WAGE’s New We-GAIN Initiative: Improving Women Entrepreneurs’ Access to a Range of Critical Services for Business Growth and Resilience via Digitally Enabled Female Agents
The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative-led Women and Girls Empowered (WAGE) consortium, funded by the U.S. Department of State Secretary’s Office of Global Women's Issues, is pleased to announce its new initiative ‘Women Entrepreneurs in Northern Ghana Gain Access to Integrated Services via Agent Networks’ (WE GAIN) program. The 24- month WAGE WE GAIN initiative is led by the Grameen Foundation in close partnership with ABA ROLI and local civil society organizations (CSOs) RISE Ghana, Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), and the HealthKeepers Network (HKN). The initiative’s resource partners include Mobile Telecommunications Networks (MTN) Ghana.
Despite Ghana’s rise to lower middle-income status, rural households, especially those in Northern and upper Eastern districts (collectively, ‘northern Ghana’), experience high poverty rates and economic exclusion. While micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in northern Ghana have the potential to increase employment opportunities for northern women and youth, they remain vulnerable due to multiple intersecting shocks and stressors including:
Female heads of households, women in polygynous households, child brides, widows, ‘head porters’ (migrant young women and girls that are hired to carry goods in the markets), and landless women are particularly vulnerable to the combined effects of poverty, health insecurity, and GBV. Even though many experienced organizations across Northern Ghana are working to address these issues, the services they provide are often gender-blind, siloed, underfunded, and/or unsustainable.
To address these challenges, the WAGE WE GAIN initiative will build the capacity of RISE Ghana, GDCA, and HKN existing community agents to start micro mobile money businesses to deliver an integrated, market-based, high-impact package of financial and non-financial information, products, services, and referrals (Digital Financial Services plus - DFS+). These services will be delivered through MTN’s DFS platform and a complementary digital learning platform thereby increasing the sustainable access of women entrepreneurs in northern Ghana to a range of financial, health, GBV and other critical services they need to achieve personal and business growth and resilience.
The WAGE WE GAIN initiative is currently conducting a barriers and opportunities assessment to identify the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs in starting and growing successful businesses. The assessment will also identify opportunities to address said barriers through DFS+ products and services, GBV prevention and referrals, and business information services to be offered by the project. The assessment findings will be shared with key public, private and CSO stakeholders in Northern Ghana to introduce a set of new services that effectively leverage DFS and GBV prevention/referrals for women’s empowerment.
*Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Government.
 Ghana Statistical Service et al, 2017 Ghana Living Standards Survey 7, June 2019, p. 216. https://open.africa/dataset/ghana-living-standards-survey-glss-7-2017
 World Bank, Global Findex Database, 2017, available at: https://datacatalog.worldbank.org/dataset/ghana-global-financial-inclusion-global-findex-database-2017
 Paul Alhassan Issahaku, Correlates of Intimate Partner Violence in Ghana. Sage Open 1-14 (2017).
 WAGE, Ghana Gender and Inclusion Analysis, p. 31-33 (2020)