GHS 10 million to support female entrepreneurs is not ‘free money’ — Awal

Ibrahim Mohammed Awal (Minster for Business Development)

Government has stated that the GHS 10 million fund expected to support women in entrepreneurship is a loan that comes with a lower interest rate of 10% or less, according to Business Development Minister, Mohammed Awal.

He made this statement during the Women Entrepreneurship Conference held in Accra on the theme: “Unleashing Women Entrepreneurs for Inclusive Growth.”

According to the minister, access to these funds can be made by presenting a Business plan to the Ministry of Business Development and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Plan (NEIP). The minister also noted that, his ministry is ready to guide women who do not have knowledge in drawing a business plan.

He said: “What we are doing is to assess the credit worthiness of all these people. It is not free money but the interest rate is not beyond 10%. As at now the market range is about 25- 30%. We want to support people whether they are trading or into ICT, agribusiness etc. The essence is to support these women to start their own business.

Women are marginalised. If you go to the bank now, they ask for collateral and most women don’t have it. So, we need to rather set them off with this money so that those who have businesses can expand, and those who don’t have can start their own businesses. We want to make sure that we create jobs for the people. So, if you get this money, you will be able to employ one or two more people to expand thereby creating jobs for other women.”

The minister was quick to add that this GHS 10million is different from the GHS 20million government will be procuring by March to support youth in start-up businesses adding that the Ministry of Finance is working on the GHS 10million, so within the next 2 months the money will be available for access.

He encouraged women entrepreneurs not to give up when they face challenges. He also challenged experienced business women to mentor the upcoming ones. He said: “I also want to challenge experienced businesswoman to mentor the younger women. Help them and make them win so that tomorrow they look bigger than you. “

Also present at the event was Second Lady, Samira Bawumia who noted that women are very active participants in the growth of the economy across sub-Saharan Africa.

“There is considerable evidence that most businesses in Africa are owned and run by women. But these businesses are more likely to be small-scale enterprises in the informal sector. Women engage in low value-added activities that only reap marginal benefits primarily because they are entrepreneurs out of necessity and not of opportunity.”

According to her, there are many studies that have shown that investing in women has a multiplier effect hence there is the need to focus on the contributions women make towards the acceleration of the economic development and inclusive growth.

She noted that even though women invest in their communities, families and the nation as a whole, they still face great challenges and have to grapple with the many constraints in raising funds and mobilizing revenue that sets them back in the pursuit of entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.

Currently, about 80% of women in Ghana are engaged in various economic activities and predominantly operate in the small to medium-scale sectors in the economy. Statistics from the Ghana Statistical Service show that women make up 15.5% of the workforce. Per the Ghana living standards 2014, the formal sector employs only 6.2% of women with 3.3% of them in public sector and 2.9 in the private sector.

According to the World Bank, only 47% of women globally have access to formal financial institutions and saving mechanisms making access to credit a critical challenge for women in business.

The Ministry of Business Development was created to promote the private sector and prioritise the needs of existing businesses and help facilitate the creation of new ones.