Break barriers that impede success of women entrepreneurs - US Ambassador

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Mrs Stephanie S. Sullivan (left), the United States  Ambassador to Ghana, presenting a certificate to a graduand, Ms Grace Abena Mbro, CEO of Grace Star Fashion Design and Bead-Making in Gomoa Central
Mrs Stephanie S. Sullivan (left), the United States Ambassador to Ghana, presenting a certificate to a graduand, Ms Grace Abena Mbro, CEO of Grace Star Fashion Design and Bead-Making in Gomoa Central

The United States (US) Ambassador to Ghana, Mrs Stephanie S. Sullivan, has emphasised the need to break down the barriers that hold women back from succeeding as entrepreneurs to make economies stronger for everyone.

She said although women entrepreneurs had the drive, talent and commitment to start and grow businesses, they often did not get the same opportunities and support that men in businesses received.

“One of the top priorities of the US government is the promotion of inclusive economic growth and increasing trade and investment between the US and countries in Africa.

“We aim to support and develop entrepreneurs because we know they can be powerful engines for economic growth and job creation,” she said at the graduation ceremony for women entrepreneurs by the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE).

A total of 89 women, out of 103 participants in the third cohort, graduated after a 15-week hybrid (virtual and in-person) training in entrepreneurship and business management.

The programme, launched in early 2019 by the White House and funded by the Bureau of Education and Culture of the US Department of State, seeks to teach women around the world to become successful entrepreneurs.

Mrs Sullivan said the increase in the number of participants from 30 to 42 and to 103 in cohorts one, two and three, respectively, showed the demand for such training.

“We see the benefits multiply because when women succeed, children are educated and communities thrive. You should be proud of your accomplishment in completing this course, in the midst of all the competing demands on your time and energy,” she said.

AWE training

Giving an overview of the AWE training, the Country Lead, AWE Ghana and Project Director, YALI Regional Leadership Centre, Mrs Shola Safo Duodo, described the third cohort as the largest ever and widest coverage in terms of implementing regions.

She said the AWE was unique because it brought together a pool of enterprising young women drawn from all sectors of the economy to network and harness their potential, with the ultimate aim of improving their businesses.

Mrs Safo-Duodo explained that participants were selected from six regions — Greater Accra, Central, Western, Ashanti, Volta and Eastern.

“These industrious women have braved the odds to complete the entire programme, in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic which influenced the implementation,” she said.

She said participants were taken through modules in confidence building, strategic planning, social media marketing, basic accounting, client relations and management, among others.

She expressed gratitude to the US Department of State and the US Embassy in Accra for their immense support, in terms of training and facilitation, to the AWE programme from its inception to now.

Mrs Sarah Danquah Yeboah, the CEO of Sangy Nursing Services, one of the graduands said the training had helped her to better understand her strengths and weaknesses in running her business and how to overcome them.

Another graduand from the Grace Star Fashion Design and Bead-Making in Gomoa Central, Ms Grace Abena Mbro, said the AWE training had helped build her confidence to push forward to succeed as an entrepreneur.

“Initially, I sold ‘saabo’, but through the AWE training, I have diversified and I am now able to cater for my family,” she said.

The CEO of Cling Events Ghana, Nana Akua Akuffo, said she was able to manage her business well through a proper accounting system.