Cosmetics entrepreneurs tackling gender inequity scoop national business awards in Ghana
Two alumnae of Camfed's Ghana programme have won top awards for their successful businesses. Ayisha Fuseini of Asheba Enterprise, a shea butter processor which supplies The Body Shop, accepted two awards including Female Entrepreneur of the Year at the Invest in Africa Awards (IIA). Esther Naanbir, of Agape Moringa Processing, won Woman of the Year at the Vodafone Small and Medium Enterprises Ghana Awards (SMEGA).
Both women were participants in the Mastercard Foundation’s Innovation Bursary Programme (IBP), a youth enterprise initiative delivered by Camfed in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, designed to create opportunities for young women to become leaders of change and contribute to the diversification of the rural economy.
Ayisha, who has a deep commitment to the empowerment of women in her community to become self-reliant social entrepreneurs, commented: “I feel very proud about myself and my business. The recognition alone is enough motivation for me as it simply means institutions are confident about my business and this is testament to the long lasting impact of the Camfed - Mastercard Foundation IBP”.
The IBP was intended to support youth livelihoods in rural Africa and serve as a catalyst for rural women to become successful entrepreneurs and employers in their communities. In recent years Ghana has seen a fast-expanding youth population, combined with a lack of job opportunities. A World Bank report in 2016 revealed that 48% of Ghanaians aged between 15 and 24 do not have jobs, with young women being particularly disadvantaged.
Ayisha’s company, Asheba Enterprise, has become a household name for many rural women in her district and its surrounding communities. The company produces soap, body creams and other products using high quality shea butter. Ayisha works with more than 200 women, grouped into cooperatives and as individuals, to secure fair prices for their produce and ensure stable incomes as well as training them in financial literacy and business skills.
Esther runs Agape Moringa Processing, which currently employs 15 full-time workers, and has six cosmetic products on the Ghanaian market made from moringa oil. She said: “For me, the intervention from Camfed in both my education and the development of my business is what has brought me this far. Camfed... also provided me with numerous platforms to grow my business”.
Ayisha and Esther have previously received accolades for their enterprise. In 2015, Ayisha was one of only 16 women selected by the Government of Ghana to receive Youth Enterprise Support (YES). They were both also awarded prizes from Technoserve, which allowed Esther to register her business with the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority.
The recognition for these two young women as flourishing business-owners and role models is testament that with training and support, female entrepreneurs can offer sustainable and profitable opportunities for themselves, their families and their communities. At the same time they are shifting gender norms and stereotypes in rural areas, unlocking the tremendous potential in women from marginalised backgrounds to contribute to the growth of local and national economies.
This month Camfed and the Mastercard Foundation are launching a new Entrepreneurship Programme, supporting 145 young women with internships, business starter kits and a network of mentors, to encourage the next wave of female entrepreneurs in rural Ghana.
Image: Esther Naanbir accepts her award at SMEGA
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Camfed is an international non-profit organisation tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change. Camfed invests in girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls face acute disadvantage, and where their empowerment is now transforming communities