Ghanaian women business owners have been advised to forge strong networks and build resilient business systems to withstand corruption in the business ecosystem. This admonition was given during the second Women for Integrity Series (WISe) virtual town hall meeting on the theme “Doing Business in Ghana – Challenges of Women Business Owners” which took place on 10 June 2020.
The event organised by the Alliance for Integrity in collaboration with Soronko Academy aimed at bringing together women business owners to share their challenges and practical experiences in manoeuvring through the Ghanaian business ecosystem. Issues discussed highlighted on bureaucratic challenges, stereotyping against business women and the existing redress mechanisms available to women entrepreneurs.
Setting the tone for discussions, CEO of Soronko Academy, Ms. Regina Honu bemoaned societal stereotypes against women who were assertive, especially in the business space, which was usually interpreted as arrogance. She also expressed great concern about the excessive patriarchal patronage system in the ecosystem. To buttress her submission, Ms. Honu cited instances where she had to go to business negotiation meetings with her husband in order to secure business deals. She also recounted an instance where she was only granted an office space to rent after her husband had gone with her, although she had met the requirements for renting the space. She therefore encouraged the women business owners to be assertive and to stand up for themselves as society was yet to fully identify with the outspoken woman. She also entreated women business owners to build resilient business systems and networks in order to hold up their integrity amidst the challenges in the business ecosystem.
On her part, Lawyer Adu Ampofo, Managing Director of Velia Consulting and key expert for the town hall meeting, urged women to establish for themselves a business outlook away from the cultural perspective. She advised that women business owners needed to know and understand the impact of every business decision they took and emphasised the importance of always walking away from bad deals and keeping communication lines open.
After a very interactive and engaging open discussions with participants on their challenges within the business ecosystem, Lawyer Adu Ampofo advised participants to have in-depth knowledge of their business processes especially the organisational structure of their supply networks to know who to go to when faced with a challenge. She urged business owners as a matter of priority to include an anti-corruption policy in their proposals during submission. She encouraged the women business owners to take the preventive step as the best option always. Lawyer Ampofo recommended for women business owners to grow their business networks with other women businesses, women leaders and other men who they could trust to escalate issues such as sextortion when they arise. She decried how the labour laws favoured only the corporate environment, stating that “women business owners are not protected and therefore need to take additional steps of protection”. She particularly advised women to record meetings when they felt unsafe and attend business meetings with their personal assistants or trusted partners so as to prevent unwanted advances.
Highlighting some best practices and mechanisms for redress, Lawyer Ampofo urged businesses to have debt recovery plans in place and have agreements drafted into contracts even with acquaintances. She further urged businesses to have plans for contract breaches such as insurance covers.
In closing the meeting, the Advisory Group Chair of the Alliance for Integrity in Ghana, Mrs. Linda Ofori-Kwafo, encouraged women not to compromise on their integrity but to remain committed to the fight against corruption in the business ecosystem. She urged women to network amongst themselves and to take advantage of partnerships with women and people with integrity to avoid being taken compromised and unfairly treated.
Author: Gideon Mankralo