Women in Mining Ghana (WIM), an advocacy body for women working in the mining sector, have called for tailor-made support programmes by financial institutions to address the funding needs of their members.
The women said currently, the traditional lending sources were unfriendly, especially to their members operating within the Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining (ASM) industry, due to stringent procedures and requirements.
They made the call at a dialogue with some financial institutions in Accra, to discuss findings from a collaborative study by WIM and The Social Investment Consultancy Africa (TSIC) under a project on “Promoting responsible and sustainable Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining among women in Northern Ghana and see how best these banks could assist female operators in the extractive industry.
Madam Amina Tahiru a Member of Women in Mining Ghana, and an Artisanal and Small-Scale Miner, said the study among other things revealed that women operating in communities had limited knowledge of business management practices, lacked access to funding from financial institutions, as well as technical support to sustain and expand their operations.
She said the dialogue with financial institutions was especially important because apart from the funding aspect of their needs, they also needed technical training and basic accounting knowledge for the effective and sustainable management of their businesses.
“It is not only about taking the monies and going to start our businesses, but sometimes we need training as well, without which some may mismanage these funding and cause them to go waste,” she said.
Madam Tahiru also mentioned the issue of stereotyping of women, saying some banks and potential clients would not enter negotiations with female-led businesses unless it was led by a male, which was unfair.
WIM Ghana, she said, continued to carry out projects and research, and although women in ASM were doing a lot to improve the status of their families and communities, these would fail to yield the required results with little or no financial and technical support.
She thanked Ecobank Ghana, TCL, ABSA Ghana, and the Apex Bank respectively for their presence at the meeting, and for also indicating their preparedness to support WIM Ghana and its members with financial and technical training and maintain a healthy dialogue for the benefit of all.
The training given to beneficiaries would equip them with the required knowledge on good business practices, and banking qualities that would strengthen their chances and relationships with the banks for further assistance to expand their businesses, she said.
Mr Frederick Amo Atakora, the Value Chain Officer at Ecobank Ghana, said his outfit understood the key role of women in socio-economic development and believed in the empowerment of women as enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He disclosed that the bank had already dedicated a desk to attend to empower women financially and provide them with non-financial support, with a special desk officer to mobilize and train beneficiaries to become financial literate.
The desk also provides support for clients under categories such as businesses owned by women; businesses with significant shares by women; businesses being managed by women; and those producing for women.
Mr Atakora said a sustainable programme was also in place for regular education for clientele, to broaden their understanding of business successes, and how to build confidence, trust, and support with financial institutions.
He said the bank, therefore, shared in the WIN Ghana vision with its existing set-up and promised that it would be expanded after the engagement, to ensure the designing of tailor-made solutions that meets the needs of all women in the mining sector.
“This is to ensure that it does not become an off-shelve solution that we throw at each person that walks to us, because their needs may be peculiar,” he said.
Mr Atakora said some financial institutions were reluctant to grant loans to women, due to the uncertainty about the repayment even though statistics available had indicated that females were better observers of loan repayment than males.
He called for continuous capacity and confidence-building between the two, saying once the right structures were in place and women were empowered financially, they would repay loans given to them.
He advised the women to form identifiable groups rather than approaching financial institutions individually and encouraged banks to strengthen monitoring systems, to ensure that monies given out were repaid on schedule for others to also benefit.