Despite the pandemic’s impact on the local economy, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA), Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, has said it also came as a blessing in disguise, as it led to an increase in funding for women-owned businesses.
According to her, out of about 900,000 applicants of government’s Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP BuSS), 70 percent of them were women who requested half of the funds, a situation the CEO described as never seen before in terms of improving access to funding for women entrepreneurs.
“It brought to light that women entrepreneurs were suffering from access to funding, and so, when this programme came up and COVID came in, for the first time in the history of interventions, the government of Ghana committed over GH¢600 million.
And, all of those funds were directed and given to the MSMEs to support the work they do. It also allowed Young Africa Works under the MasterCard Foundation to also give us more funding to give to the beneficiaries. It opened doors for women entrepreneurs, so that’s a beautiful thing and I think we need to look at that.
“That tells you that a lot of the women businesses are micro, so how do we use this data and information to transform these women-run businesses to the next level? The beauty of this is that the data will allow us to strengthen more women in businesses,” Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh said at the 10th edition of the Ghana Economic Forum organised by the B&FT.
Mrs. Yankey-Ayeh further said that lack of information is another challenge startups in the country are going through, hence, beyond access to finance, it is necessary to address this gap.
“We wanted to have a framework to support the ecosystem, as without that, there would be no direction and we would be going nowhere. We have looked beyond access to finance to access to technology and information. We are looking at how to increase sensitisation as there is a lot of information out there and we want to bring it closer to young people,” she said.
Managing Director of Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST Africa), Ashwin Ravichandran, also sharing his view as a panelist, pointed that there is a lack of ‘education on the part of startups and investors alike.
“I do not think that there is a lack of funding within the country or a lack of access to capital. I think the problem comes from a lack of education on both sides. Once that education improves, it would be a lot easier, but growth would not happen overnight,” he said.