Six online commerce and innovative companies based in Ghana with solutions that enable traders in the informal medium and small enterprise sector to leverage digital technology to scale are the targets of a $4.3 million Catalyst Fund.
The six companies when selected will participate in the Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator program which objective is to support the digitisation of MSEs in Ghana. In a statement BusinessDay received, the managers of the fund said the two-year program will improve the livelihoods and financial resilience of MSEs in Ghana, that have been impacted by COVID-19, by enabling access to digital commerce platforms and access to the market.
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A survey of low and middle-income individuals conducted by BFA Global found that 44 percent of self-employed people had lost their jobs or could not find work. The Ghana Statistical Service tracker recently found that microenterprises are faring worse than large and small enterprises; among businesses that are open, 92.2 percent of microenterprises report decreased sales (compared to 89% of small and medium enterprises, and 45% of large enterprises). Sales lso dropped to 60.9 percent compared to last April.
“Through the Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator, we aim to impact informal MSEs in Ghana who, particularly in light of the COVID-19 crisis, lack access to a financial safety net and find their livelihoods impacted when physical commerce suffers,” Maelis Carraro, Catalyst Fund Managing Director said. “Along with support and deep local expertise from the Mastercard Foundation and MEST, we aim to enable companies who are already tackling distinct problems in the digital commerce space to better reach informal MSEs so they can leverage digital rails to improve their financial resilience for the future.”
After they are selected, the six companies will get a flexible grant capital of up to $120,000each, expert-led venture acceleration support; portfolio meet-ups and curated cohort-based workshop sessions with local expertise and operational support by MEST; a commitment to sharing best practices, toolkits, learnings, and insights with the digital commerce sector; connections with Catalyst Fund’s growing global Circle of Investors (65+) and Circle of Corporate Innovators; and ecosystem acceleration to create a more enabling investment and business environment in which digital commerce companies can prosper.
The Catalyst Fund plans to expand beyond its flagship Inclusive Fintech program and will launch it via a virtual event and company pitch showcase on 4 November.
“Historically, MEST has focused on early-stage startup support and creation through our training program, seed fund, and incubator programs,” Greg Coussa, MEST Strategic Director said. “The Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator provides an opportunity to work with Catalyst Fund to support scale-stage ventures which are strategically seeking to better reach and serve informal MSEs, leveraging our local knowledge, networks, and expertise.”