Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan
To the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Ghana
10th Annual Entrepreneurs and Corporate Executive Awards Celebration
Celebrating Ten Years of Entrepreneurship Excellence
and Business Development in Ghana
Pre-Recorded Video Message | July 18, 2020 | 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I’m Stephanie Sullivan, the United States Ambassador to Ghana.
It’s a great honor to be joining you all tonight, albeit virtually, as we celebrate with the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Ghana the 10th anniversary of its Entrepreneurs and Corporate Executive Awards Ceremony. I know we’re all excited to be participating this year, in the midst of the challenges posed by COVID-19.
First, I’d like to thank the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Ghana for supporting the strong economic partnership between Ghana and the United States over the years. And I want to congratulate all of the nominees who are being recognized this evening for their contributions to Ghana’s vibrant private sector.
Ghana is an important economic partner of the United States and is emerging as a major economy in Africa, with one of the fastest growing economies in the world in recent years.
Between 2018 and 2019, trade between Ghana and the United States increased by 32 percent, with the balance shifting to Ghana’s favor mostly due to increased export earnings in the oil and gas sector.
Furthermore, Ghana’s apparel industry saw a 23 percent increase in trade over the same timeframe. This is thanks, in part, to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which significantly enhances market access to the United States for qualifying Sub-Saharan African countries like Ghana. In case there is any doubt, AGOA is alive and well and has been renewed until the year 2025. In addition, this increase is a testament to our team’s collaboration with Ghanaian exporters through the West Africa Trade and Investment Hub, which has been working with apparel manufacturers to increase Ghanaian exports to the United States. Apparel exports to the United States reached $18 million US dollars in 2019, up from just $570,000 dollars in 2010. And Ghana is now the largest West African apparel exporter to the United States.
These statistics indicate a strengthening relationship and reflect our shared interest in expanding trade and investment between our two nations. The United States also looks forward to the establishment here in Accra of the Secretariat of the African Continental Free Trade Area. As noted in the joint statement between the United States and the African Union at the AGOA Forum in Abidjan last year, we look forward to working with the Secretariat to build a continental trade partnership between the United States and Africa that supports regional integration.
After all, “Wamma wo yonko anntwa anko a, wonntwa nnuru” – If you don’t let your friend cross and reach (his or her destination), you will also not cross and reach yours.
That’s why we all must continue to work together to create the environment in which Ghanaian and other businesses will thrive. It’s the entrepreneurial spirit in Ghana that delivers economic successes, and it’s the people who own and run small businesses who create jobs, raise incomes, and help communities reach their potential.
As we all know, COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges to the global economy and to entrepreneurs. Ghana has not been immune. But I’ve been impressed with how thoughtful, innovative, adaptive, and supportive local entrepreneurs have been in pivoting their production to help combat the virus, weathering its economic disruptions, and protecting their employees and wider communities at the same time.
In recent weeks, I’ve met with Ghanaian women who are alumnae of United States government programs that support local entrepreneurs, including the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) and the Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE), which is a key part of the White House’s Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative. I’d like to share with you just a couple of the inspiring stories I heard.
One alumna owns a fitness business with the goal of helping women lead healthy lifestyles. Through our AWE program, whose motto is “Women without Limits,” she increased her confidence in her entrepreneurial abilities. When COVID-19 hit, she developed a Zoom workout program that more than tripled her client base from 60 to 200, with online customers stretching across Africa and all the way to the United States.
Another participant realized that fashion was not going to be a priority during a global health crisis; so, she applied her skills to a more essential business. In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and partners in her rural hometown, she pivoted to grain production, meeting a demand for nutritious staples, generating revenue, and improving Ghana’s food security.
These and many similar examples of Ghanaian ingenuity give me confidence that we will overcome the challenges of COVID-19. I look forward to a better future in which we are partnering even more closely to achieve our shared goals of expanding two-way trade and investment, recovering from this pandemic, and bolstering Ghana’s already vibrant entrepreneurial spirit. With your leadership, dedication, and collaboration, I know we can succeed.
Congratulations once again to the Entrepreneurs Foundation on ten years of building Ghanaian businesses! And congratulations to all of tonight’s nominees and, of course, to all the winners. Your achievements are something special for us to celebrate tonight.