Esther Afua Ocloo - Pioneer of Micro Lending

Biography of Esther Afua Ocloo - Pioneer of Micro Lending BiografiaEsther Afua Ocloo (April 18, 1919, Peki Dzake - February 8, 2002 ) was a Ghanaian entrepreneur and pioneer of microlending. She was born Esther Afua Nkulenu. She was one of the founders of Women's World Banking in 1976, with Michaela Walsh and Ela Bhatt, and served as its first chair of trustees. She received the 1990 Africa Prize for Leadership. Esther was married to Stephen and they have four children, Vincentia Canacco her daughter, and her three sons Vincent Malm, Christian Biassey and Steven Junior.

Biography of Esther Afua Ocloo - Pioneer of Microlending BiografiaAfua Nkulenu was born in the Volta Region to George Nkulenu, a blacksmith, and his wife Georgina, a potter and farmer. Sent by her grandmother to a Presbyterian primary school, she proceeded to a coeducational boarding school at Peki Blengo. Poverty forced her to travel there weekly with food supplies which she cooked herself. She won a scholarship to Achimota School, travelling there on money provided by an aunt, and studied there from 1936 to 1941, when she obtained the Cambridge School Certificate. The first person to start a formal food processing business in the Gold Coast, she built up a business supplying marmalade and orange juice to Achimota School and the RWAFF. Sponsored by Achimota College to visit England from 1949 to 1951, she was the first black person to obtain a cooking diploma from the Good Housekeeping Institute in London and to take the post-graduate Food Preservation Course at Long Ashton Research Station, Department of Horticulture, Bristol University.

Biography of Esther Afua Ocloo - Pioneer of Microlending BiografiaExpanding her business, she again visited England in 1956 to develop recipes for commercial canning. To face down prejudice against locally produced goods in Ghana, she formed a manufacturers' association and helped organize the first Made-in-Ghana goods exhibition in 1958. Encouraged by Nkrumah, she was elected the first President - from 1959 to 1961 - of what became the Federation of Ghana Industries. In 1964 she became the first Ghanaian woman to be Executive Chairman of the National Food and Nutrition Board of Ghana. In the mid-1960s she also moved into the tie and dye textile business.

Biography of Esther Afua Ocloo - Pioneer of Microlending BiografiaFrom the 1970s onwards she was involved at a national and international level in the economic empowerment of women. She was an adviser to the Council of Women and Development from 1976 to 1986, a member of Ghana's national Economic Advisory Committee from 1978 to 1979 and a member of the Council of State in the Third Republic of Ghana from 1979 to 1981. An advisor to the First World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, she promoted the availability of credit to women as a founding member and the first chairman of the Board of Directors of Women World Banking from 1979 to 1985. Esther died in Accra, Ghana after she developed pneumonia in 2002. She received a state funeral in Accra, and was buried at her hometown, Peki Dzake.

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