Personally, I think the days of male dominance are almost behind us. OK, I could start ranting about the modern “man vs woman” issues, but that’s not what I’m here to write about. Instead, I aim to champion the ladies who are starting up businesses (and successful ones) in parts of the world you wouldn’t expect.
Ghana is my chosen country for this piece because this country and its people are not exactly blessed with sidewalks made of gold. Nor is it a place of great economic growth…or so I thought. In fact, it turns out that a select few are helping to put this place on the world map.
Did You Know……
It’s not a secret that as a continent, Africa’s largest industry is agriculture and it supports many peoples’ livelihoods. However, the artisan industry isn’t far behind it these days. In fact, exports within the industry were reported to be worth $32 billion back in 2016, and this sector is now the second largest employer behind agriculture.
What’s interesting about the artisan industry is that it employs a high number of women, and in Ghana this is a major step forward. This is because it’s giving women the opportunity to take more control over their own lives and earn a decent living.
Using Skills Passed Down the Generations
There are female entrepreneurs who are paving the way with new businesses across Africa, and Ghana has its own fair share (more on them in a moment). What’s great about some of these businesses is the ladies who work for them are using skills that have been passed down from mother to daughter over many generations.
Things like basket weaving, tie-dying, batik and other textile industry skills are being put to use. Of course, it’s not just clothing, jewelry and accessories that fall under the artisan bracket. Wood craft is also up and coming as is perfumes, drinks and indoor décor which are all championed for the use of natural products.
Helping Local Communities
The lady I think everyone should know about is designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, who was born in Ghana and lived her whole life there until she left to study design and fashion in London. That’s about as cosmopolitan as it got for this remarkable woman whose head wasn’t turned by the bright lights of England’s capital city.
Instead, once qualified, she returned to her home country and started a company called A.A.K.S. What’s great about the way Akosua works is that she only utilizes traditional Ghanaian skills, and since her company is essentially about making handbags, this means local raffia weavers (who tend to be women) make up the majority of her workforce.
It’s worth noting that the small community she started working with weren’t experienced with raffia, but she wanted to use it because of its ethical values.
Find a Gap and Fill It!
Akosua is not only creative, but very clever and has managed to find a gap in the textiles industry which can use the skills Ghana has to offer can fill it. The country is, in itself, full of color and vibrant designs which match the current trends we’re seeing being revived around the world.
What this entrepreneurial woman has achieved so far is remarkable. She continues to work with local women and is teaching them to be proud of the fact they’re from Ghana and have an age-old skill not many people can boast. Her long-term goal is to continue producing unique hand-weaved bags that are not only sold locally, but worldwide as well.
Keep up the Good Work
A.A.K.S is not only the only company like this that exists in Ghana where owners are not only female, but also want to put something back into their community. And, right now, I can’t think of anything more inspirational. There are many people living below the poverty line in this beautiful African country, and if these forward-thinking business women can change that, I believe they deserve world recognition.
We no longer live in a world where women should “know their place”, and if a country that’s still at the development stage can prove that, we all can!