Women-led SMEs in Maritme and Trade  attend empowerment forum 

By Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA  

Accra, May 22, GNA – A forum to mark this year’s  International Day for Women in the Maritime, Logistics and Trade has been held in Accra, serving as a networking event for all Ghanaian women operating in the sector. 

Close to 120 women-owned business leaders and women from the maritime industry gathered at the forum held in Accra, to exchange strategies and learn lessons for business expansion.  

It was held on the theme: “Empowering Women-led Small and Medium sized Enterprises through Trade: Strategies for Growth.”  

The day is celebrated annually on May 18, with focus on women working in various aspects of the maritime domain and thereby facilitating trade around the world.  

This year’s theme was  “Safe Horizons: Shaping the Future of Maritime Safety,” 

The United States Agency for International Development through the Feed the Future Ghana  Trade and Investment (GTI) Activity, organised the forum in collaboration with the Women in International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA)-Ghana. 

Organizers said the forum also aimed to highlight the challenges faced by women-led enterprises in the maritime and trade sectors and explore opportunities to empower and support their growth and development. 

 Focused on fostering gender equality and inclusive economic growth, the forum featured insightful discussions, panel sessions, keynote addresses from prominent industry experts and thought leaders, and an exhibition of products developed by women-led businesses.   

Madam Stephanie Donu Sarpong, Gender, Youth and Social Inclusion Specialist, GTI, on behalf of Nikaj van Wees, Chief of Party, USAID Feed the Future, said the forum aligned with her organization’s vision of nurturing resilient and sustainable women-led businesses and WISTA’s objective of empowering women in trade through collaboration, professional development initiatives and advocacy.  

“The Ghana Trade and Investment Activity is committed to investing in women and girls  and empowering them to assume leadership roles across various sectors,” she said. 

Madam Donu Sarpong said the GTI, since it’s inception, had supported more than 14,000 entrepreneurs  engaged  in agriculture and those involved  in both domestic and international trade of diverse  exportable commodities, benefiting  over 9000 women in the process. 

“The programme has also trained 51 women in maritime industry on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). These sessions covered essential topics such as trading procedures, business registration processes,  and the utilisation of digital tools specific to AfCFTA. This empowerment equips them with knowledge and skills necessary to actively participate in shaping the future of Trade,” she stated. 

Madam Gertrude Adwoa Ohene-Asienim, WISTA Ghana President, acknowledged the critical role of women in enhancing safety measures in the sector. 

“Whether as seafarers navigating the seas, maritime professionals implementing safety protocols, traders risking their lives out there or leaders shaping policies, women have consistently demonstrated their unwavering commitment to economic growth.  

“Today, we come together to honour the important contributions women have made in the maritime, logistics and trade sectors and to commemorate significant milestones,” she stated.  

 Madam Ohene-Asienim, commended USAID, through the Feed the Future Ghana and GTI for sponsoring the programme and for the immense support in collaborating with WISTA Ghana in organising the event. 

She looked forward to closer collaboration with USAID and other organisations to provide platforms for women through networking, advocacy, professional development initiatives for women to thrive in their businesses in the maritime, trade and logistics.  

Mrs Mabel Sagoe, Chief Director, Ministry of Transport, in a keynote address, encouraged women in maritime trade and logistics, to continue to build their capacities to be able to impact positively in the sector and also towards business growth. 

The forum was attended by  representatives from various institutions, women led organisations and businesses, civil society, and private/public sectors who gathered to share their stories, best practices and network. 

It also served  as a nurturing that helped to build resilient and sustainable women-led businesses in Ghana. 

The forum also climaxed the 50th anniversary celebration of WISTA International, established in 1974.