The new Catalyst Fund Inclusive Digital Commerce Accelerator aims to support the digitisation of micro and small businesses (MSEs) in the African country.
Established by the Catalyst Fund, managed by BFA Global, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST), the $4.3-million fund aims to improve the livelihoods and financial status of informal MSEs impacted by Covid-19.
Maelis Carraro, managing director at Catalyst Fund comments on the importance of supportive micro and small businesses in Ghana and assisting them in transitioning into the digital eCommerce space.
“We’re thrilled to announce the first Catalyst Fund expansion program, which builds on lessons learned on supporting inclusive fintech companies in emerging markets over the last five years. 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. 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.”
The two-year programme will upscale six selected digital commerce and innovative companies that can enable informal MSEs to access and reap the benefits of the digital commerce sphere.
Participants will be selected by an expert Investment Advisory Committee. Selection is based on market research carried out to identify barriers and opportunities for expanding inclusive digital commerce in Ghana.
To apply for the programme visit the online application portal.
Selected participants will be provided the following:
- Flexible grant capital of up to US$120,000 per company
- Deep, bespoke, 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 and access to 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 importance of MSEs
Surveys conducted by BFA Global and by Ghana Statistical Service found that MSEs, in particular, are suffering as a result of the pandemic. A BFA Global survey of low and middle-income individuals found that 44% of self-employed people had lost their jobs or could not find work.
A recent tracker from the Ghana Statistical Service found that microenterprises are suffering more compared to large and small enterprises; among open businesses, 92.2% of microenterprises report decreased sales (compared to 89% of small and medium enterprises, and 45% of large enterprises), noting that sales have fallen 60.9% relative to last April.
Nathalie Akon Gabala, regional head for Western, Central, and Northern Africa, at the Mastercard Foundation, points out that in order to generate the local economy, MSEs must be supported and provided the necessary assistance.
“Micro and small enterprises are the bedrock of Ghana’s economy. They are also the most impacted by COVID-19, putting livelihoods and economic gains made over the years at risk. Accelerating access to markets through digitization and e-commerce platforms provides MSEs the opportunity not only to scale but to strengthen their resilience at the other side of the pandemic.”