According to him, such businesses cannot be the backbone of a Ghana which is economically independent.
Speaking to Starrfmonline.com on the sidelines of the maiden edition of the Young Business Executive Breakfast meeting on Wednesday, Dr. Yamson said, local businesses must be supported to grow into big companies which would lead the country’s economic transformation.
For him, the creation of such big companies will require strategic partnerships among small businesses, tying in with the theme of the meeting; “Power and Potential of Partnerships”.
“We have always complained that our political independence has not led us into economic independence. That’s true. If you look around Ghana from the extractive industry, manufacturing, even services, virtually most of the leading companies are all foreigners. I don’t see that foreign businesses are the future of this country”, he opined.
Dr. Yamson who worked for 38 years with a foreign company, Unilever Ghana Limited, said that does not kill his desire to see Ghanaian businesses grow.
“Every time this country gets into difficulty, they (foreign companies) cut their investments, some of them even pack and go and leave us where we are. If we want to build a strong economy led by Ghanaians, then we need to help Ghanaians to grow big businesses. And I’m not saying go and nationalize every company. We have many businesses in critical areas of the public sector and virtually all of them are not adding value to this country. This is at the core of most of the problems we have in this country today”, he indicated.
One of the practical ways he thinks Ghanaian businesses can expand is through the divestiture of some state enterprises by allowing strategic partnerships with local businesses.
“Every time we talk about divestiture, we think of divesting these companies to foreign companies. We don’t even make it a condition that those foreign companies to whom we are selling these state enterprises must have local content, that they must have local partners. Because if we don’t build the capacity of our people today in managing, creating companies, building and growing companies, we will always remain small medium enterprises.
“Sometimes I worry that we are proud to claim that 80 percent of our economy is SMEs; it’s nothing to be proud of. What is the vision of our governments to say that in the next 10, 20, 30 years, 60 percent of the economy will be run by big Ghanaian businesses. You cannot have economic independence led by foreign companies. I think divesting state enterprises is one route of getting Ghanaians into big companies”, he explained.
Speaking to young entrepreneurs at the meeting Dr. Yamson encouraged them to strike strategic partnerships built on shared values, if they are to make their businesses big.
According to him, bringing together different brands, skills and strengths to create a formidable entity is a more effective way of gaining national and global recognition. Mistrust and issues to do with identity are some of the reasons he outlined as hampering partnerships among businesses in Ghana; hurdles he wants young entrepreneurs to cleverly maneuver.
The meeting which is a partnership between Ismael Yamson and Associates and Starr FM, is a quarterly event.