Some business development support initiatives undertaken by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are contributing significantly to change the fortunes of many local businesses in the Ashanti Region(A/R).
The initiative, dubbed the NBSSI/JICA Business Development Support (BDS) Project, is aiming at formulating a strategic model for quality and productivity improvement through strengthening BDS for Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs).
The project is designed to develop the capacity of Business Advisory Centers (BACs) of the NBSSI in the provision and facilitation of BDS. The trained BACs are expected to use the knowledge acquired to enhance the skills of local entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.
So far, about 36 indigenous businesses that have benefitted from the JICA-assisted project, piloted by the NBSSI in the Ashanti Region, have recorded remarkable progress in their operations.
The beneficiary businesses, all micro, small and medium enterprises, were taken through a nine-week Corporative Diagnosis and KAIZEN training course with the aim of building their competencies to achieve sustainable improvement in their productivity and quality of work.
The operations of the assisted businesses cut across textiles/garments, cassava and wood processing, soap making, herbal medicine production, sachet water production among others.
Mrs. Juliana Nkrumah Gynmah, Chief Executive of Adutwumwaa Herbal Industries — a beneficiary of the project, said the intervention from NBSSI/JICA BDS Project has boosted her company’s production capacity to over 60 percent while cutting down drastically on waste.
She said there is currently proper division of labor, which helps each worker to know his daily tasks — hence contributing to efficiency and high productivity.
She explained that the nine-week engagement with the Japanese experts and BAC officials has also impacted hugely on the maintenance culture of the company.
Mrs. Gymah however appealed to extend the training to other MSEs periodically to enable local businesses to grow.
Mr. Kweku Ofori, a fashion designer at Asante Akyem Agogo — another beneficiary of the NBSSI/JICA BDS Project, also testified that prior to the project his outfit was persistently challenged with meeting the demands of customs.
He said, for instance, that it was difficult to meet the delivery dates for people who brought in their clothes for sewing. He noted that identifying the finished work for clients was as much a difficulty as delivering it at the right time.
However, he said through the assistance of NBSSI/JICA BDS Project, his outfit is now able to serve more clients in the shortest period of time compared to their work rate in the past.
“In the past, to ensure the quality of work, I had to check the work of all my apprentices at almost every stage which delayed my time; but the intervention of the project has helped us to develop a Standard Working Procedure (SOP). Every apprentice can check from displayed standard visuals without receiving direct assistance from me,” Mr. Ofori said.
According to the beneficiaries, what makes the training very useful to operational growth is the effectiveness of using the “KAIZEN” method.
KAIZEN is the Japanese philosophy and methodology of continuous improvement for quality and productivity with minimum investment.
The implementation of a KAIZEN method by businesses forms a key part of the BDS Project’s objectives. Mr. Thomas Fofie, NBSSI Business Advisor for Asante Mampong, indicated that most of the local businesses are faced with countless challenges that require the expertise of the NBSSI to assist in overcoming them.
He said although the NBSSI continues to assist in addressing the problems of local businesses, he acknowledges that the NBSSI/JICA BDS Project has contributed remarkably to bring about a lot of improvement to the way services are delivered. This is referred to as the “new BDS”.