On International Women’s Day, Opportunity International Canada launched EmpowerHER, a campaign bringing attention to our many projects that target our female clients. The need for projects that target women is great as women are often disproportionately affected by poverty and have the most pressing financial needs. Opportunity Canada’s Financial Inclusion for Enterprise Development (FINEDEV) is one of these projects helping women to unlock their potential in Ghana. In partnership with Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans (SASL), the FINEDEV project focuses on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), women, and vulnerable groups throughout Ghana. The project aims to increase access to formal financing, financial literacy, business training, networking opportunities, and gender-equity strategies for women.
In Ghana, like in many other countries around the world, gender inequality especially in the labor force impacts a woman’s access to employment and her potential earnings. Women are commonly employed in low-earning activities, often in vulnerable and precarious situations. Despite their equal work and contribution to the labor force, women are more likely to remain in poverty. This pattern of disparity between genders in income earning and as a result poverty, is the reason why our gender-sensitive projects exist. We have realized that breaking the poverty cycle is interconnected with a more balanced future. By assisting women to enter the same job markets as men, we can unlock their potential and further development.
Joyce began partnering with Opportunity International through SASL's youth entrepreneurship program. She made the best of this opportunity and used the training to prepare herself to start her own business. Through training in the program, she learned to apply her skills and interests as a hairdresser. After graduating from the program, she found a way to utilize the business skills she honed through this program. Equipped with an Opportunity loan, she set out to open her own beauty shop. She had the know-how of a hairdresser, the confidence, and business skills to manage the operations behind running the shop.
In appreciation of all the opportunities she has been offered, Joyce chooses to pay it forward. She takes everything she has learned in her journey and acts as a mentor to other women in her community to help them start their own businesses. She is a business owner who is sharing her knowledge to encourage further growth in the community. She even employs three apprentices whom she is helping to work and support themselves.
Joyce's experiences exemplify the goals of the FINEDEV project. She is the perfect example of how one woman can unleash a world of potential when given the opportunity.
Small-medium enterprises (SMEs) in Ghana account for 92% of all businesses and are critical for providing sustainable employment and providing economic growth. As such, encouraging female involvement in the SME market has been a key focus of our project in Ghana. FINEDEV targets female entrepreneurs and business owners in the SME market while also securing employment opportunities for women.
In order to close the economic gender gap, FINEDEV is equipping women with a choice and power in financial and business affairs. The project does this through financial services including loans, and savings accounts; business training and development events for linking networks between clients; financial inclusion conferences that equip women with the knowledge to take advantage of SME markets; innovating digital financial services; and conducting research on the SME sector. With these offerings, the project aims to reduce poverty by prioritizing and empowering women in a way that is sustainable, innovative, and inclusive.
The most recent manifestation of this project has been a financial inclusion conference for women. The conference is focused on encouraging and training women to take advantage of the SME market. The conference is impactful as it teaches business principles to encourage decision-making and financial management to assist women SME owners. Women are encouraged by their peer testimonials following a theme of “I can do it; you can do it too!”.
EmpowerHER aims to support this financial inclusion conference by providing an opportunity for women in Ghana to attend. Business development opportunities like this are rarely extended to women in Ghana. The conference is a unique event for Ghanaian women who are eager to learn more about how they can develop themselves as business women. You can help a woman in Ghana to unlock her potential by giving her the opportunity to attend one of these conferences. The outcome reaches far beyond one particular woman as it sets off a continued chain of economic growth for her entire family and community.