Esther 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.
April 18, 2017 the search engine Google shows a Doodle for 98th Birthday of Esther Afua Ocloo, in few countries. The Google Doodle shows Esther Afua Ocloo empowering the women of Ghana with the tools to improve their lives and communities.
As both an entrepreneur and an advocate for microlending, “Auntie Ocloo” worked tirelessly to help others like her succeed. Esther Afua Ocloo had only six shillings to her name — less than a dollar — when she made and then sold her first jar of marmalade as a teenager in the 1930s.
Esther was determined to expand her livelihood of making marmalade and orange juice, but she needed a loan to increase production, and credit was hard to come by for poor women. It took persistence and a supply contract to secure the money to start her company, Nkulenu Industries.
After traveling to England to learn the latest techniques in food processing, Esther returned home and shared those skills with other Ghanaian women. Perhaps more importantly, she taught them everything she knew about starting and running a business, which put more money in their pockets. She made such an impact that in 1975 she was invited to the first U.N. World Conference on Women.
Esther and other advisors knew that lending money to women could have a ripple effect, improving the prosperity and health of the women as well as their communities. But because they lacked collateral, low-income women were often ignored by banks. So in 1979, Esther helped found and became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Women’s World Banking, which provides millions of low-income women with the small loans needed to reach their financial goals.
Afua Nkulenu was born in the Volta Region to George Nkulenu, a blacksmith, and his wife Georgina, a potter and farmer
She was a founding member of religious groups such as the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Madina (a suburb of Accra) and the Unity Group of Practical Christianity (Ghana). She also assisted in forming a women’s group in the E.P Church known as Bible Class with the aim of studying the bible and home management.
She served on the synod committee of the E.P Church for 12 years.
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