Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Elsie Awadzi, has observed that Ghana’s private sector is dominated by women entrepreneurs, second only to Uganda in Africa, according to data from MasterCard’s 2019 Index of Women Entrepreneurs.
However, data suggest women-owned businesses tend to remain smaller and less profitable because of lacking access to business support services and a lack of access to finance.
According to the central bank’s deputy governor, women businesses are 8% less likely than men to access business support services and access to finance to start businesses, according to data from the world Bank’s 2017 Global index survey.
Therefore, she observed that the launch of Standard Chartered Bank’s Women in Technology Incubator programme – which was launched in November 2020 by herself as Guest of Honour – was a bold step by the bank, particularly during the pandemic characterised by its attendant job losses and business failures, to solve multiple policy challenges including women’s access to finance, job creation for youth and making businesses more resilient through technology.
Ten months down the line, Dr. Awadzi expressed her joy to again be the guest of honour at the SC Women in Technology Incubation first cohort graduation ceremony, held at the Standard Chartered Bank’s head office in Accra last week.
The incubator programme is run by Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with Ashesi University’s Ghana Climate Innovation Centre (GCIC).
The CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, Mrs. Mansa Nettey, said the incubation programme in partnership with GCIC is aimed at empowering women and driving diversion and inclusion by bridging the gender gap and digital divide in Ghana.
She observed that the past 18 months have been a trying time for humanity with advent of the pandemic, whereby vulnerable groups like women and children were adversely affected. Businesses, particularly micro, small and medium-size businesses, experienced setbacks – with women-owned businesses impacted harder and some folding-up.
Mrs. Nettey noted that 85% of businesses in the country are MSMEs with between 35-385 women-owned, which is the second-largest in Africa after Uganda. She therefore stated that female businesses should be assisted strongly during the economic recovery process.
She noted that by empowering women-owned businesses, the bank is driving Ghana’s economic development and accelerating progress toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Five start-ups who had emerged as winners were selected out of a shortlist of 14 start-ups that went through a four-month entrepreneurship skills training in the first phase of the programme, and graduated as the first cohort.
Mrs. Ruka Sanusi, Executive Director-Ghana Climate Innovation Centre, Ashesi University, said one of the biggest challenges women entrepreneurs face when starting or growing their business is access to finance, and was grateful to Standard Chartered Bank for partnering GCIC in responding to one of the key structural challenges small and growing businesses face.