2nd Dep-Governor renews support for women-inclined businesses

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Mrs. Elsie Addo Awadzi, 2nd Deputy-Governor, Bank of Ghana

The Bank of Ghana (BoG) has reaffirmed its commitment toward small businesses, particularly those owned and led by women – noting the critical role they play in economic development.

Second Deputy-Governor Elsie Addo Awadzi has said the bank is acutely aware of this segment’s contribution to the economy and the importance of technology in facilitating its growth, leading the BoG to factor gender equality into its design and implementation of the financial and payments ecosystem framework.

Mrs. Awadzi was speaking at the Standard Chartered Digital Banking, Innovation and Fintech Festival 2022, where she courted the support of key stakeholders to enhance sensitisation on the opportunities available to women-led business through technology.

“The BoG has implemented clear policies to regulate and support the growth of technology-enabled financial and payment ecosystems in furtherance of the financial inclusion and digitalisation agenda of government.

The Bank has done this while mindful of the existing gender gap issues… We recognise that greater awareness is needed to effectively facilitate utilisation of the opportunities presented, and we count on greater collaboration from key stakeholders to create the necessary awareness,” she said.

Her remarks come in the wake of a mixed bag of progress in the push toward gender parity in the application of digital financial solutions.

For the third consecutive year, Ghana (37.2 percent) is ranked behind only Botswana (38.5 percent) and Uganda (38.4 percent) in the 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE) as nations with the highest proportion of women entrepreneurs globally.

However, the expansion of women-owned businesses has been stifled – as in many cases they lack properly coordinated support, access to affordable long-term credit, and are confronted with insufficient access to new technologies.

While stating that the BoG will continue to throw its weight behind bold initiatives such as the Standard Chartered Bank’s Women in Technology (WIT) Business Incubator Programme, the Second Deputy-Governor threw down the gauntlet before innovators – asking them to be intentional in providing solutions to enhance women-inclined businesses.

“I challenge innovators to begin thinking-up solutions targetted at supporting women-led businesses. Our efforts at improving societal welfare by creating a more inclusive society will not be achieved if we fail to address the challenges of women with the potent tool of technology,” she stated.

In a similar vein, the British High Commissioner to Ghana, Harriet Thompson, pledged her government’s continued support to accelerating Ghana’s digital agenda.

“We are committed to further enhancing the already deep relationship between our two countries, and an important part of it is to do our bit to help make Ghana a leader in digitalisation in the region,” she said.

Amid the push for more women’s participation in the digital financial space, she added, there is need for a long-term strategy that prioritises education in Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) for girls.

“That is where it all starts; we need to lay the right foundation from that early age to make it possible for women to tap into the enormous opportunities which the adoption of technology offers,” High Commissioner Thompson stated.

She added that gender parity in the world of work transcends fundamental human rights, as it the bedrock of a prosperous modern economy that provides sustainable growth – while calling for enhanced sensitisation “to ensure that even women in the most remote parts of the country are able to access technology and have a chance to implement it to enrich their businesses and contribute to economic development”.

The Chairman of Standard Chartered’s Board of Directors, Dr. Emmanuel Kumah, in his remarks said the bank will remain at the forefront of supporting big and small businesses, especially the women-inclined ones, in the face of rapidly changing technological advancements.

“Female entrepreneurs face many obstacles and structural inequities that prevent them from scaling their businesses… Standard Chartered will continue to chart the journey toward digitalisation and self-disruption in Africa, while making it a priority to harness technology and at the same time champion the next generation of entrepreneurs in Ghana and across the continent,” he added.

As of the middle of 2022, 58 percent of entrepreneurs in Africa are women – and they contribute between US$250billion and US$300billion to the continent’s economy (13 percent) for its Gross Domestic Product, according to the World Economic Forum.

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