Panelists discussing female entrepreneurship have asked the Government to put women-led businesses at the centre of solutions to the current economic hardship.
They said the time had come for Ghana and other African countries to be intentional about addressing the barriers that impeded the business operations and growth of women-led businesses, especially those in the agriculture value chain.
They said this during a panel discussion at the launch of a study that assessed the potential of women-led Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana to take advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
They noted that supporting women-led enterprises would not only help speed up Ghana’s economic recovery and transformation agenda, but make the economy resilient against future economic shocks.
The survey research report launched in Accra by CUTS International was prepared by the Aya Institute for Women, Politics and Media, with support from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).
Professor Alufar Bokpin, an Economist and professor of Finance, said the time required that women-led businesses were given the platform and requisite financial support to turn things around.
He said: “It is in hard times like these that we see the patience, endurance, entrepreneurial and innovative skills of women at home and in the office and in managing businesses, so, let’s promote women-led businesses.”
“If we will be mindful to use the limited fiscal space that will be created as we go through reforms in enabling women-led businesses and traders, I am very sure will come out of this crisis stronger,” he added.
The professor of Finance called for administrative reforms that would make women-led businesses “truly lead the country’s quest for solutions to the current difficulties”.
Mrs Fatima Ali Mohamed, the Chairperson of Women in Agribusiness, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), called for a shift in the consumption attitude of Ghanaians and Africans.
“The problem is that we’re producing what we don’t eat, then we import what we eat. We import over 950,000 tonnes of rice and eat rice in the morning, lunch and dinner, but we don’t grow enough rice,” she lamented.
“Let’s stop talking flowery and get to the real problem. Let’s get our leaders to move away from this ‘what’s in it for me syndrome’. We need to lift our people and it’s high time we did it,” the AGI Women in Agribusiness Chairperson said.
Mrs Agnes Gifty Adjei-Sam, the Director of Market Development and Promotion at the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), called for tax incentives and easy access to funds for women-led businesses.
Madam Kakazi Kacyira, a Project Assistant at the AfCFTA Secretariat, said a protocol would be ready next year to support women and youth-led businesses to capitalise on the opportunities of the free trade.
“The protocol is to make legally binding commitments as to how women can benefit from the trade agreement and the second is to deal more with informal cross-border traders by formalising the sector,” she said.
Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, the West African Regional Director for CUTS International, said the dialogue was important because of the role women played, particularly in the informal sector.
He said there was a lot to be done to support women-led businesses to increase trade, especially on the African continent and noted that they would be organising a series of dialogues to accentuate and escalate the issues to policymakers.