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12.04.2006 Diaspora News

Ambssador Poku’s Address At A Fund Raising Reception

By Embassy of Ghana in Washington D.C

The Embassy of Ghana in Washington D.C in partnership with Women In Progress (WIP), a nongovernmental organization in the United States at the weekend held a fund raising reception in support of women entrepreneurs in Cape Coast in the central region to improve their lives by assisting them launch and expand their micro businesses.

Addressing a gathering of about 350 people at the Embassy Chancery, Ghana's envoy to the U.S, Ambassador Fritz Kwabena Poku made the following remarks.

“I am delighted to welcome all of you to this Embassy and to this evening's event. This is a fund-raising reception organized by theWomen In Progress (WIP) in collaboration with the Embassy of Ghana. However, I wish right from the outset, to congratulate young Emilie Kimball, whose exploits in conceiving the idea of this fund-raiser, sound like a fairy tale and seem to me to be quite overpowering.

It all started when Ms. Emilie Kimball, 15 years at the time, visited Ghana as a Volunteer with the Women In Progress (WIP). After immersing herself in the life and culture of some poor women in Cape Coast, she returned to the United States fired up and inspired to do something to help the women she had come into contact with. She subsequently contacted this Embassy to share her experiences and then proposed a fund-raiser which is materializing this evening. She had even, earlier on, taken the imitative to collect some used laptop computers and sent them to the women to assist them in expanding their businesses and market.

At a time when children and other young people are assailed and bombarded by all sorts of attractions and distractions, inducing some of them to spent about 60hours a week on what they describe as “multitasking” i.e. watching television, playing computer games and sending and receiving e-mails, it sounds incredible that a 15year old girl, now 16, should be so inspired to wish to make a difference in the lives of not children, but adult women that she had come to appreciate and love in Ghana. Young Emilie, you are my hero this evening and I wish to commend you highly for being a child of a kind. I join your parents in expressing great pride in having a wonderful child like you. It is my earnest hope that other young people will take a cue from you.

But if Emilie is in the process of realizing her dream, it is all thanks to the opportunity and guidance offered her by Ms. Cathy Sheehan and Mr. Philip Kimball who introduced her to the Women In Progress, a non-governmental Organization devoted to empowering women. The Women In Progress was co-founded in 2002 by Renae Adam and Catherina Johnson. This organization has since then taken up the challenged to extend help and assistance to women engaged in various types of micro-businesses in Ghana and other countries. They have indeed taken the improvement of the lives of women traders to a higher level by affording them the opportunity to advertise their products and trade them on the internet. This has had the effect of exposing the otherwise unknown products from women entrepreneurs in Ghana to the international market and, thereby expanding their clientele and raising the level of their profits.

The Embassy of Ghana is very much pleased and gratified to be part of this evening's fund-raiser which aims at raising more funds to assist women in Ghana a the grass root level. This will further alleviate their poverty by engaging them in sustainable small and micro-businesses. Indeed, through the coordinated efforts of Emilie, the Women In Progress and the Embassy of Ghana organizing this evening's event, we see clearly the necessary partnership and inter-play of policy, voluntarism, individual responsibility and entrepreneurship, to achieve a social good. The power of this inter-play and partnership can serve as a great agent of change by bringing about quick and high impact projects that we have seen in the activities of Emilie and Women In Progress. It also serves as a bridge to facilitate the connection of donors to shared goals.

The Ghana government itself through several interventions has been working very hard to improve the living conditions of women tint he country. This objective informed the establishment of a special Ministry viz. Ministry of women and Children's Affairs in the year 2001 to address the needs and concerns of women and children. The government of Ghana additionally has appointed a Minister for Girl-Child Education. All these measures have increased the enrolment of girls to the extent that it is now equal to the enrolment of boys in our school system. The government has, by these measures, demonstrated its determination, in no uncertain terms; to not only improve the lot of women, but also to empower them to participate fully in the political and economic activities of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I believe that all of us gathered here this evening should be inspired by the activities of Emilie and W.I.P I am informed that even before this fund raiser got underway, Emilie had through her networking with WIP, raised $10,000. We should therefore all be well disposed and encouraged to lend a helping hand to enable them continue their noble efforts in assisting the “Big Mamas”, as the grass root women traders are called. Let us demonstrate this by generously making a donation either in cash or in kind to assist Emilie and the Women In Progress in meeting the urgent needs of the deprived and vulnerable Women Groups in Ghana.

I can assure you that in lending your support to their programmes, you are not only responding to a simple call by a small dedicated and determined organization like the Women In Progress and its related individuals. But you are indeed adding a vital block to the construction of a viable society in which women are given the Where-with-all to play their part as mothers and providers for families, which are the very basis of all societies. I wish once again to express my pleasure in being part of this evening's fund raiser and to thank all invited guests in advance for their invaluable contributions and assistance which, no doubt will bring a positive change in the lives of many women in Ghana.

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