Historically, women have always been the spine that holds Ghana’s economy in place. Doubting this will be denying the reality of things, at least from the Ghanaian perspective. Regardless of the fact that women’s roles and participation in economic activity have been defined along socio-cultural lines, women continuously make huge strides in different endeavours that keep making significant contributions to the Ghanaian economy.
Available data show that women account for approximately 50% of the labour force and are found in almost all kinds of economic activities in agriculture, industry and services. Women are also known to be the main actors in Ghana’s micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) sector – a sector that is known to be the anchor on which Ghana’s economy hangs. SMEs represent about 92% of businesses, largely within the private sector, and contribute about 70% of Ghana’s gross domestic product (GDP). In terms of formal sector employment, they account for just over half of all full- time employment, with the percentage likely much higher in the informal sector.
Within the Ghanaian SME sector, women hold a huge sway. According to the World Bank, 44% of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana are owned by women. On the African continent, apart from Uganda, Ghana has the most women entrepreneurs according to the 2019 MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs. This shows the significance of women within Ghana’s socio-economic development and the need to give them more support.
On the basis of the immeasurable contribution of women-owned and women-led businesses, in our socio-economic development and the role they play in our everyday lives, it stands to reason that the country will benefit significantly by equipping and supporting these businesses to scale up with good business practices, technology and technical support, and of course, access to finance.
This notwithstanding, women are not given the necessary support and recognition for their efforts in developing their communities. Data about the contribution of women to GDP is clear that when the efforts of women are given the support and recognition they deserve, society will be the ultimate benefit. But at Stanbic Bank we appreciate and acknowledge what women mean to the socio-economic development of our society and when we enable them, to have unforgettable experiences in their private, social and economic lives, the nation becomes the ultimate beneficiary. It is in recognition of this fact that Stanbic Bank has over the years put in place deliberate interventions to ensure that women are fully supported to realize their full potentials.
Leveraging on our flagship business incubator hub, the SBIncubator, we have impacted over 21,000 women across the country through carefully developed programmes. Our tailor-made interventions include the ‘Women Entrepreneurship Festival’, an event that brings together women entrepreneurs and professionals from across the country, hungry for the advice, proven strategies, and connections needed to start and grow a business. The event creates a space for women to learn, grow, create opportunities and foster partnerships through conversations.
Beyond this, we have also partnered with the Institute of Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, to host the first ever workshop on handy skills for 50 women entrepreneurs. The workshop was focused on educating women business owners in the informal sector to build structures around their businesses and practice the act of bookkeeping. The bank, through the SBIncubator, has instituted the STEM for Girls Programming Bootcamp for young girls to put their skills to test by working in teams on a product of their choice.
The SBIncubator, in collaboration with UNDP-SDP, Botswana, South Africa Youth Forum, Divaloper and a few change makers, hosted the Women Power Talk, which saw a community of women change makers and leaders relentlessly committed to changing the status quo and breaking the bias. The event hosted the Deputy Minister of Information and Technology, Nana Ama Dokua Asiama Adjei and the Namibian Presidential Advisor, Mrs Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi, to discuss how to leverage on technology for, entrepreneurship, economic inclusion and empowerment. Through our nurturing culture of learning and mentorship, the SBIncubator continues to provide women led start-ups and female entrepreneurs with exceptional soft-skills and technical knowledge. We provided a platform to share the voices and stories of female entrepreneurs.
As a member of the Standard Bank Group whose purpose is to drive Africa’s growth because it is our home, we believe we can only drive this growth if we play our part in ensuring that women and girls enjoy the same rights as men and boys. In the corporate world, that also means that we must create an enabling environment, free from bias, in which women are able to advance and succeed on the basis of merit and ability.
As we recognize women and their contributions to building our societies this month, we recognize the efforts of Ghanaian women and Ghanaian entrepreneurs. Their efforts, as the backbone of this country’s economy, are recognized and most appreciated. On this note, we wish all women in Ghana a happy International Women’s Day.
By Linda Aryee Ebale
The writer is a Communications Officer at Stanbic Bank