Even as the government sets up Business Resource Centres (BRCs) across all districts and municipalities in the country, Trade Minister Alan Kyeremanten has hinted of an establishment of a common public network that will connect the services.
“These BRCs will not be operating in isolation. In fact, there will be a virtual public network to consolidate their services so businesses can access them wherever they are,” he revealed upon inspection of the Bechem BRC in the Tano South district of the Ahafo Region.
With an investment of $8 million, the government argues these BRCs act as the engine for industrial growth at the district level in support of the Government’s Industrial Transformation Agenda including the much talked about One District One Factory (1D1F) Initiative, SME development and export diversification.
The BRCs are being financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), through the Rural Enterprises Programme (REP) under the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
This initiative falls in line with the Rural Enterprise Programme’s goal of increasing incomes the incomes and improving the livelihoods of rural enterpreneurs by increasing the numbers of MSEs that generate profits, growth and employment opportunities.
The BRCs are designed as one stop enterprise support centres at the district level providing a broad range of business development services (BDS) to potential and existing entrepreneurs and enterprises. They also operate as financial and investment facilitation hubs and business information repositories for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
The BRCs are housed in specially designed and well-equipped office complexes with skilled human resources, logistics and facilities that ensure effective delivery of quality BDS at the district level. The BRCs are all being equipped with modern IT infrastructure, and networked through a virtual private network, to facilitate efficient delivery of their operations.
In November 2019, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, indicated that “the BRCs will offer support services to contribute to the One-District-One Factory initiative, including adopting a more transformative approach to strategically integrating rural informal smallholder raw material supply base into corporate entities along various commodity value chains that have been identified to be relevant to the 1D1F projects.”
Established through the Rural Enterprises Programme, the operations of the BRCs will be regulated by the NBSSI under a Franchising Agreement.
Rationale for the Virtual Private Network
The BRCs have a mandate of providing world-class business development services, trade & export, investment and tourism promotion, product certification and standardization, facilitation of access to credit and e-commerce support. The BRCs will liaise strongly with business regulatory institutions such as the Registrar Generals’ Department (RGD), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) and Ghana Revenue Authority to facilitate the formalization of businesses by micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs).
Accoordingly, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, through the Rural Enterprises Programme, intends to connect these BRCs to form one common network to facilitate access and provision of functions as mentioned above as well as sharing of resources from their distant locations. The Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology will provide a way of protecting information being transmitted over the Internet, by allowing users to establish a virtual private “tunnel” to securely enter an internal network, accessing resources, data, and communications via an insecure network such as the Internet.
Location of 37 completed and operationalized BRCs
The 37 District and Municipalities where the BRCs have been constructed are: Ahafo Ano South West, Asante Akim Central Municipal, Atwima Nwabiagya Municipal, Obuasi Municipal, Sekyere East District, Sekyere South, Ejisu Municipal in the Ashanti Region; Asunafo North Municipal, Atebubu-Amantin Municipal, Dormaa Central Municipal, Tano South Municipal, Techiman Municipal in the Brong Ahafo Region.
Others are Agona West Municipal, Assin Fosu Municipal, Awutu Senya District, and Komenda Edina Eguafo Abirem Municipal of the Central Region; Asuogyaman District, East Akim Municipal and Kwaebibirem Municipal of the Eastern Region; and Ada East District, and Weija Gbawe Municipal in the Greater Accra Region.