March 8, 2018

3 things millennials can learn from Esther Afua Ocloo

3 things millennials can ...

Born April 18, 1919, Esther Afua Ocloo, Ghanaian entrepreneur died Feb. 8, 2002, Accra, Ghana. On the mark of women international Day, who else could be on our radar - the microlending pioneer, Esther Afua Ocloo.

A business woman and entreprenuer from West Africa, Ghana. She leads the innovation to pioneer microlending, which focuses on lending budding entrepreneur’s smaller loans.

A popular process called ‘Ajo’ by the Yoruba’s and ‘Asusu’ in Northern Nigeria and across the Mali region.

In 1979, she helped found Women’s World Banking, which offers small loans to low-income women.

Mother, wife, teacher, preacher, and foremost, businesswoman, Ocloo lived a fruitful life in her 82 years on earth. Born on April 18, 1919, to a blacksmith Father and a Mother who made pottery, the young Ocloo attended school in the South Dayi district of Ghana before winning a scholarship to study at the prestigious Achimota College.

  1. 1.    Great innovations do require a great deal of perseverance and Price - As Esther Afua Ocloo business journey shows, she had less than a dollar given to her by a close relative which she used to start a business selling marmalade. She was laughed at by her close families and colleagues, Ocloo never stopped pushing as an entrepreneur.


  1. 2     Tenacity -  In the 1950s, Ocloo traveled to the U.K. to study Food Science and Modern Processing Techniques at Bristol University to broaden her knowledge and expertise in the area of food preservation. Ocloo would later win a contract to supply her high school and the Ghanaian military — with her brand of marmalade. In 1942, nearly two decades before Ghana’s independence, she secured a bank loan and formally established Nkulenu Industries in Accra, Ghana.


  1. 3.    Your Team is Important - With New York investment banker Michaela Walsh, and Ela Bhatt, an Indian cooperative organizer, Ocloo founded Women’s World Banking in 1976, serving as the first chairperson of its board of trustees. During her lifetime, Ocloo was passionate about mentoring female entrepreneurs and grooming them to be independent, productive members of society.


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

 Ocloo was a champion of small businesses and the informal sector. She was also a member of Ghana’s Economic Advisory Committee from 1978 to 1979.

 ” You know what we found?” Ocloo asked once. “We found that a woman selling rice and stew on the side of the street is making more money than most women in office jobs — but they are not taken seriously.”

Ocloo died in 2002 at 88 years old. In celebration of her many lifetime accomplishments and her 98th posthumous birthday, last year, tech giant Google changed its homepage logo in 12 countries, including the United States, Ghana, Peru, Argentina, Iceland, Portugal, Sweden, Australia, Greece, New Zealand, Ireland, and the U.K.