Ghana: A land of success for women entrepreneurs

Over the past 20 years, successive governments in Ghana have decided to focus on education and women’s education in particular. The objective: to increase their participation in the economic life. Today, women have taken advantage of this vision to become autonomous in all spheres of the country’s economic life. Report.

In Ghana, women make up about 51% of the population and play a vital role in the socio-economic life. According to the Mastercard index of female entrepreneurship (MIWE), Ghana leads with 46.4% of women-owned businesses. For the country’s new administration, the contribution of women in the economy is therefore far from being negleted.

«Ghanaian women play a vital role in the entrepreneurial environment»

«Whether in agribusiness, creative art, textile, manufacturing and clothing sectors to the financial and business sectors, Ghanaian women play a vital role in the entrepreneurial environment as shown by the latest figures from the National Council of Small and Medium Industries (PMI). According to these figures, 44% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women,» said Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo in front of an audience of entrepreneurs in early June.

Sitting in her office in an Accra neighborhood, Leticia Osafo-Addo is the prime example of Ghanaian women’s success in entrepreneurship. She succeeded in positioning Samba Foods, her agri-food processing company, in a market that has become very competitive. An anesthetist by training, she did not hesitate to set up her transformation plant in 1993. Today, a seasoned and respected entrepreneur, she manages her company with style. For Leticia Osafo-Addo, the commitment of high level authorities weighed in the balance. However, she encourages the authorities to do more for women entrepreneurs. «I think that if there is a channel of funding or government efforts that further target women entrepreneurs in the development of their businesses, it will go in the right direction,» she says.

Nana Akufu president of Ghana

A well-structured educational system for the emergence of women entrepreneurs

The vision of the Ghanaian state has led to the emergence of true women entrepreneurs in Ghana through a well-structured education system. The level of education of women has significantly increased in Ghana in recent decades, from 16 percent in the 1970s to nearly 80 percent today. This rate in neighboring countries reaches only 33% in Burkina Faso and 62% in Côte d’Ivoire, according to United Nations figures. «Our educational reforms also take into account the increase in technical and vocational training institutions, which will benefit our young girls by equipping them with the skills needed to build a modern economy,» explained the Ghanaian President. The education sector accounts for about 25% of the country’s public expenditure.

Samira Bawumia, a staunch promoter of female entrepreneurship in Ghana, remains convinced that education will continue to train new generations of women entrepreneurs. «We all know that education is essential for women’s economic empowerment and can help reduce intergenerational poverty. Free secondary school education will enable more girls to access education, and thus improve their potential to earn more resources and open the door to other entrepreneurial successes.»

Among those success stories, Winnifred Selby remains a role model for most young Ghanaian women. The co-founder of Ghana Bamboo Bikes, a company that makes bicycle frames out of bamboo, says the idea came after a design class at high school. «We were asked to imagine transportation mode for elderly people or children.»

A special fund to meet funding needs

In Ghana, it is estimated that about 80% of women are involved in various economic activities, and most of them in small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), which represent a major source of income for the country. Despite the high score of 84.6% in terms of financial inclusion for women, according to the MIWE index, authorities do not want to stop there. Indeed, a special fund of 10 million cedis (1,825 million euros) has been announced to support women entrepreneurs in their businesses. «We need to empower them in the entrepreneurial space to stimulate economic development,» said Kosi Yankey, the Executive Director of the National Council of Small Industries (NBSSI) and Director of Nuba Foods and Commodities Ltd, an entity in agri-business. The government is drafting a project for the establishment of a reglementation that creates fitting entrepreneurial environment for women, by 2020.

«In Ghana, banks do not easily support start-ups, » say Winnifred Selby whose company boats a turnover of around 275 000 euros. « We need fundings to support the demand,» he stressed. For Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, minister of business development, that fun is earmarked for Ghanaian women entrepreneurs. « We want to target especially women entrepreneurs as around 52 per cent of women are women entrepreneurs and we can attain an inclusive growth without women ».

Winnifred Selby cofondatrice Ghana Bamboo Bikes