#IWD2024: Financial inclusion and entrepreneurship can boost women’s economic empowerment


By Ramat Ebella WHAJAH

Ghana is often regarded as a success story of economic growth and development in Africa. However, this progress has not been equally shared by all segments of the population, especially women. According to the World Bank, Ghana has a gender gap of 11 percentage points in financial inclusion, meaning that women are less likely than men to have access to formal financial services, such as bank accounts, savings, credit, insurance, and payments. This limits their ability to start and grow businesses, invest in education and health, manage risks, and cope with shocks.

Financial inclusion, defined as the access and use of quality and affordable financial services, can help overcome these challenges and unlock the potential of women as economic agents. Financial inclusion can provide women with the tools and resources they need to pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations, increase their income and productivity, and improve their well-being and that of their families and communities.

Entrepreneurship, defined as the creation and operation of a new business venture, can also be a powerful catalyst for women’s economic empowerment. Entrepreneurship can offer women an alternative source of income, a means of self-expression and innovation, and a way of challenging gender norms and stereotypes. Entrepreneurship can also create positive spillover effects, such as job creation, market expansion, and social change.

However, women entrepreneurs face specific obstacles that hinder their success and growth. These include limited access to finance, markets, networks, skills, and information, as well as legal, regulatory, and cultural barriers. To address these challenges, women entrepreneurs need tailored and holistic support that can help them overcome the gaps and constraints they face.

The financial inclusion community can play a vital role in enhancing women’s economic empowerment through entrepreneurship. By providing women entrepreneurs with appropriate and affordable financial products and services, such as loans, savings, insurance, and payments, the financial inclusion community can help them start, sustain, and scale their businesses.

By offering women entrepreneur’s non-financial services, such as training, mentoring, coaching, and networking, the financial inclusion community can help them acquire the skills, knowledge, and connections they need to succeed. By advocating for a conducive and inclusive policy and regulatory environment, the financial inclusion community can help create a level playing field for women entrepreneurs.

In Ghana, there are several initiatives that are working to promote financial inclusion and entrepreneurship for women. For example, the MasterCard Foundation is a partner of the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Leadership for Africa (WELA) program, which provides scholarships, mentorship, and business development support to women entrepreneurs in Ghana and other African countries. The MasterCard Foundation also supports the Young Africa Works strategy, which aims to enable 30 million young people, especially young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.

Another example is the Women in Social Enterprise (WISE) network, which is a platform that connects, supports, and empowers women social entrepreneurs in Ghana. The WISE network provides women with access to training, funding, mentoring, and networking opportunities, as well as advocacy and policy engagement. The WISE network also organizes events and activities, such as the WISE Awards, the WISE Summit, and the WISE Talks, to celebrate and showcase the achievements and impact of women social entrepreneurs in Ghana.

These initiatives demonstrate the potential and impact of financial inclusion and entrepreneurship for women’s economic empowerment in Ghana. However, more needs to be done to close the gender gap and ensure that all women have equal access to opportunities and resources.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Ghana ranks 10th out of 54 countries in terms of women’s entrepreneurial activity, but only 34th in terms of women’s entrepreneurial intentions. This suggests that there are still barriers and challenges that prevent women from pursuing their entrepreneurial goals.

This International Women’s Day, let us celebrate the achievements and contributions of women entrepreneurs in Ghana, and commit to supporting their financial inclusion and empowerment. By doing so, we can create a more prosperous, equitable, and sustainable Ghana for all.

>>>the writer is the Acting Head, Accra Tema Zone, National Investment Bank with over a decade experience in business advisory, sales, customer service, branch operations among others. She is the Founder of Girls with Purpose Foundation, a not-for-profit community passionate about mentoring young girls and the youth to find their purpose, standout and succeed. Connect with Ramat via LinkedIn: Ramat Ebella Whajah , Email: [email protected]

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