The role of Association of Small-Scale Industries (ASSI) in small-scale industry development: a case study of Offinso District

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The failure of modernization concepts, which focused on public investment in large-scale industries, has led to a switch in focus to small-scale industry promotion in Ghana. The role of small-scale industries (SSIs) in employment creation, income generation; provision of basic needs and its contribution to the overall development effort is recognized in all developing countries, Ghana not being an exception. In tune with this recognition, the National Development Policy Framework (Ghana Vision 2020), which was introduced in May 1994, has identified the private sector as an engine of economic growth and development with special emphasis on the small enterprise sub-sector. One of the long-term goals of Ghana Vision 2020 is for the sub- sector “to contribute to the country’s economic and social development with respect to production, income distribution and employment and closer integration of women and people in the rural areas into the national economy” (Ghana Vision 2020 pagc36). However, small-scale industries in the country are confronted with many problems, which have undermined their contribution to the growth and development effort in Ghana. Given the situation where, government has withdrawn from mainstream promotional activities to the provision of enabling environment, support institutions adopt demand driven approach to providing services and donor organizations prefer to deal directly with target groups, it behooves small-scale industrialists to pool their strengths together in the form of associations to enhance their chance of leveraging support from institutions and to receive donor assistance. In recognition of the role that business associations play in promoting the participation of its members in decisions that affect them and enabling them to cope more effectively with their business problems, the Association of Small-Scale Industries (AS SI) was formed in 1986 in Ghana. The research was carried out to assess the role of ASSI in SSI development, in terms of the extent to which ASSI has enabled its members to address the problems that confront them with the Offinso District as a study area. The results of the study were that: (i) small-scale industrialists in the district face a wide range of problems and challenges which undermine the growth of their businesses. These include limited access to capital and technology, lack of adequate marketing opportunities, limited business management skills among others, (ii) a number of promotional institutions operate in the district and offer various forms of support services including training programmes, credit delivery and savings mobilization, advisory services and so on, and (iii) generally, ASSI has not made any significant contribution to the development of SSIs in the study area by way of enabling them to address their business problems. ASSI’s efforts have been thwarted by problems such as weak leadership, financial and logistics capacity as well as ineffective organizational structure. In spite of this, both the industrialists and support institutions recognize the potential in ASSI as a private sector institution that can pool the strengths of small-scale industrialists together to address their concerns in the wake of competition and adoption of demand driven approach by promotional institutions. Broadly, two recommendations have been made involving intervention measures to strengthen the institutional capacity of ASSI and to improve on its approach to enabling its members to address their problems. If well implemented, these interventions are expected to enhance the capacity of ASSI to support its members and though this, enable small-scale industries play their expected role in the district’s development effort as envisioned in Ghana Vision 2020.
A Thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Science in Development Planning and Management, 2000