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Esther Afua Ocloo: Ghana’s Inspiring Businesswoman

Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Today would have been Esther Occlo’s 98th birthday. In her honor, Google changed its homepage logo in the United States; Ghana; Peru; Argentina, Iceland; Portugal; Sweden; Australia; Greece; New Zealand; Ireland and the UK to a “doodle” — or illustration — of her empowering the women of Ghana.

Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Esther Afua Ocloo launched her entrepreneurial career as a teenager in the 1930s on less than a dollar.

She quickly became one of Ghana’s leading entrepreneurs and a source of inspiration around the world. Today, on what would had been her 98th birthday, Google dedicated to her a ‘doodle’ illustration.

In addition to her own business, she taught skills to other women and co-founded Women’s World Banking (WWB), a global micro-lending organisation.

On its website, the WWB microlending network says it lends to 16,4 million women around the world, managing a loans portfolio of over $9bn.

Known as “Auntie Ocloo”, Esther dedicated her life to helping others like her succeed.

“Women must know that the strongest power in the world is economic power,” she said in a speech in 1990.

“You cannot go and be begging to your husband for every little thing, but at the moment, that’s what the majority of our women do.”

How she started
As a high school graduate with only a few Ghanian shillings given to her by an aunt, she bought sugar, oranges and 12 jars to make marmalade jam.

Ocloo sold them at a profit, despite the ridicule of her former classmates, who saw her as an “uneducated street vendor”.

Soon she won a contract to supply her high school with marmalade jam and orange juice, and later managed to secure a deal to provide the military with her goods.

On the basis of that contract, she took out a bank loan.

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