Dr. Esther Afua Ocloo

Dr. Esther Afua Ocloo

(1919-2002)

Founder and Chair, the Sustainable End of Hunger Foundation;

Founder and First Chairperson of the Board, Women's World Banking;

First woman to win the Africa Prize

Dr. Esther Ocloo is a highly successful entrepreneur, industrialist, philanthropist, international leader and the first woman to receive the Africa Prize for Leadership. She is a model to women and men in Africa and worldwide, producing creative solutions to the problems of poverty, hunger and the distribution of wealth. Dr. Ocloo's own business has focused on those critical aspects of feeding Africa that come after the harvest food processing and preservation. In 1942, with ten shillings given to her by her aunt, she bought oranges and made twelve jars of marmalade. Today, her business packages foods using Ghanaian produce ranging from fruit juice to soups. Dr. Ocloo has been a pioneering leader since the time of Ghana's independence. In 1958, she was founder and first national president of the federation of Ghana industries. In 1964, Mrs. Ocloo became the first female executive chairman of the Ghana National Food and Nutrition Board and in 1978, she founded the Ghanaian chapter of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women. Dr. Ocloo has long been committed to providing two essential opportunities to African women: appropriate training and access to credit so that they may start their own enterprises. She accepted the request of the African Training and Research Centre for Women of the UN Economic Commission for Africa to assist in the training of women from many countries in processing and preserving food. At a workshop in Mexico City preceding the International Women's Year conference in 1975, she put forth the idea of an international bank directed specifically to women. The result, Women's World Banking, plays a vital role for the empowerment of women. Historically, women have lacked access to credit because they did not, and often were not permitted, to own assets that would stand as collateral. Women's World Banking provides guarantees for women who can not provide collateral so that they are eligible for a bank loan. Dr. Ocloo became the first chairman of its board, serving in that capacity from 1980 to 1985.