The Standard Chartered Women in Technology incubator hosted its first-ever graduation ceremony, celebrating the passing out of 14 women-led start-up businesses from the incubation programme. The hybrid event which was held at the head office of Standard Chartered Bank Ghana PLC represents a historic milestone for the graduates as well as the incubator programme which is the first of its kind running in Ghana under the bank’s Futuremakers initiative.

The programme which was strictly by invitation due to COVID-19 protocols was an intimate gathering of an in-person and virtual audience that comprised of the graduating businesses, the organising partners, and invited dignitaries including Mrs Mansa Nettey, Chief Executive – Standard Chartered Ghana, Her Excellency Harriet Thompson, British High Commissioner, Mrs Elsie Addo Awadzi, Deputy Governor – Bank of Ghana, Patrick Awuah, President – Ashesi University, Ruka Sanusi, Executive Director- GCIC, Khadija Hashimi – Head, Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing, Africa and the Middle East & Country Head – Standard Chartered Bank Pakistan.

The event started with a welcome address by Mrs Mansa Nettey who commented that ‘’We have seen the world of business experience its share of setbacks especially among micro, small, and medium enterprises who are the most integral part of our daily life.’’ She further added that ‘’We are providing the platform for women-owned and led businesses to tap into opportunities offered by technology adaptation to enable their business to thrive in a post-COVID-19 digital world. I am truly proud of the first cohort graduating today. It takes a lot of resilience to go through such a rigorous programme especially during a crisis. I believe the skills you have received during this programme will really equip you to scale up your businesses further.’’

Giving a welcome address on behalf of the implementing partners, Mr Patrick Awuah emphasised the need for the graduating class to never compromise their values, know where their purpose is, pay attention to their customers, and take care of their business, the people in their business, and themselves, to be able to grow their business.

Khadija Hashmi in her speech mentioned that ‘’The unique aspect of our Women in Tech incubators is that we throughout process identify entrepreneurship ventures which are female-led, and we bring all of these cohorts together into a network.’’ She added that ‘’We really equip these companies to really think about their business models and what it really takes to upscale themselves in today’s day and age. I think the Women in Tech programme across all our markets has played a very pivotal role in enabling female-led businesses to participate more within economies.’’

In her keynote address, Mrs Addo Awadzi, referred to the World Bank’s 2017 Global Findex Survey, saying that the participation of female entrepreneurs in Ghana’s fast-growing technology sector remained marginal although there was great potential for women to play a key role in that space. She, therefore, called on banks to support women-owned businesses to access business support that will catapult them to the top. She added that the launch of the WIT business incubator programme, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic with its attendant job losses and business failures, was a bold step towards helping to solve multiple policy challenges including women’s access to finance, job creation especially for youth, making businesses more resilient using technology, and ultimately promoting a resilient bounce-back of the Ghanaian economy post-pandemic.

Addressing the graduating class, Ruka Sanusi urged the fresh graduates saying ‘’Be intentional about your personal mission and growth, deliver at the nexus of client needs, societal needs, your needs as the founder, and the needs of your team.’’ She further mentioned, ‘‘Also leverage this financial success, leverage values-aligned third-party suppliers and business partners, and do all of this sustainably without damaging our planet.’’