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Two Mastercard Foundation IBP Scholars win awards

Two beneficiaries of the Mastercard Foundation funded Innovative Bursary Program (IBP), Ayisha Fuseini and Esther Naanbir, have received various awards in recognition of their entrepreneurial initiatives that have positively impacted their lives, their families and their communities as a whole.  Ayisha and Esther’s awards underscore the far-reaching impacts of well-thought out empowerment and development programs such as the IBP.

 

The IBP was implemented between 2010 and 2015 as a collaborative effort between Camfed and the Mastercard Foundation, founded on shared values and a mutual commitment to learning. Under the program “Investing in the leaders of change - girls’ education and young women’s empowerment in rural Ghana and Malawi”, the IBP was designed to create opportunities for young women to become leaders of change and contribute to the diversification of the rural economy. It was intended to support youth livelihoods in rural Africa and serve as a catalyst for rural women to become successful entrepreneurs and employers in their communities.

 

One hundred young women benefitted from the IBP and were exposed to new knowledge and business ideas, and to the business models and financial services that will allow them to replicate same in their rural communities. The young women benefitted from technical skills training and exposure to sound business practices, market research, market linkages, mentoring, peer support as well as tailored internships to adequately prepare them to launch and grow their businesses. With these offerings, it comes as no surprise that Ayisha and Esther, two beneficiaries of the IBP, have won a number of awards through their entrepreneurial initiatives.

 

Ayisha wins Female Entrepreneur and Business Innovation of the Year Awards

 

Ayisha launched a shea butter processing and brokering business called Asheba Enterprise in the Northern Region. Her business has become a household name for many rural women in her district and its surrounding communities. She produces soap, body creams, ointments, pomade and detergents. A distinguishing feature of Ayisha’s business is the training she offers women cooperatives in shea processing. She also trains individuals and community members in financial literacy, records keeping and basic business skills. Ayisha works with more than 200 women grouped into cooperatives. She supports them to identify potential markets and secures good prices for their produce, an important step to ensuring stable incomes for these women. Ayisha’s initiatives are not motivated by a desire to make profit but from a deep commitment to the empowerment of young women in her community to become self-reliant and social entrepreneurs.

 

As a result of these initiatives, Ayisha became one of only 16 women selected by the Government of Ghana to receive the Youth Enterprise Support (YES) in 2015. She was also one of the IBP beneficiaries to win a business plan competition organized by Technoserve Ghana.

 

Invest in Africa Award

 

At an awards programme organised this year by Invest in Africa (IIA), a not-for-profit organisation with the vision to create thriving African economies, Ayisha was adjudged Female Entrepreneur of the Year and Asheba Enterprise emerged as Business Innovation of the Year. It is heartwarming to note that Asheba Enterprise was nominated under five different categories: Sustainable business of the year award; Business transformation of the year award; Scale business of the year award; Business innovation of the year award; and Female entrepreneur of the year award. Ayisha received a citation and a plague and indicated, “I feel very proud about myself and my business. The recognition alone is enough motivation for me as it simply means institutions are confident about my business and this is testament to the long lasting impact of the Camfed – Mastercard Foundation IBP”.

 

Esther Wins Woman of the Year Award

 

After receiving support under the IBP and subsequent internship in India, Esther started her Agape Moringa Processing Business in 2012. Her business has grown steadily and she currently employs 15 full-time workers. Esther has six products on the Ghanaian market including Agape Soap, Agape Body Cream, Agape Powder, Agape Hair Pomade and Agape Moringa Oil. Due to her strong passion for growth, Esther received a cash award of 1,500 Pounds Sterling from Technoserve Ghana’s Engine Program in 2014 which she used to register her business with the Food and Drugs Authority and the Ghana Standards Authority.

 

Due to Esther’s resilience and focus, she received the SME Woman of the Year Award at the Vodafone Small and Medium Enterprises Ghana Awards (SMEGA) held at the Banquet Hall of the State House. The awards seek to recognize and shine a light on promising small and medium-scale enterprises that are torchbearers in excellence and innovation. An excited Esther stated, “For me, the intervention from Camfed in both my education and the development of my business is what has brought me this far. Camfed did not only intervene in my education and business but also provided me with numerous platforms to grow my business”.

 

As part of the award, Esther received a certificate, a trophy and a tablet.  Her enterprise, Agape Moringa Processing Business will also benefit from an insurance package that covers its assets and employees from Activa Insurance. The Business and Financial Times newspaper has also pledged to advertise Esther’s business and products to boost sales and improve revenue. Esther intends to support young women in her community by imparting the knowledge and experience she has gained.

 

Conclusion

 

The successes achieved by Ayisha and Esther in running their businesses after benefitting from the Camfed-Mastercard Innovation Bursary Program underscore the far-reaching impacts that can be made through programmes and projects designed and tailored to meet the specific needs of young women. The awards also demonstrate the widely-held view that when given the resources and opportunities, girls and young women have the capability to break the glass ceiling and achieve their fullest potential. The future is bright when young women are positioned to achieve secure livelihoods as Ayisha and Esther have demonstrated.

Esther receiving her award