More than 600,000 women-led businesses and entrepreneurs across the country are benefiting from various interventions and programmes being rolled out by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI).
The figure, which represents majority of all beneficiaries, includes about 190,000 recipients of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS) which has been disbursed to approximately 300,000 applicants so far.
The Executive Director of the NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, who disclosed this yesterday said 16,000, representing 81 per cent of the 20,000 beneficiaries of the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works programme, were women, likewise 64 per cent (about 400,000) of the over 635,000 beneficiaries of all other projects being run by the Board.
Speaking at the opening of a post-International Women’s Day (IWD) virtual seminar and master classes, she said women constituted a chunk of beneficiaries of the Board’s interventions because they faced more business related challenges including lack of access to finance, although they dominated the informal working force.
These intentional efforts, she said were in line with the Board’s special focus of supporting women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, empower them to achieve their full potential and bridge the gender gap.
Each year, IWD is commemorated on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements and to call for a co-ordinated and concerted effort to promote gender balance and equality.
The theme for this year’s campaign “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.”
The Seminar was organised by NBSSI, which is transitioning into Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works with support from Persol Systems, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), MTN Ghana and Axis Pension Trust.
According to Mrs Yankey-Ayeh, the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic had worsened gender inequality as women had been compelled to work harder than they used to, while still earning less because the informal work sector they dominate was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic-induced challenges.
She said aside the aforementioned programmes, the Board with support from various partners, was rolling out new interventions to support all Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and therefore, entreated policy makers and private organisations to help alleviate the challenges facing the sector, especially women.
Gender Lead at Mastercard Foundation, Nafisatu Yussif, said the foundation was funding various projects with focus on youth and women because it was envisioning a world where everyone had equal opportunity to progress.
With Ghana having more than half of its population being women, but underrepresented in key sectors, she said the foundation would continue to offer its support so that the country did not leave behind the greater part of its population and all the socio-economic benefits that comes with the demography.
Chief Executive Officer, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Mrs Delese Mimi Darko, said the Authority was collaborating with NBSSI to support businesses, especially women-led ones to take advantage of the Africa Continental free trade market through its Progressive Licensing Scheme which had given permit to several industries and goods for the market.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR