- as GEA launches WeRise Network to celebrate women entrepreneurs
The third Biennial Ghana Women Entrepreneurship Summit (GWES2022) has been opened with the launch of the innovative Women Entrepreneurs Rise (WERise) Network to support and celebrate achievements of the Women Entrepreneurs in Ghana.
WERise will further unite the efforts of women in the Ghanaian MSME sector to tackle shared challenges and provide a suitable environment for constructive peer interactions and knowledge-sharing.
In a speech read on his behalf at GWES2022 by the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, President Nana Akufo-Addo said promoting the economic welfare of women enhances the integrity and dignity of all humanity.
“In most parts of the world, the understanding has emerged that genuine and determined efforts to make women equal participants in economic and political life is ongoing…and the government of Ghana, of which I am its Chief Servant, is committed to the full realisation of this goal through the implementation of deliberate policies that empower women – particularly women entrepreneurs,” the president stated.
Arguing that the empowerment of women-owned businesses has ceased to be an academic debate, the president said women entrepreneurs, over the years, have been “the cornerstone of our great nation’s development, and are strategic partners in our quest to deliver socio-economic development to the good people of Ghana”.
Touching on the summit’s theme, ‘Breaking Barriers, Accelerating Women-Owned Businesses’, the president said it reflects the trending topics of gender equality and getting more women into leadership roles, as well as the strategic roles women entrepreneurs play to ensure the country’s economic recovery from debilitating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Citing data from the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the president said women businesses account for 44.6 percent of all registered businesses – making Ghana number-one for women-led businesses in Africa.
In 2020, the Ghana Enterprises Agency supervised the disbursement of GH¢302,001 to MSMEs under the government-initiated Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS), as part of the broader measures to combat effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Also, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, the agency disbursed a total of GH¢78million in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programme for MSMEs – 65 percent was disbursed to women-owned or women-led MSMEs.
Building on successes of the past
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GEA, Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, said the WERise programme is expected to build on all successes of the past and provide a vehicle to sustainably support women entrepreneurs beyond the discussions to actions – for the women by the women.
“As a result, there is increased feminisation of poverty, pervasive gender disparities in wealth and income from work – which includes both paid employment and self-employment, and women entrepreneurship. Major areas of gender inequalities in the economy include women’s predominance in the informal economy. Some 70 percent of women workers are employed or self-employed in informal jobs; which are insecure, unprotected and poorly paid. It is time to act. It is time we RISE,” she said.
She said the theme of the summit, ‘Breaking the Barrier, Accelerating the Growth of Women-Owned Businesses’, resonates well because women all over the world, including Ghana, face numerous challenges; but coming together will allow them to discuss innovative ways, and accelerate their growth by forging relationships and networks to break these barriers.
“This is what the GWES summit has achieved over the years,” she said, adding: “It’s time to take responsibility for Our Lives. It is time for the next level. It Is time to rise up to our true potential! It’s time we RISE!”
Government support for the MSME sector and Women
According to the GEA CEO, government’s support for the MSME sector, particularly women-owned businesses and their economic empowerment has been unprecedented.
“This gives us hope that the Ghana Enterprises Agency’s vision of providing support – in particular to women in business – will be realised and together we can RISE,” she stated.
WeRise Network timely
Minister for Trade and Industry, Alan Kyeramaten, described the WERise network’s launch as timely, especially after the president made the pursuit of massive Entrepreneurship Development through the YouStart Programme a top priority for job creation, especially among the Youth.
According to him, business networks have become even more important in contemporary times, where peer learning, information sharing and mentorship can help women build resilience in their businesses.
“Women entrepreneurs working together will improve not just the quality and scale of their businesses, but also be able to monitor market trends, tackle regulatory obstacles and anticipate changes…and being part of a networking platform dedicated to addressing the specific needs of women should enable members to harness the power of their collective voice to convincingly, forcefully and more systematically advocate for the removal of all barriers to entrepreneurship – through the various stages of investing, starting, owning, managing and growing their businesses in Ghana; be it a micro, small, medium or large-scale enterprise.
“It is for this the reason that establishing the Women Entrepreneurs Rise (WERise) Network is a step in the right direction at the right time,” he stated.
The World Bank estimates that in 155 out of 173 economies, at least one gender-based legal restriction exists on women’s employment and entrepreneurship.