Celebrating Ghana’s most enterprising woman – Esther Efua Ocloo

She was born some 98 years ago and passed on to glory in 2002, but her legacy still lives on and has positively impacted the lives of many women around the globe.

Today, April 18, 2017 would have been the 98th birthday of Esther Efua Ocloo, an entrepreneur and the first to start microlending in the then Gold Coast.

She was the first person to start a formal food processing business and she built up a trade on supplying marmalade and orange. Her product brand name Nkulenu became popular.

She traveled to England to upgrade herself in food processing techniques, returned to Ghana and taught local women the skills she had acquired to enable them make a decent living.

Observing how the traditional banks were not favourable to low-income women with regards to accessing loans, she with two others, founded the Women’s World Banking in 1976 and served as its first chair of trustees.

The aim of the nonprofit is to provide financial and technical support to low-income women around the world to start and improve their businesses.

Efua Ocloo again visited England in 1956 to develop recipes for commercial canning and additionally, formed a manufacturers’ association.

She helped organize the first Made-in-Ghana goods exhibition in 1958.

Buoyed by Dr Kwame Nkrumah’s support and her hard work, she was elected the first President of what is now known as the Federation of Ghana Industries and subsequently became the first Ghanaian woman to be the Executive Chair of the National Food and Nutrition Board of Ghana.

She was also a founding member of various religious groups and started a Bible Class group with the aim of studying the Bible and teaching home management practices.

With her enterprising initiatives, Esther had a family – She was married with four children.

She died after battling with pneumonia in 2002 at age 82.

To celebrate the unending list of her achievements, Google has created a doodle to honour her on the Ghana page. 

By Pamela Ofori-Boateng

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