The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development recently celebrated the conclusion of the Women Entrepreneurship for Africa (WE4A) project, and in doing so, sent a powerful message to the Government of Ghana about the importance of supporting women in business.
The WE4A Project's Mission
The WE4A Project was a dynamic initiative aimed at empowering African women entrepreneurs and driving economic growth while promoting gender equality in entrepreneurship. This transformative endeavor was founded on the principles of targeted training, financial support, and strategic partnerships with the private sector. Collaboratively implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Tony Elumelu Foundation, and co-funded by the European Union, WE4A made substantial strides in advancing women's entrepreneurial journeys.
Celebrating Success: Capitalizing on Women's Potential
The closeout ceremony was a jubilant occasion, celebrating the achievements of 40 remarkable women entrepreneurs. The theme, "Capitalizing on the Full Potential of Women Entrepreneurs for Employment Creation," epitomized the spirit of the event. During the two-year project, several milestones were reached:
Empowering with Grants and Investments: Four beneficiaries were awarded a substantial grant of Euro 120,000 from Safeem, while eight others were in the final stages of closing deals totaling $2 million from pitches with local investors.
Enhancing Business Management: The project deepened participants' understanding of individual business models and growth pathways. It bolstered their capacities in various critical areas, including financial management encompassing taxation, audited accounts, and business strategy.
A Call for Women's Economic Empowerment
Gerald Guskowski, the Cluster Coordinator of Sustainable Economic Development at GIZ Ghana, commended the women for their successful completion of the training program. He stressed that women's economic empowerment remains a vital issue in Africa, with African women exhibiting higher economic activity than women in any other part of the world. Yet, despite relative economic stability and increased investment expenditure in Africa, employment growth rates and job quality remain suboptimal.
The Gender Disparity in Africa
Guskowski pointed out a startling reality - wage and salaried workers constitute only 28% of the total employment in Africa. Informal employment accounts for approximately 86% of all employment on the continent. Moreover, the labor force participation rate for women in Sub-Saharan Africa stands at 62.5%, compared to 72.5% for men. The gender gap in labor force participation is narrower in Africa than in many other regions, but more than 70% of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have limited or no access to financial services.
The Ongoing Quest for Women's Empowerment
Even as the WE4A Project concludes, the call for empowering women-led enterprises continues. Guskowski urged all stakeholders to join forces to increase the economic inclusion and empowerment of women in Africa. It is a collaborative journey that goes beyond the lifespan of this specific program.
Success Stories: Transforming Lives and Businesses
The project didn't just offer training; it ignited the potential of 40 women entrepreneurs. They underwent comprehensive training in capacity building, bookkeeping, investor readiness, and more. As a result, they have collectively secured 217 jobs and created 103 new positions.
A Call for More Inclusivity
Stella Akosua Ansah, Director of Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSME) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, appealed for more women to be included in such empowering projects. She encouraged women entrepreneurs to seize opportunities when they arise to improve both themselves and their businesses.
Gratitude and Transformation
The beneficiaries themselves attested to the life-changing impact of the project. Women like Mariama Abubakari, founder of Simply Green, a health and wellness brand, expressed their profound gratitude. Through the WE4A project, she received technical assistance that elevated her business and allowed her products to thrive in the market.
Anaporka Adazabra, CEO of Farmio, an agribusiness specializing in greenhouse farming systems, also expressed her thanks. Her yield and business improved significantly due to the project's support. These success stories underline the immense potential of women entrepreneurs and the impact that targeted initiatives like WE4A can have on their businesses and lives. The project has created a lasting legacy of empowerment, gender equality, and economic growth in the African entrepreneurial landscape.