Dr Irene Okhade, Lecturer in HRM and International Development, Global Development Institute
The €1.4 million “ManaGlobal” project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 is an innovative research project that seeks to explore the evidence of management approaches practiced in Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco and UAE. Key components of this collaborative project involve the exchange of knowledge and skills for conducting cross-cultural research, the way business is conducted and how organizations are managed locally and globally.
The project also involves capacity building through various knowledge exchange platforms such as research placements and seminars. To this end, two Research Fellows, Theophilus Arthur-Menash (Policy and Research Analyst) and Kwadwo Obeng Kyei (Business Development Officer) from the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) arrived at GDI on 27th July 2022 for academic-business collaborations.
At the end of their one-month visit, the ManaGlobal Principal Investigator, Prof Aminu Mamman, Co-Investigators Dr Chris Rees, Dr Farhad Hossain, and Dr Kate Rowlands organized a seminar and discussions aided by Dr Irene Okhade. In attendance were AGI Research Fellows, GDI colleagues and PhD researchers. The seminar provided good opportunity to exchange knowledge and learn the challenges business associations face when interfacing with policymakers and academic institutions on behalf of their members It also provided an avenue to share examples of best practice in doing business and managing organizations in Africa.
AGI is a representative case study in this project because it acts as a link between businesses, academia and policymakers. Understanding how the association is managed, how it conducts business and the fundamental role it plays in the sector is relevant to the wider ManaGlobal research project.
Formed (as Federation of Ghana Industries) in 1958, AGI is one of the largest and oldest independent business association in Ghana. It has over 1200 members made up of small, medium and large-scale manufacturing and services industries. Its mission is to provide support services to the industrial sector in Ghana. The role of the association includes policy advocacy through engagements with policymakers for the advancement of industries, strengthening national industry associations through membership development such as knowledge sharing and capacity building as well as research and stakeholder engagement.
Through collaborations between AGI, academia and policymakers, businesses in Ghana have witnessed positive outcomes such as zero VAT rate for textile manufacturers, partial reversal of benchmark value discount policy, formation of Ghana Recycling Initiative by Private Enterprise (GRIPE) in collaborations with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and upfront tax relief for manufacturers and electricity tariff negotiations for steel companies.
Research findings from AGI revealed that various policies have been designed to enhance the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana. However, several challenges hinder the advancement of these SMEs. Challenges include access to finance, inappropriate organizational structures, resistance to the sharing of information, procedures and processes, poor relationship between businesses and universities, and limited research and development.
To mitigate these challenges a range of measures should be considered:
- Financial support such as grants for the SMEs to grow their business as well as capacity building especially in the areas of business development.
- Academia could serve as an R&D hub where SMEs could collaborate and develop a sustainable growth model, enabling them to thrive.
- The right policies from the government could support SMEs. These include policies that create business linkages, or off-taker agreements or a policy that develops the value chain of that sector.
- Effective leadership and collaboration are important as well as simplification of bureaucratic processes.
- In addition, ensuring visibility of research to entrepreneurs and improving the links between firms and knowledge institutions could enhance innovative capacity of SMEs.
The findings and recommendations of the activities of the Research Fellows and the discussions during the seminar will contribute to the ManaGlobal project outcomes. In addition, it will provide recommendations to policymakers and design of training programmes on business and management of organizations in African countries.