The Venture Capital Trust Fund has told Citi Business News about ninety-six percent of the over two hundred Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) it assisted with credit facility for about four years now, are yet to repay the monies.
According to the fund, the total credit plus interest, amounts to about 28 million cedis.
This disclosure also comes at a time when most SMEs are complaining about the lack of access to credit and in cases where credit is available; the high costs make it uncompetitive for the businesses to seek financial assistance.
The Chief Executive of the Venture Capital Trust Fund, Osman Sulemana admitted in an interview with Citi Business News that the development is impacting the fund’s ability to provide financial assistance.
“There was a policy direction about four years back where the board sat and felt that there was the need to support SMEs in the form of debts. But the monies for the debt portion of what was done for the SMEs are not coming back, they are not performing and about 96 percent of them have not paid back,” he stated.
“If the SMEs were to access funding or loans from financial institutions from the banks whose interest rates are above 25 percent, then there is no moral justification not to pay back. Once it is an endowment fund, it becomes very difficult for others to be able to access the fund; you will have to pay back so that other people can access funds,” Osman Sulemana further observed.
Mr. Sulemana however indicated that a process to prosecute defaulters will be initiated following a failure to pay outstanding debts within a grace period it has offered them.
“We have transferred most of the files to bullion financial services and they have called on most of the defaulters to resettle their loans within a short time period but if they default, they will be prosecuted,” the Venture Capital Trust Fund boss assured.
SMEs assisted to access funding
Meanwhile the British High Commission has launched an initiative to assist SMEs list on the Ghana Alternative Market (GAX).
Known as the Capital SME, the platform provides SMEs with relevant information on the requirements for listing on the GAX.
Commenting on the operations of the Capital SME platform, an official at the British High Commission in Accra, Tanya Williams told Citi Business News she was optimistic the platform will assist about five SMEs to be listed on the GAX within a year,
“We are not providing any specific funding through the British government to help any company to list. But what we are hoping for is that through this website and the networking events that we hold, enough SMEs will have more information about the capital market…so we are hoping that in a year, five more companies would have worked with our stakeholders to list on the Ghana Stock Exchange,” she stated.
Further stages of the project include increased engagement with government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) and financial institutions to support capital market development; and hosting informative conferences and related networking events.
The GAX which was introduced about three years ago, allows SMEs to list on the domestic market with a minimum of 250,000 cedis post floatation.
By: Pius Amihere Eduku/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana