The Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Ernest Addison, has encouraged banks to take gender inclusive financing more seriously to help close the widening access to finance gap.
He said designing customised products for women entrepreneurs would not only help more women to expand and sustain their businesses but would enable them to contribute to the country’s economic growth.
This was contained in a speech read on his behalf by the Second Deputy Governor, Elsie Awadzi, at the opening of the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) Finance Series, Ghana.
AFAWA is an initiative of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) which aims to reduce estimated $42 billion financing gap that affects women on the continent and unlock $5billion in financing for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned and managed by women by 2026.
The Finance Series aims to introduce African Finance Ministers, central bank Governors, financial regulatory Bodies and financial institutions and other stakeholders to partnerships that seeks to increase financial inclusion for women-led enterprises.
The Ghana edition, the first in West Africa and the third since its inception three years ago is being organised by the AfDB, the African Guaranteed Fund (AGF) and the Ghana Bankers Association (GBA) to intensify efforts to close the widening financing gap through capacity building sessions.
Dr Addison said closing the gap was crucial because the global financial report 2021 states that Global Gender Gap in access to financial services had declined from nine per cent in 2011 to six per cent in 2021, meaning about 745 million women in the developing world still lack access to financial services.
In Sub Saharan Africa, he said, the gap was 12 per cent, while the gap for Ghana, as reported by the World Bank for the same period, was 11 per cent, an indication that the situation was worse.
As a member of the alliance for Financial Inclusion, he said the BoG, had put in place regulations to encourage support to women entrepreneurs and would work with stakeholders to help achieve the target.
The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ms Lariba Abudu, in a speech read on her behalf said although, the government was rolling out initiatives to empower women financially, including access to loans and other assistance, support from other stakeholders would help boost efforts.
“Research has shown that when women have access to finance, they invest in real families, communities and businesses, leading to increase productivity and sustainable economic growth,” she said.
The AfDB Country Manager, Ms Eyerusalem Fasika, said AFAWA was the first pillar of the Bank’s 2021-2025 Gender Strategy aimed at promoting gender inclusion and that the Bank would work with stakeholders to achieve that aim.
“Empowering women economically was not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. The evidence is clear: women’s economic empowerment is critical to economic growth,” she said.
The AGF Chief Executive Officer, Mr Jules Ngankam, and the President of the GAB, Mr John Awuah stated their commitment to the course, since inclusion in the finance sector was key to growth.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR & SONNY SEYRAM QUARTEY