Esther Afua Ocloo
(April 18th, 1919- February 8th, 2002)
She is known across the world as a Ghanaian Entrepreneur, one of the founders of the Women’s World Banking in 1976 and the pioneer of microlending. She was a devout Christian and founded Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Medina and the Unity Group of Practical Christianity. She was born to a poor family in the Volta Region, West Africa. Her father was a blacksmith and her mother a potter and farmer. She attended a Presbyterian primary school and a boarding secondary school in Peki Blengo. She was so poor she had to travel to school with food supplies so she could cook in school.
She attended Achimota School on a scholarship from 1936-1941; she obtained the Cambridge school certificate and became the first person to start a formal food processing business in Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana). She ended up supplying orange juice and marmalade to Achimota School.
Achimota College sponsored her to England from 1949-1951. She was the first black person to obtain a cooking diploma from the Good Housekeeping Institute in London and a postgrad from the Bristol University.
She learnt how to make commercially canned food and organised the first made-in-Ghana goods exhibition in 1958. This was to get rid of the prejudice against locally made products and to expand her business. She was elected the first president of the Federation of Ghana Industries from 1959-1961.
From 1976- 1986 she became an adviser to the Council of Women and Development and Ghana’s Economic Advisory Committee member from 1978-1979. She was an advisor on the first women’s conference in Mexico in 1975. She advocated for the availability of credit to women. She became the first chairman of the board of directors of women’s world banking from 1979-1985. She got married in and had 3 sons and a daughter. She died in Accra, Ghana of pneumonia in 2002 and was buried in her hometown in Peki Dzake.