Esther Afua Ocloo
image source

It is wonderful what strength of purpose with vigor and perseverance can achieve as there is no fate that can hinder the firm resolve of a determined mind as proven by Esther Afua Ocloo. She was an enterpriser from Ghana who started a small juice venture and expanded it to a huge manufacturing industry that comprised of tie and dye textile trading, food canning institute, among many things. She was a woman with a heart of gold, driven by a burning desire to lift many women out of penury. For an overview and facts about the renowned enterpriser, read on.

Esther Afua Ocloo’s Biography

The renowned enterpriser was born as Esther Afua Nkulenu on 18th of April 1919 in Peki Dzake, British Togoland, Ghana. Her father, George Nkulenu was a metalworker while her mother, Georgina was into farming and pottery. She was born into penury and her parents couldn’t afford to send her to school as it took the benevolent intervention of her grandmother for her to attend Presbyterian Primary School, Peki Blengo. Her extraordinary academic performance earned her a Cadbury full sponsorship into the prestigious Achimota School in 1936 where she completed her basic education. She later graduated in 1941 with the Cambridge School Certificate.

Being a business-minded person, Esther Afua Ocloo set up an orange juice marmalade business in the Gold Coast, making her the only one to achieve such feat in the coast. Her product was so good that she got offers from the army and Achimota School to be accoutring them her product. After several years of nurturing her business, the award-winning enterpriser got sponsorship from Achimota school in 1949 to further her education in England.

She graduated in 1951 from Good Housekeeping Institute, London with a cooking diploma thereby becoming the inaugural African to attend the institution. She followed it up by enrolling for a Masters degree in Food Preservation at Bristol University in 1956. Immediately after the completion of her studies, Ocloo headed back to Ghana and put her knowledge into use by teaching what she learnt to many women through seminars. The quick-witted businesswoman established the manufacturers association and put up its inaugural Made-in-Ghana goods exposition in 1958.

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Esther Afua Ocloo’s Family

Upon her return to Ghana after the completion of her studies in the United Kingdom, Esther Afua Ocloo exchanged marital vows with Stephen Ocloo. The marriage was blessed with four children, made up of a daughter, Vincentia Canacco and three sons, Christian Biassey, Vincent Malm and Stephen Ocloo Jr.

Facts About the Ghanaian Entreprenuer

1. Esther Afua Ocloo was an Advocate of Women Empowerment

With great moxie, Ocloo established a  microfinance institution named Women’s World Banking in 1979 together with a New York investment banker, Michaela Walsh and founder of a cooperative financial institution for uneducated Indian women, Ela Bhatt with the sole aim of lending credit facilities to low-income women to establish businesses in order to provide food for their families and attain financial independence. In addition to that, Ocloo established farms mainly for the purpose of teaching women agricultural cultivation.

2. She Attained Prestigious Positions

Esther Afua Ocloo attained many positions both at national and international level in the area of women economic empowerment. From 1959-1961, she served as the first president of the Federation of Ghana Industries and later became the first woman to be made the Executive Chairman of the National Food and Nutrition Board of Ghana in 1964. She further became an advisor to the Council of Women and Development from 1976-1986, an advisor to the First World Conference on Women in Mexico in 1975, First Chairman of the Board of Directors of Women’s World Banking from 1979-1985 and many other positions.

3. Awards and Accomplishments

Esther Afua Ocloo
Esther Afua Ocloo honored with Volta Heroes Award image source

The intelligent enterpriser earned numerous awards for her immense contribution in the field of women empowerment nationally and internationally which includes The First Woman Laureate of the Gottlieb Duttweiler Prize, Switzerland, Google Doodle, among many others.

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4. Her Religious Participations

The esteemed business mogul was a pioneer fellow of many religious groups including Unity Group of Practical Christianity, Ghana together with Unity Worldwide Ministries and Evangelical Presbyterian (E.P.) Church in Medina. She also helped in establishing an E.P. church women’s group called Bible Class that studies Bible and home management.

5. Her Death

Tragically, Esther Afua Ocloo succumbed to pneumonia on 8th of February, 2002 and was honored with a befitting funeral by the State in Accra before she was laid to rest at her hometown.

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