Access ‘W’ marks 7th anniversary with Pan-African women’s conference

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Joana Bannerman (2nd from right), Head Business Development for UEMOA, Access Bank, West Africa, making a submission during the panel discussion. Picture: ESTHER ADJORKOR ADJEI

Access Bank Ghana PLC in partnership with Scale Up Africa has marked the seventh anniversary of its flagship women’s initiative ‘W’.

As part of the celebration, it hosted leading women across Africa to a Pan-African Conference held on the theme: “Woman, be Unstoppable; Break the Bias”.

It brought together women to collectively promote a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination and instead, embrace one that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

It also aimed at inspiring women across the African continent to look beyond the biases they face and pursue their dreams.

Riding on this year’s International Women’s Day theme, “Break the Bias,” the hybrid event had over 2,500 participants joining from various countries on the continent in person and via virtual platforms.

Economic empowerment

Speaking at the event on April 28, in Accra, the Managing Director of Access Bank, Olumide Olatunji, said there was the need for women to be unstoppable in their quest to achieve ambitious goals.

Stressing on some interventions by the bank in support of women, he said access to income and assets were critical aspects of women’s economic empowerment.

“Since its inception, the ‘W’ community has supported over 400,000 women through a range of empowerment offerings such as training in financial literacy, access to markets and mentorship programmes,” he added.

He mentioned the Knowledge Hub series, SME Startup Clinics, and Womenpreneur Pitchathon, Maternal Health Schemes, as vehicles through which the bank continues to support women’s advancement.

Mr Olatunji said his outfit had channelled over GH¢70 million in loans to women-owned businesses and would continue to provide both financial and non-financial support to women, adding that “our W initiative also supports upcoming entrepreneurs who have viable ideas with grants and technical support to birth their businesses.”


The Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chair Centre Group, Ibukun Awosika, in her keynote address encouraged participants to champion their personal branding and break their inherent biases instead of focusing on the societal stereotypes .

“Women need to be more strategic by focusing their energies on the strengths and the value they can bring to the table,” she said.

She advised women to be confident in their vision and talents and consistently enhance their skills, adding that ‘you need to have a circle of believers around you; those who will spur you on to achieve your dreams.”

Women who graced the conference included Joyce Bawa Mogtari, the Head of Business Development for UEMOA, Access Bank, West Africa, Joana Bannerman; the Executive Director for Retail Banking at Access Bank Ghana, Pearl Nkrumah; the founder and CEO of Echo House Ghana Limited, Beryl Agyekum.

Also there were: Co-founder and CEO of Jetstream Africa, Miishe Addy, CEO of Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum, Irene Ochem; Founder and President of Justina Mutale Foundation, Justina Mutale, and actress and entrepreneur, Roselyn Ngissah, who all took turns to share their professional and personal journeys.

‘W’ initiative

The ‘W’ Community is designed to bring together women around the world, allowing them to connect with each other and share experiences through forum discussions, informative articles, capacity building and networking events, to inspire, connect and empower women.

The ‘W’ Initiative, the home of everything Access Bank has to offer women, is targeted at inspiring, connecting and empowering women with a focus on three segments including Women Professionals, Women in Business and Women and Family.

The initiative has won many local and international awards, including the Global Financial Inclusion award from the Banker Magazine, Global Banking Alliance’s Highest Engagement Award and Women Banking Brand of the year by Sustainability and Social Investment Awards.