The International Financing Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group with focus on the private sector has rolled out a programme targeted at encouraging financing for female entrepreneurs in the country.
"Banking on Women" (BOW), would see the IFC liaise with selected financial institutions in the country to explore the untapped opportunities within the female customer segment on the Ghanaian business market.
The product would also combine investment support and advisory services to position banks to reach out to female clients who are mostly underserved on the financial market.
At a press briefing in Accra yesterday, the IFC Country Manager, Ronke-Amoni Ogunsulire said studies had shown that women in Ghana continue to make significant progress in the business sector yet, due to structural deficiencies often caused by high poverty and inequality, women entrepreneurs were most challenged in accessing financing and associated benefits than men.
She said, "the 2018 Mastercard Index of Entrepreneurs (MIWE) reports that Ghana leads its peers with the highest percentage of women in business owners at 46.4 per cent as four out of every 10 business leaders in Ghana is a woman".
Ms. Ogunsulire was of the firm belief that most female entrepreneurs in the country could outperform their male counterparts when given access to finance, information and networks as well as operate in an enabling environment.
According to her, numerous non-financial barriers such as social and cultural norms underlying gender biases obstructed women's chances on accessing the requisite finance to grow their businesses.
"According to an IFC study, the estimated unmet credit demand on women entrepreneurs in Ghana is $243 million. This is compounded by the smaller sizes of their enterprises alongside limited access to business education opportunities and networks," she said.
Through the BOW initiative, the Country Manager submitted that the IFC would generate opportunities to empower female entrepreneurs who "represent a crucial segment of the market".
"Ghanaian women who have a strong entrepreneurial culture would benefit from improved access to finance as well as advice and training on business management and entrepreneurship," Ms. Ogunsulire said.
The Global Product Head for the BOW Programme, Jessica Schnabel said women were the "next emerging market and forward-looking banks ought to target women customers as a core growth strategy".
She added that the IFC programme would play a catalytic role in helping financial institutions to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs both profitably and sustainably.