THE Ghana Association of Women Entrepreneurs (GAWE) has initiated a programme that has facilitated access to credit for its members.
In collaboration with the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC), members of GAWE contributed GH¢10 each month into a mutual fund managed by Fidelity Bank.
Within six months, GAWE was able to use their mutual fund contributions as collateral to negotiate for loans for its members.
Members now have double or tripple the amount they contributed as loans for their businesses.
The project of facilitiating access to credit was one of the achievements under a collaborative project of GAWE and BUSAC, called "Women's Access to Credit," and brings to an end the project which started about three years ago.
Speaking with the Daily Graphic at a stakeholder conference on the project, the Nationa President of GAWE, Mrs Lucia Quarchey, emphasised the fact that members of GAWE did not wnat special favours, just access to credit.
And that was the thrust of the project, which focused on creating the platform for financial institutions, entrepreneurs and other partners to dialogue on the lack of access to credit for women, while sensitising financial institutions to pay more attenction to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) an building the capacities of women to embrace change for successful enterprises.
The Fund Manager of the BUSAC Fund, Mr Dale Rachemeler, commended GAWEfor being one of the fifteen institutions given a BUSAC grant and achieving results with it.
He said credit was critical to all businesses at any stage of growth, therefore, the lack of access was critical, particularly for women as their inability to gow their businesses affected all.
Mr Rachemeler said although BUSAC would end in 2009 after being in operation for nine years, the success gained by BUSAC with institutions like GAWE, had prompted donors to support a BUSAC II programme that will begin in 2009 and run for another five years.
He advised members to use their experience gained to advocate other issues of critical concern to women under BUSAC II.
The conference saw the participation of Mr Ekow Afedzie, the General Manager of the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE), Mr Thomas Kwami of Data Bank and Mr Daniel Ofori-Dakwa of Purple Management Services Limited.
All three emphasised the need for women entrepreneurs to so structure their businesses as to make them attractive enough to be listed in the future.
Mr Kwami of Data Bank, said private equity was one of the ways by which women entrepreneurs could have access to funds for their businesses.
Although the requirements of attracting private equity funds into one's business was not as rigourous as reguirements for listing on the GSE, achieving the requirements for private equity could set the company on the path to listing ofn the GSE in future.
Some requirements entreprenuers had to meet to attract private equity, Mr Kwami said, were a well structured management of the enterprise and consistent earnings with audited accounts.
Mr Ofori-Dankwa for his part proposed leasing as a viable source of credit for entreprenuers in the country.
The Director, International Desk for Women of the Ministry of Women and Childrens' Affairs (MOWAC), Mrs Marian Takie, in a keynote address delvered on behalf of the sector minister, said although achievements had been made since the 1995 Beijing Womens' World Conference, a lot more needed to be done.
DAILY GRAPHIC, MONDAY OCTOBER 20, 2008