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GCIC Cohort 8 Explores Gender Barriers To Financing

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“In my line of work, you need to speak to people to stock your products. And I realized that some of these people I encounter, look at me as a woman not a business owner and because of that they are quick to say no before listening to me.”

These were the words of Juliet Agyapomah Larbi, the Founder of Mpampa Cereals, and a cohort 8 entrepreneur of the GCIC Business Incubator. Juliet made this statement during a Women Entrepreneurship Transformation Programme (WETP) Masterclass, which was exclusively organized for female entrepreneurs within the GCIC’s 8th cohort.

The WETP is an integral part of the business incubation services provided by GCIC, specifically tailored to address the need for gender-sensitive business advisory services and to empower women in the business sector.

Ruka Sanusi, the Executive Director of GCIC led the masterclass and explained the significance of gender barriers to financing in the marketplace, citing that empirical data, including GCIC’s findings, indicate that businesses led by men generally outperform those led by women. This is attributed to men’s more transactional approach in business dealings compared to women’s more transformative approach, where there is usually a more medium to long term outlook in business performance – a marathon as opposed to a sprint.

The room’s diverse entrepreneurs, whose businesses ranged from sustainable menstrual product production to local cereals and cosmetic products, all shared stories demonstrating how personal motivations and passion inspired their enterprises and acknowledged the unique challenges women face when it comes to obtaining financing.

Priscilla Akoto-Bamfo, the founder of Shepherd’s Rice Mill and a former banker, disclosed her struggles in securing equity financing due to biases against women. She shared, “People often question my credibility, doubting if I truly own a rice mill, especially given that it’s an industry dominated by men.”

Shobita, the founder of Legendary Foods, also revealed the discomfort she sometimes feels as a woman advocating for herself in business settings. She emphasized her commitment to combating this discomfort by entering investment rooms armed with her undeniable credibility.

Ruka encouraged the group to adopt intentional approaches to securing financing. She emphasized the need to recognize endogenous factors acting as gender barriers to financing, as well as exogenous barriers such as currency fluctuations, market access, inflation, government policy, and supply chain considerations, among others.

To conclude the session, the entrepreneurs were provided with the opportunity to present their business strategies to the room and to receive valuable feedback to further improve them.

This gender masterclass is the first of a series of female focused masterclasses that cohort 8 will participate in, designed by GCIC to ensure that male and female led climate-smart SMEs within the business incubator can actively, fairly, and equitably participate in the business sector.