The Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Elsie Addo Awadzi, has urged women entrepreneurs in the technology space to take advantage of innovations in the country’s budding fintech industry to scale up their businesses.
She said the sector provided many opportunities they could explore within the Central Bank’s Regulatory Sandbox environment to test innovative applications to help expand access to finance for themselves.
She was speaking at the graduation ceremony for the first cohort of the Standard Chartered Bank (Ghana) Women in Technology Business Incubator Programme in Accra on Thursday.
Launched last year, the programme, organised in partnership with the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre of the Ashesi University, provided business incubation and financial support to women-led or women-owned businesses that desired to launch new technologies or grow their businesses with technology and make a significant impact in their communities.
The 14 graduates, who make up the first cohort, were selected from 220 applicants from five regions and given a four-month entrepreneurship skills training. Five of them received 10-week additional business support and a grant of GH¢57,000 each to help scale up their businesses.
Mrs Awadzi said the programme was commendable because although women entrepreneurs dominated the country’s private sector, their businesses were smaller and less profitable than those of men due to the lack of access to business support services and lack of access to finance.
Female entrepreneurs in the country, she said, were eight per cent less likely than men to get access to the needed capital and other financial services and products to start or scale up their businesses, according to the World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex Survey.
“The programme has provided them with world-class business and entrepreneurial skills and exposure, which will go a long to help them build competitive and sustainable businesses that will stand the test of time.”
“The programme has also better prepared them to present their businesses to banks, private equity firms, and other investors to obtain financing for the next stage of growth”, she said.
Mrs Awadzi, therefore, urged the beneficiaries to uphold the high standards of business management and entrepreneurship, taught them to build strong and globally competitive businesses and mentor other entrepreneurs.
She expressed the commitment of the Central Bank to promoting a policy and regulatory environment that supports inclusive and broad-based economic growth where all economic actors, particularly women and youth entrepreneurs, are able to innovate and access appropriate forms of finance and at cost-effective rates to help launch, grow, and sustain their businesses.
While congratulating Standard Chartered for its valuable contribution to inclusive growth through women’s economic empowerment, she urged other banks in Ghana to take a cue in the spirit of the Ghana Sustainable Banking Principles to help address the current gap in access to finance and business support services for female and youth.