Trade Minister launches Ghana’s African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme

Ms. Hannah Tetteh - Minister of Trade and Industry

Ms Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry on Wednesday launched the Ghana Chapter of African Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme (AWEP), which is a rallying point for total support for women entrepreneurship and export trade.

The organisation, which is purely non-governmental, has the vision of empowering women entrepreneurs in Ghana to make a positive impact on their societies and lead in advocating for an enabling environment for women in business and women’s effective participation in international trade.

Being an initiative of Mrs Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State, to empower women entrepreneurs in Africa to take advantage of the favourable terms of trade under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), AWEP has trained selected women from across Africa to form NGO chapters in their respective countries.

Ms Tetteh acknowledged the critical contribution of private enterprise including Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the Gross National Product (GDP), saying it was therefore important to support women who were obviously the driving wheel behind these SMEs.

She expressed Ghana’s appreciation for the support of the United States Government in this respect and gave the assurance that government would offer the programme all the needed support by creating the enabling environment in capacity building, funding as well as export expansion for women entrepreneurship to thrive.

Ms Tetteh said the Ministry had on-going programmes such as the Industrial Policy and Export Support Programmes and the Export Trade Support Services, where AWEP would fit into.

She admitted that the challenges associated with earlier interventions for women empowerment had been enormous, and that though significant gains had been made it was hoped that with dedication and unity of purpose, Ghana would succeed in improving on the socio-economic development of women as enshrined in the “Better Ghana Agenda.”

Mrs Silvia Banda, Chairperson of AWEP Zambia and Pan-African President of the Organisation, commended Ghana’s National Executives and encouraged them to strengthen their collaboration and partnerships beyond their borders, while ensuring internal democracy to make the organisation progressive and all inclusive to ensure sustainability.

Mrs Juliana Azumah-Mensah, Minister of Women and Children’s Affairs (MOWAC) in an address read for her expressed joy at the eventual launch of AWEP Ghana, saying “Obviously, the development and empowerment of our women and girls cannot be left to government alone.”

She said there was an urgent need for building alliances between the public and private sectors to realise the objective of promoting the empowerment of women.

Mrs Azumah-Mensah pledged MOWAC’s commitment to embrace and encourage any initiative that sought to enhance and positively impact on the lives of women, especially girls, and expressed the hope that AWEP would become an agent for change and a role model for women entrepreneurship in Ghana.

Ms Comfort Adjahoe-Jennings, Chairperson of AWEP Ghana, said women owned and operated up to one-third of the formal sector businesses in Africa and a much greater proportion of informal businesses which were all driving growth on a level that could not be ignored.

She said the potentials that these companies held were enormous, as many were primed to expand as the region’s economic growth continues.

Ms Adjahoe-Jennings said AWEP intends to initiate and encourage discussions among members of the Chapter on all problems concerning entrepreneurship and especially export business in Ghana and offer advice to government, developing agencies and private sector organisations on possible support and assistance to women oriented economic ventures.

It would collaborate with other organisations having objectives similar to those of the Chapter and lobby for funds to promote enterprise development on behalf of its members from public and private sector sources both at regional and international levels.

She called on interested persons to contact the AWEP Secretariat at the Trade Fair administration block or the Ministry of Trade’s Annex Office near Ghana Institute of Journalism for registration forms.

Mr Donald Teitelbaum, US Ambassador to Ghana, stressed that in the era of huge global competition and business environment, no country must allow almost half of its population to go handicapped, as such neglect could lead to a dreadful consequence on the entire nation.

He noted that initiating AWEP was a significant step by the US to empower women entrepreneurs in Africa to take advantage of AGOA and had since been providing various forms of support to sustain the initiative.

Mr Teitelbaum urged African women to be business oriented and not shy away from making money, indicating that by expanding their networking it was possible for them to expand their businesses beyond the US market into other countries.

Source: GNA

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