President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged more women into entrepreneurship and politics, saying, their greater inclusion in the nation’s affairs is the most important force for development.
The vision of ‘Ghana beyond Aid’ would materialise quicker when the entrepreneurial spirit of women, who are active agents of change, was harnessed effectively.
He was speaking at the closing of 2018 Women Entrepreneurship Summit, organised by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), in Accra. It was held under the theme “Ghanaian women entrepreneurs: from voices to action.”
The summit brought together policy makers, women innovators and entrepreneurs to engage in relevant conversations and discussions on the challenges hindering growth and profitability of their businesses.
President Akufo-Addo said he found it encouraging that the number of women entrepreneurs had considerably increased over the past decade. With over 40 percent of women’s participation in the country’s entrepreneurial space, the figure could go up if given the maximum push and support.
“Women’s economic empowerment is one of the world’s most promising areas of investment with almost instant results – the reduction and eventual eradication of poverty and widespread unemployment.”
To bridge the gender inequality gap, the President announced that the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) had been directed to see to it that 50 percent loans disbursed were given to women engaged in small-scale farming and businesses.
There was a deliberate policy to also strengthen the capacity of local businesses by ensuring that 70 percent of all government-funded contracts or projects were awarded to local contractors. “Out of this, initially 30 percent of the contracts or projects are being awarded to women,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo said government was firm in its conviction that it was the competitiveness of indigenous enterprises, in the agricultural, manufacturing and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors that would determine the nation’s capacity to create wealth “for our women, and wealth in our society.”
The competitiveness of the private sector, he noted, was critical to addressing issues of inclusion, economic development and growth.
“That is the only way we can build a Ghana beyond aid—freeing our people from a mindset of dependence, aid, charity and handouts, and building a self-reliant economy, which will mobilise the immense resources of Ghana, material and human, with women and youth in the forefront, to resolve Ghana’s problems. That is the focus of my government.”
He said with the farming population consisting of greater numbers of women than men, it was a certainty that more women would be involved in the planting for food and jobs programme.
He pointed out that, “Women empowerment has been given a tremendous boost by the implementation of our free senior high school policy. Last year, 90,000 more students, the majority of whom were girls, entered senior high school, than in 2016.”
Our educational reforms are encompassing also the scaling up of technical and vocation education training, which will benefit many young girls, to equip our youth with the skills necessary for the construction of a modern economy.”
President Akufo-Addo said as they focussed on economic and educational reforms aimed at women empowerment and entrepreneurship, they were not overlooking the critical importance of enhancing women’s participation in the governance of the country.
“We are making systematic efforts to meet our goal of gender parity in the distribution of public offices, both at the centre and at the districts, for we see the two sides of political and economic reform as two sides of the same coin for promoting gender equality and women empowerment.”
He spoke of the restructuring of the NBSSI, to make it an institution with a renewed drive to provide first class enterprise development services to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
“It will co-ordinate all programmes designed to integrate the MSMEs into agricultural and industrial value chains with market linkages to investment opportunities, being promoted by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, under our flagship “One District, One Factory” initiative, and other industrial initiatives, and by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture under the programme for Planting for Food and Jobs.”