By Gifty Saal
With the declaration of the golden age of business by the current government, women have not been left out! There has been a lot of encouragement from the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs and quite a number of NGOs, one of which is Women in Progress, to help small business women acquire business skills and enable them to expand their businesses.
With the forth-coming presidential elections, the major issues to be raised when helping Ghanaian small business woman helps in extending the “life” of the income purse in the home are the following:
- What trade policies will the next president initiate and support?
- Will he have the welfare of the small business woman at heart?
- Will there be any changes in taxation that may adversely affect small businesses?
- What will the government do to promote investor confidence and attract foreign direct investments?
- Will the current healthy business atmosphere be sustained to enable small businesses to thrive?
These are the burning issues on the minds of the up-and-coming small business women. I strongly believe these issues can be addressed if women are educated to have a positive attitude toward voting and to study carefully each presidential manifesto in order to make a right and objective choice.
Gifty Saal is the owner/manager of Giftex Impex, a batiking enterprise in Cape Coast. With Gifty’s positive attitude, keen business mind, and artistic ability, she is well equipped to quickly expand her business through international trade.
Global Mamas is the brand name for apparel and accessories produced by many small business women in Ghana through the facilitation of Women in Progress (WIP). In addition to looking for export markets abroad to generate income for women in Ghana, WIP also is focusing closer to home to develop international markets.
Tourism in Ghana is on the rise and it represents provides another lucrative avenue, closer to home, for generating sales. On its first venture, WIP partnered with one small woman-owned business, Eli-Emma Batik, in August to sell goods at the Cape Coast castle. During the first week in September, WIP also opened its own Global Mamas store at the well-known Kingsway location in Cape Coast. The store is sharing space with the popular restaurant Cape Cafe, which is recognized by several tourist guidebooks (such as Lonely Planet and the Brandt Guide.) Each woman batiking or sewing products for the store has also shown her commitment by volunteering in the store monthly.
Other exciting partnerships have also developed outside of Cape Coast. Wild Gecko in Accra has placed several orders for batik apparel this summer and has also generated orders for Global Mamas products from US retailers. Novica.com, an affiliate of National Geographic that helps artisans in developing nations, has also agreed to sell Global Mamas products on their website. The site should be launching early fall 2004. WIP is thankful to everyone’s hard work in making Global Mamas a reality!
by Esther Gyepi-Garbrah
Nothing comes on a silver platter regarding emerging as or being a successful woman. There are many significant and pertinent key words that lead to a tremendous number of women becoming successful. In my opinion, adhering to these certain key words as a guideline determines the tendency to succeed or substantially emerge as a successful woman. They are as follows: Education, Target, Enterprise, Dedication, Efficiency, Focus, Strategy, and Management. These are the paramount qualities for a woman’s establishment or venture. Furthermore, the success also becomes attainable when the above-mentioned keys are applied properly, in a working format. From my perspective, a typical, successful woman is always characterized by certain qualities. They are as follows: determination, good customer relations, willingness to work hard, patience, and tolerance. The questions, “How can a woman’s dreams come true?” and “What is the possibility of achieving success?” are challenging ones, but perhaps they could be answered most simply by one word: Education. Education, commonly referred to as the key to success, is so powerfully able to enrich and expose you to all the significant ethics of professionalism. In conclusion, I believe strongly that if women will enthusiastically welcome submission to all these disciplines, they will improve their opportunities to emerge as successful women.
Esther Gyepi-Garbrah is the owner/manager of My Redeemer Fashions and was an inaugural member of Women in Progress. She successfully manages six full and part-time employees and has seen her business double in just two years.
On May 6, eight women entrepreneurs received their diplomas signifying completion of their Women in Progress’ computer training class. Volunteer Beth Davidson, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, created and instructed the training course. The course includes instruction on introduction to computer, Microsoft Office and Word, browsing the Internet, and typing. The eight graduates were Comfort Koomson, Florence Thompson, Elisabeth Ampiah, Emma Myers, Cecelia Quiacoo, Janet , Esther Gyepi-Garbah, and Alice Korsah. Women in Progress offers these graduates access to computers and software where they can put their knowledge to use by keeping their business accounts on the computer.
Women in Progress continues to use the course developed by Ms. Davidson to teach women computer skills. There are currently over ten students being taught by four volunteers. Computer training will continue to be an important part of Women in Progress’ efforts to help local Ghanaian women grow their businesses.
Since the opening of its first overseas office in Ghana in March 2003, Women in Progress (WIP) has been focusing on launching its International Trade program. Taking an unusual approach, WIP started at the end. What? Before making a full-force effort to help businesses become “export ready”, WIP helped its clients to first identify overseas markets!
Filling orders on an increasing scale since June has allowed WIP’s clients to build their capacity through “on the job” training. Using the “assisted implementation” approach, WIP helped 9 businesses manufacture products that were on time and met the rigorous quality standards of US consumers. By focusing on obtaining markets first, the women have been able to acquire customer feedback and proactively adapt to market tastes, introduce product standards, and implement processes for more efficient and consistent production.
With just a handful of volunteers and one employee, the founders of WIP have self-funded a pilot program that has assisted 9 businesses (54 total people including employees and apprentices) in Cape Coast to develop a unique line of clothing and accessories. WIP successfully secured preliminary markets in the US for these items and shipped 6 export orders with a combined retail value of over $22,000.
In just 5 months, WIP’s efforts led to the generation of 5 new jobs and an additional $970 in profit for each participating business—nearly doubling each business’ normal yearly profits. See page 2 for initial successes of 6 businesses.