GH¢4m boost for women in business … as govt moves to support physically challenged women entrepreneurs

Mrs Rebecca Akufo Addo(middle)Mr Mohammed Awal and Mrs  Cyntyia Morrison arriving at the event

Mrs Rebecca Akufo Addo(middle)Mr Mohammed Awal and Mrs Cyntyia Morrison arriving at the event

First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo has urged women entrepreneurs and other business associations to undertake vigorous advocacy to promote women entrepreneurship in the country.

According to her, an improvement in the entrepreneurial capacity of women would enable them take advantage of initiatives by the government to better their lives and living conditions.

She said despite report by the Ghana Statistical Service that about 80 per cent of the country’s women population was operating in the informal micro to medium scale agriculture, manufacturing and services sectors of the economy, women entrepreneurs and women-run businesses were saddled with numerous challenges.

Mrs Akufo-Addo was speaking in Accra yesterday at a fundraising gala night in aid of physically challenged women in business.

Organised by the Ministry of Business Development, the event was meant to raise funds to support the physically challenged women entrepreneurs.

“Some challenges faced by our hardworking women entrepreneurs make it extremely difficult for us to enterprise. According to the World Bank, only 47 per cent of women have access to formal financial institutions and savings mechanisms which makes it a critical challenge for our women.

“The land tenure system and its administration do not favour women since land is held in trust by family heads who happen to be men. Women also lack access to business development services to improve on their skills often compounded by lack of time due to over burdensome domestic activities,” she added.

Despite the achievements by the country’s hardworking women, some women were still glued to the domestic chores of making babies, providing food and undertaking all the cleaning and menial activities around the home.

Women with disabilities, she said were exposed to the most discrimination and violations of their basic human rights, stating that “many women with disabilities have limited access to education, health care, decision-making, and employment opportunities, thus aggravating their conditions of poverty.”

In order to address the challenges, the First Lady said the collaboration between the Ministry of Business Development and the Ministry of Gender and Social Protection was crucial in building the entrepreneurial capacity of women to be able to exploit opportunities under the government’s industrialisation agenda and other initiatives.

Citing a recent study by the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurship in 2018 on Ghana, which stated that women were the highest business owners in the country, she reiterated the need for women to be given the needed support as entrepreneurs to create more jobs.

“I note with satisfaction that under the Presidential Business Support Programme of the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme of the Ministry of Business Development, 58 per cent of the 1,350 beneficiaries who received financial support were businesses owned by women. Again, out of the 10 innovative business ideas that won in the Presidential Pitch, six were owned by young women entrepreneurs. These are examples of how far we can go as women given the right support,” Mrs Akufo-Addo added.

She said the government was focused on creating an entrepreneurial culture that would make Ghana the most business-friendly country on the continent saying that the successes of ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’ agenda would be reliant on the exploits of women.

The fundraising event, the First Lady said, was very important in supporting the country’s disabled women in business towards the achievement of inclusive and sustainable economic growth in Ghana.

The Minister for Business Development, Dr Ibrahim Mohammed Awal, said the Ministry was targeting to raise GH¢4million over the next two years to support physically challenged women in business.

He said about 1,000 physically challenged women entrepreneurs would be targeted nationwide to benefit under the initiative.

An advisory board, the Minister said would be set up to determine the modalities for disbursement of the funds raised, which would serve as a revolving fund and disbursed as soft loans with minimal interest, early next year.

He called on business executives, corporate institutions and philanthropists to contribute to the fund.

By Claude Nyarko Adams

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