In a typical Ghanaian socio-economic setting, property ownership is male dominated. Despite efforts by non-governmental organisations and the government, there are still societies that have women breaking their backs just to make a few pennies. This was decisively challenged by Yaa Bisom; a woman with many hats: a wife, queen mother, voice for the voiceless, and trader. It’s not an exaggeration to describe her as a local feminist.
In 2017, Madam Yaa Bisom well known as ‘Nana Henmaa” (Queen Mother) organised a group of women in her community to access VisionFund loans. She did this after an incident where a community member became destitute after the demise of her husband, challenged by seeing a woman who had so much energy but no opportunities to be productive and financially sound. Yaa resorted to organising a group of women in her community to determine areas that they can venture into to be economically viable.
Through the meetings she formed the Di Nokware group, an all-female group that trade in three main fields: Tuba, cereal and tailoring. The group operates on two models: any member that joins must select one of the fields to be eligible for a loan and must also have experience in that field.
The group has been operating for four years, giving birth to other subgroups.
Speaking in the local dialect, she said, “The government will help us… but we will help ourselves before they remember us… our proverb has it that the one who climbs a fruitful tree deserves a push.”
Nana Henmaa’s influence and zealous attitude towards her female community members has led to the creation of similar self-serving female training groups in nearby towns. A group member, Madam Abudu Mercy, indicated that she would have still been a burden on her husband if Yaa Bisom had not stepped out of her palace with this innovation. “John, my eldest son, is now in the university, I am the only person taking care of him. I am able to do it because of the group and the loan.” Mercy continued.
“No woman must suffer because of money… if VisionFund will give us what it takes to speak boldly, why not!” Madam Bisom concluded, smiling.
Story by: Abban Enoch Johnson, VisionFund Ghana