Women entrepreneurs across Africa have been urged to demonstrate resilience and perseverance in navigating the intractable challenges facing their businesses.
This was the overriding call at the just-ended Absa Women Banking Conference, dubbed, “InspireME” organised by Absa Bank Ghana in collaboration with its counterparts in Kenya and Zambia.
All over the continent today, women-owned businesses are making great waves across a diversity of sectors including trade, finance, manufacturing, strategy, marketing, and finance. These businesses are transforming nations and contributing to socio-economic growth in several dynamic ways. However, challenges such as inadequate access to sustainable financing and upskilling of resources still remain.
Absa Ghana has, over the years, supported these businesses with affordable financial solutions in order to help them grow. Additionally, Absa also provides other skills and resources to empower these women to become successful. Recently the bank entered a partnership with Mastercard Foundation to provide women-owned businesses up to GHS1million in loans without collateral.
Last year, Absa Ghana organised the maiden InspireME women banking conference to corral prominent entrepreneurs together to learn and be inspired by each other.
This year, the conference focused on “My Business, My world, My impact” and featured a strong list of successful entrepreneurs from Africa, including Gina Din-Kariuki, a corporate communications practitioner in Kenya, Nana Ama Yankah, a cosmetics entrepreneur in Ghana and Sylvia Banda, founder of Sylvia Group of Companies in Zambia.
In a keynote address, Gina Din-Kariuki, implored entrepreneurs drawn from Ghana, Kenya and Zambia, to remain defiant amid current challenges in order to grow their business. She outlined stages of the entrepreneurial growth process, emphasising that the nascent stage usually pushes most entrepreneurs to give up due to the myriad of problems and frustrations. “However, we have to persevere, demonstrate patience and a positive attitude to overcome these problems and reach the stage of sustainable success and progress.”
During the panel discussion, Sylvia Banda, Nana Ama Yankah, Elizabeth Wasunna-Ochwa, Business Banking Director at Absa Kenya and Banji Lufungulo, Head of Enterprise-Women and Youth at Absa Zambia broke down the issues confronting women businesses and charged the participants to push for better exposure, assistance, and more training to create transformational and inter-generational businesses on the continent.
Nana Ama Yankah, CEO of NAYAK by Africa said:
“Women still have to keep proving their competence and worth to society before they are accepted. There have been cases where I have been advised to hire men if I want the business to succeed. We have had to always keep proving ourselves to everybody. Sometimes customers come to you and are visibly uncomfortable because you are a woman. However, we have to keep going. We have to be intentional about growing, intentional about acquiring the right skills, intentional about getting the right support so we can grow faster than our current situation.”
The InspireMe banking conference is part of Absa’s EMERGE banking proposition, which supports women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs with value-added financial solutions to empower them to grow sustainably.