Thursday, October 18, 2012

A grant program for businesswomen in Ghana

A little good news today, from the African success story of Ghana. Even with the economy performing well, Ghana still struggles with an education gap between men and women. This gap makes it difficult for women to earn a meaningful wage later on in life.

The education charity Camfed has teamed up with Mastercard to give women a kick-start. Women who were educated by Camfed can apply for grants from Mastercard Foundation to invest in their own businesses.

From the Guardian, writer Afua Hirsch describes the program.

Camfed – which has provided funding for more than 66,000 children to attend primary and secondary school in Ghana since 1998 – believes it has found a way to supplement the poor quality education on offer in state-run schools. In 2002 it created a Ghana "Cama network" of Camfed alumni, which brings together young women who have graduated with its support.
Cama members are able to access skills training on financial literacy, business, leadership and life skills through the network's twice-monthly meetings. And since last year, those who complete training are eligible for "innovation bursaries" – a Camfed/Mastercard Foundation collaboration that offers small grants to female entrepreneurs to kickstart their businesses, together with work experience in relevant industries. Since the first nine bursaries were awarded in Ghana last September, six women have launched businesses, and all are turning a profit, says Camfed.
In Fuo, a rural suburb of Tamale, the capital of Ghana's northern region and one of the poorest parts of the country, 31-year-old Balchesu Iddrisu has turned her husband's family compound into a small food processing hub. Outside are mounds of rice, which she has employed a local elderly woman to sift, removing stones.
A room inside the building contains piles of wheat, soya and maize, which Iddrisu blends with milk creamer and groundnuts to make her own recipe for "weenie mix" – breakfast porridge. Iddrisu sells more than 1,200 units of weenie mix a month – at about £1 a bag – and she has begun approaching large supermarket chains and hospitals to buy in bulk. By buying her ingredients directly from local farmers, she says she has cut out middle men and is able to influence the quality of producers' crops.
"I am very happy with the way my business is going," Iddrisu says. "It helps me and my family a lot. I didn't even know I could reach this level, with people working under me and creating jobs in my community. In 10 years' time I believe that I will have my own factory, and I will be training many people to become entrepreneurs."

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