it’s in banking transactions as well, it’s affecting business in general.
“The problem we have is that, the large section of our members are SME’s and when you have a lot of SME’s and are also dealing with them, electronic business is affected a little bit.So, in this situation much as we want business to continue the normal way for us, we know that most of our SME’s do not have that electronic means of working efficiently and that is going to be a bit of a challenge”.
Despite the diagnosed pitfalls in the inability of SME’s to proactively jump on the online transaction wagon, he commended the medium to large scale enterprise for their proactive measures by saying,
“apart from that, a lot of our generally big companies and our businesses are also electronic based and therefore, we think that it’s very possible for us to do business around that. We are transacting business on a regular basis using electronic means and therefore that should do”.
In furtherance, Mr. Akwaboah highlighted areas where businesses are thriving in spite of COVID and which isn’t likely to change as businesses are seamlessly adapting and thriving under current conditions.
He emphasized that,
“there are different aspects of our business, one aspect is cash collection that banks will collect, that one should go on and I don’t see any problem with that. The other aspect has to do with loans and other transactions, so I don’t see how the COVID situation should affect it because a lot of transaction is done on phone, it’s paperwork so you turn in your request if it’s your cash statements… all the documents can be sent and reviewed by the bankers and decisions are made by the credit committee, so those aspects should continue without difficulties and therefore businesses shouldn’t suffer for that”.
In light of this, there are also instances where the multifaceted aspect of industries, mode of operations which remains entrenched in most companies and business falter under the pandemic pressure, especially as online transactions have become a normal trend.
In reacting to this, he opines there are,
“aspects where they are monitoring your facilities and they want to engage you consistently and those aspects will be affected and are areas we need to look at… Business is generally slowing down because of the COVID situation so the cash flow generation is weak, bank deposits will go down and in that case, banks may not have deposits to lend to support our businesses…but actual transactions shouldn’t be too much for medium to large scale companies, but the small SMEs, I’m sure they’ll catch up in time as well”.
Although, the pandemic presents its own challenges with data and technology usage, it has become a necessary evil for SMEs to scale up, invest and readjust inflows. To this, he said,
“our members do not have a choice, it is the way of doing business now; it’s indeed come to stay. Already technology was advancing but it wasn’t as critical as it is now…we will educate our members, train them in the area of technology, ask them to invest in technology and ensure they have systems that will enable them do business electronically”.