A new report by Finance and Management Company, AYA Institute, has identified that majority of women traders and women-led businesses are unaware of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – a year after its commencement.
AfCFTAThe report, titled, “Assessing The Potential of Women-led MSMEs in Ghana to Take Advantage of AfCFTA,” also pointed out that traders and women-led firms complained of not having sufficient time to prepare for the start of the AfCFTA.
It also showed that about 72% of traders and 54% of companies are unaware of the AfCFTA.
According to the report, even though majority of firms agree that the AfCFTA is a good initiative, they observed that accessing its benefits is a major challenge.
“The challenges include insufficient and inaccessible funds, taxes, macroeconomic instability, transportation, COVID-19 and difficulty in understanding AfCFTA protocols among others”, the report stressed.
Providing more explanation, a researcher with the Institute, Eunice Panyin Offei said, “there is the need for immediate sensitisation for women-led businesses to know about the opportunities it presents”.
“The other major thing we found was lack of financial assistance. Government should provide financial assistance or make it favourable to enable women access loans to fund their businesses to expand and grow,” she added.
Marketing Manager of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Grace Dzeble advised women in MSMEs to consider collaborations to enable them access funds.
“When you pool resources together, it is always better than one person operating a business. The challenge in our part of the world is that, people want to own 100% of a 100-cedi-business than to own one percent of a million-dollar business. It is very important that the women partner, so they can be able to benefit from synergies among themselves,” she said.
Outlining some measures to remedy the situation, Sector Chair for Agribusiness under the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Fatima Mohammed, said her outfit is implementing steps to support women-led agribusinesses under AfCFTA.
“At the AGI, we have a wing for women in business including women in agribusiness. We have a lot of interventions, workshops and conversations to better equip them as my outfit is more of a policy implementer. However, we link them to agencies like the GIZ where they get financial support or training in whatever area they need,” she highlighted.
The research was supported by the German Cooperation, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry as well as the AGI.