Ms Sally Ofori Yeboah (left), National Director, CAMFED Ghana, presenting a milling machine to one of the beneficiaries

The Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED) programme in Ghana supports girls and young women to find a pathway out of poverty for themselves and their families by addressing the unique challenges faced by those from marginalised rural backgrounds.

CAMFED’s interventions not only support marginalised children to access school and overcome the barriers that keep them from learning once they are in school but also support them on the path to independent livelihoods after completing school by transitioning into further education, employment and or entrepreneurship.  

A key intervention that CAMFED is implementing in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation to see young people, particularly women, take up job and entrepreneurship opportunities is the Young Africa Works strategy. 

Over the next few years, CAMFED will equip 210,000 young people (girls and boys) with work-readiness skills, and directly enable 70,000 young people to secure dignified and fulfilling employment.

DBC

Working with community and district-level champions and partners, CAMFED, in collaboration with the Ghana Enterprises Agency (formerly National Board for Small Scale Industries), in 2020 established District Business Committees (DBCs) to spearhead entrepreneurship interventions in operational districts in the Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East, Upper West, Bono, Ashanti, Eastern, Western, Greater Accra and Central regions. 

The five-member committees have been set up to assist in the smooth implementation of the entrepreneurship component of the Young Africa Works (YAW) strategy and other related entrepreneurship interventions to enable young people to start and sustain their businesses, create jobs for themselves, and others, particularly young women.

Since it was launched in May 2020, the DBCs have been assisting in the identification and selection of entrepreneurs requiring support and supporting young women in their districts to establish and grow their businesses. They have also been visiting entrepreneurs to check on their businesses and offering advice and assistance.

Some entrepreneurs have also been supported to access affordable loans and grants, while others have been assisted to register their businesses and acquire other relevant statutory certification. In some cases, the DBCs have used their knowledge of the district to build partnerships and create networks and opportunities for businesses to thrive.

Engagements with entrepreneurs

Through their engagements with entrepreneurs, DBC has identified and made recommendations for resourcing the entrepreneurs with a range of business start-up kits and equipment, since the lack of equipment has been identified as one of the key constraints of young entrepreneurs.

As a result, CAMFED has provided over 6,000 young women entrepreneurs with start-up kits, specialist equipment and training, to enable them to launch or grow their businesses in 2021.

The items distributed included display fridges, ovens, milling machines, juicers, car spraying machines, hairdryers, and textile and embroidery machines. The young women also received training in business management, packaging and branding, business registration and bookkeeping.

DBCs have also been leading on identifying and providing various forms of customised support to young rural women to start, sustain or grow their businesses.

The work of DBCs as a district-level structure to spearhead entrepreneurship interventions is beginning to yield results as a survey of 911 female growth entrepreneurs in Ghana in March 2021 found that, within six months of receiving CAMFED’s Young Africa Works business growth support (a tailored mix ranging from finance, equipment, materials to support, encouragement and technical assistance), approximately 10 per cent of supported entrepreneurs had already created new paid employment for others; despite the challenging COVID-19 context. They created an average of 3.3 new paid jobs each, translating into 293 new paid jobs.

A survey of 1,864 young women supported to launch new businesses in May 2021, identified that 82 per cent had succeeded in launching a business and creating a job for themselves with support from CAMFED, DBCs and the Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works partnership.

The writer is the Head of Programmes, CAMFED, Ghana