Ghana is listed as one of the top three countries with the highest percentages of women-owned businesses (WOBs) across 58 markets globally.
Together with Uganda and Botswana, a Report put together by the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) lists these three African countries as global leaders in terms of women-owned businesses. This is based on publicly available data from international organizations including the International Labour Organization, UNESCO and the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.
Again in 2019, MIWE revealed that at 46.4% Ghana was producing more female entrepreneurs than any other country in the world. The female labour force participation in Ghana at the time recorded a resounding 96.1%.
The stats for women’s representation in the Export sector is no different.
Across the four categories of Ghana’s export i.e. agribusiness, manufacturers & services, industrial art & craft, women businesses make up about 65%. Out of this number, WOBs dominate the processed and semi-processed (manufacturers) sector, producing food products and derivatives, beverages and cosmetics.
It’s labelled cliché to say that women keep the world going round but a critical look at these stats gives evidence to the fact that without the “daily grind” of these women, our economy could literally come to a halt.
Female entrepreneurs continue to have a direct impact on economic growth and the wellbeing of society. In sub-Saharan Africa in particular, women continue to demonstrate an unwavering commitment to supporting their communities through entrepreneurship – despite the many barriers they encounter with access to education, financial and entrepreneurial opportunities.
You would think that with such a huge percentage of women businesses in the informal sector, women would be the owners of a huge percentage of economic wealth. There’s a stark contrast instead and these female entrepreneurs are mainly driven by sheer grit and determination to do well for themselves, their families and sometimes their communities by extension.
It is for this reason among many others, that the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) mandated to promote made in Ghana goods and services to increase Ghana’s export earnings, taps into opportunities granted by Development Partners to provide support for WOBs in Ghana.
The She Trades Commonwealth programme, organised by the International Trade Centre is one of a number of support initiatives targeted at Women in Export. Launched in June 2018, its aim is to drive an increase in international trade, productivity and export potential for women entrepreneurs and women-owned companies through intensive training and mentoring activities.
She Trades specifically works with women entrepreneurs in the agricultural, apparel and services sectors in three other Commonwealth countries: Bangladesh, Kenya and Nigeria. In Ghana, there are 300+ businesses signed up on this programme and over the two year period.
GEPA also partners Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) Canada to provide support to women in selected sectors of agric, shea, agrobusiness, home décor craft & services.
TFO Canada creates sustainable trade partnerships for exporters from developing countries with Canadian and foreign buyers, providing access to international markets through information, advice and contact services.
Other direct interventions GEPA has instituted to practically support women entrepreneurs in Ghana include the provision of 420 full sets of protective working apparel to the women of the Bongo Soe Shea Community Association in the Northern part of Ghana.
Before this intervention, these women had to painfully contend with snake bites on a daily basis while picking shea nuts in the wild. Clothed appropriately, the women of Bongo now feel empowered to increase the volume of the nuts they pick for processing and for export. For these women, GEPA’s intervention was both a life saver and a necessary working aid.
Somewhere in the Fanteakwa South District of the Eastern Region, Madam Afua Nyamekye makes beautiful bauxite beads for sale to earn a decent living. Thanks to Ghana Export Promotion Authority, Nyamekye’s colleagues in the Abompe Bauxite Beads Producers Association (comprising a membership of about 85% women) now have a Bauxite Beads Production facility fully fitted with machines proudly made in Ghana.
Before this facility was completed in July 2020, the women of Abompe went through gruelling manual processes, often enduring bloodshot blistered fingers to make these bauxite beads.
The National Export Development Strategy, launched in the last quarter of 2020 with the aim of setting Ghana on the path of industrialisation for national wealth, recognises the significant role women play in the economy. Within this national document is a dedicated sub-strategy on Gender, Youth and People with Disability, advocating for the needed technical and financial support. The objective is to leverage on the productivity of this significant group as a means of increasing our export earnings as a country.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us use the opportunity to recognise the “grit” that drives our women to put in their daily bit, to keep Ghana’s engine of growth revolving. Find a sister, a mother, a daughter, an aunt, a girlfriend, a wife, a former school mate, an in-law or work colleague who owns a business no matter how big or small, and give her a resounding Ayekoo !!!