The Managing Director of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), Abena Amoah, has called on more female-owned businesses to get listed on the Ghana Alternative Market (GAX) so as to raise capital for expansion.
Although established in 2013, GAX has only six companies listed since its inception as a plethora of factors have hindered businesses in the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector from taking advantage of the market.
However, speaking on the side-lines of the ninth edition of GSE’s ‘Ring the Bell for Gender Equity’ – an event organised to mark the International Women’s Day (IWD) in Accra, Ms. Amoah explained that the motive behind the establishment of the GAX in 2013 was to support businesses within the SME sector to grow, and that with many women dominating in the SME space, GAX is an opportunity they should take advantage of in their quest to raise funds and expand their operations.
“We want more women businesses to come to our market and raise capital. We set up the GAX to help the SME sector and so far, we have some successes; we want to see more businesses run by females on the GAX raising some capital to expand and grow their businesses,” she said.
Ms. Amoah added that the call for more female-led businesses on the GAX is not necessarily “to tick the box”, but the positive impact that the country stands to gain from their active participation.
Listings on GAX
The GSE, which is the main stock market, comprises of two categories of listings – official listing and the Ghana Alternative Market.
GAX is a parallel market operated by the GSE and it is meant for small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) with potential for growth. It accommodates companies at various stages of their development, including start-ups and existing enterprises – both small and medium – to raise capital for business growth and expansion.
Even though GAX listing requirements are less-demanding than the main stock exchange, it has only six companies listed since its inception due to some factors, such as lack of intensive publicity on the significance of the GAX to the target market. Another factor is the deep sense of ownership among Ghanaian entrepreneurs – believing that listing on the GAX market will have their ownership rights reduced, as well as the unwillingness on the part of entrepreneurs to disclose their business records or accounts.
The World Bank indicates that 44 percent of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the country are owned by women, and this is also evident in the 2021 report by Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs (MIWE), which stipulates that over 30 percent of businesses are female-owned.
A critical look at the MIWE 2021 report states that Ghana has more women entrepreneurs, and is ranked third out of the 65 economies that were analysed in the report. It further states that from 2019–2021, the change in women business score for Ghana was 0.1. Within the three years under review, the country scores were as follows: 36.7 in 2019; for the year 2020 to 2021 it was 37.1 and 37.2 respectively.
According to the MIWE 2021 report, “women in less wealthy economies, such as Uganda, Ghana, Malawi, the Philippines, Vietnam and Madagascar, are making advanced penetration in the business world, achieving rankings and progress that go beyond expectations despite socio-cultural barriers and infrastructural constraints, such as lack of government SME support, poor access to entrepreneurial finances, and severe lack of opportunities for education”.
The MIWE, since its inception in 2017, has quantified the differences among economies’ economic, financial, political and cultural environments with respect to women entrepreneurs.