According to a study in 2019 conducted by the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship (MIWE), Ghana ranks as the country with the highest percentage of businesses owned by women – a whopping 46.4%! Bet you didn’t know that. Bet you also didn’t know that back in May 2019, the World Economic Forum declared that Ghana would be the world’s fastest-growing economy of 2019. And, yes, oil is one of the principal factors allowing for an upward slope, but Ghana has many other commodities to offer: gold, cocoa, palm oil, coconut. Not to mention all the amazing new products being produced by women!
Yes, women, like Ama Boamah, who runs an organic fruit juice business. During a recent video with ARTE, a European culture network, Boamah was interviewed while cutting pineapples alongside her co-workers with her baby strapped to her back. A true mother and businesswoman at work! And Boamah isn’t the only Ghanaian woman making waves.
The other businesswomen interviewed by ARTE continually affirm their pride in being African and their commitment to using their education and knowledge to impact their home countries. A large part of this generation’s African businesswomen have experienced studying or working abroad. Boamah, for example, studied in both Finland and South Africa.
Yet, much like her peers, she chose to return back to Africa. Why?
Well, believe it or not, there is actually more entrepreneurial opportunity back home. These women see potential in Ghana’s market and acknowledge that there is more room for error. In this respect, they can take more risks and be bolder in their business decisions, thanks to the structure and development of the economy.
And the proof of their success lies in the data, most accurately documented in the Mastercard Index of Women’s Entrepreneurship. Although the Index of 2019 only analyzed data from 57 different economies, Ghana’s ranking is still noteworthy. The study demonstrates that female entrepreneurial activity within Ghana is leading to greater gender parity with men.
Oh, and Ghana isn’t the only African country making headlines with their economy. MIWE also brought attention to Uganda and Botswana, both countries with high rates of female business ownership and entrepreneurship. The Index stressed the importance of necessity-driven entrepreneurship, stating that businesses are created due to a desire to improve income and financial independence. This shows us that women want to play a role in their financial stability and are eager to use their skills to enhance the market.
What this Index emphasizes is that in less wealthy and less developed countries, women have the immense determination and motivation to start a business. Perhaps this is due to a decrease in economic barriers combined with the steadily improved government. Or perhaps it stems from a thirst for greater independence. Yet whatever the reason, this data reasserts the potential for women to thrive even in societies where the social and cultural circumstances are not what the Western World would label “optimal.”
The flourishing of women-led businesses in Ghana is certainly an incredible feat.
However, it is the maintenance of this trend that is of utmost importance. Many businesses around the world have struggled enormously since the outbreak of COVID-19, and Ghanaian female entrepreneurs have also been affected.
A recent Forbes article discusses how three organizations in Ghana have teamed up with a common goal of providing relief to small businesses run by women. Adeline Akufo-Addo Kufuor, the CEO of Women’s Empowerment & Investment Group, Dentaa Amoateng, the Founder of GUBA Enterprise, and Robert Annan, the Managing Partner of Annan Capital Partners decided to come together to make sure that female business owners were receiving adequate resources to keep their companies alive. These three women acknowledge the help already being provided by the government to the citizens of Ghana. Nevertheless, they know that not all small businesses will be able to survive COVID.
Their solution: the COVID 19 Stimulus Fund. The fund will be a way for organizations to invest in female-run businesses that have a positive impact on Ghana’s economy and focus on sustainability. In addition to the money, the fund will provide key resources such as branding tools and digitization to help the business maintain its success and continue improving.
The women behind the COVID 19 Stimulus Fund recognize the importance of using their prominent position to help other women along their journey. It is this kind of joined effort among women in the business world that inspired me to focus on Ghana for this article. While the country is certainly experiencing major difficulties and tragedies as we all are around the world, their determination to continue fighting is astounding.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, female entrepreneurship in Ghana is a phenomenon to watch out for. The potential and strength of these women will surely bring them to prominent positions in society. Additionally, their solidarity has clearly been illustrated in their initiatives to provide funding and resources for one another. The COVID 19 Stimulus Fund is a solid example of the kind of welcoming, supportive, and ambitious environment Ghanaian businesswomen are creating for themselves.