Sanitation SMEs need holistic policies to thrive – Research

A research conducted by Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor, Ghana (WSUP), an NGO called for holistic policies to facilitate the operations of Small and medium Scale Entrepreneurs in the sanitation sector.

The research dubbed “Creating a stronger non-market environment for small and medium scale sanitation entrepreneurs (SMEs) in Ghana: The opportunities and Challenges” sought to understand the non-market barriers and opportunities facing sanitation SMEs businesses and their impact on the businesses themselves as well as on their ability to reach    Low Income Urban Communities with appropriate products and service.

It identified lack of start-up capital, high interest rates, lack of business advice, lack of access to public infrastructure and banking services as some of the challenges facing sanitation SMEs.

Other barriers identified include cost of utility, currency depreciation, delay in payment, lack of access to parts and equipment, late payment of public sector procurement, among others.

The research was conducted in Kumasi and Accra in the Ashanti and the Greater Accra regions respectively.

This was made known at a meeting organised by the Resource Centre Network (RCN) and National Level Learning Alliance Platform (NLLAP) in collaboration with WSUP to share the findings of the research in Accra.

 Dr Pippa Scott of the Integrated Sanitation Solution for Urban Development and the lead Researcher said the research also aimed at leveraging and encouraging a more substantive role for SMEs in the sector.

She said though associations serve as a formal link between entrepreneurs and the authorities, the research found there were no collective voice/association where notable sanitation issues and ideas could be shared to improve the operations of the actors.

She said elsewhere in other countries, there were innovative start-up finance such as equity finance, guarantee loans subsidised credit facilities, interest from investments of community funds and other revolving funds to boost working capital of sanitation SMEs.

She also mentioned microfinance and micro credits, timely payment and tax-cut for sanitation SMEs as well as lobbying for fundraising for equipment for national sanitation projects as another innovative ways to support their services.

Ms Faustina Asante, Social Business Lead, WSUP Ghana, called for collaboration between related Ministries and partners to leverage support for the sector.

She said all that sanitation SMEs need is affordable interest rates to operate and called on civil society organisations to articulate issues, through advocate support and engage policy makers, especially the new Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to find solutions to the plights of the sector.

Mr Ben Ampomah, Executive Secretary of Water Resources Commission, said sanitation SMEs are quite critical to the development of the economy, especially in the area of water and sanitation and stressed the need to find ways to address the challenges to improve the situation of the urban poor.

Source: GNA

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