April 18, 2017
Esther Afua Ocloo’s 98th Birthday
As both an entrepreneur and an advocate for microlending, “Auntie Ocloo” worked tirelessly to help others like her succeed. Esther Afua Ocloo had only six shillings to her name — less than a dollar — when she made and then sold her first jar of marmalade as a teenager in the 1930s.
Esther was determined to expand her livelihood of making marmalade and orange juice, but she needed a loan to increase production, and credit was hard to come by for women with little economic resources. It took persistence and a supply contract to secure the money to start her company, Nkulenu Industries.
After traveling to England to learn the latest techniques in food processing, Esther returned home and shared those skills with other Ghanaian women. Perhaps more importantly, she taught them everything she knew about starting and running a business, which put more money in their pockets. She made such an impact that in 1975 she was invited to the first U.N. World Conference on Women.
Esther and other advisors knew that lending money to women could have a ripple effect, improving the prosperity and health of the women as well as their communities. But because they lacked collateral, low-income women were often ignored by banks. So in 1979, Esther helped found and became Chairman of the Board of Directors of Women’s World Banking, which provides millions of low-income women with the small loans needed to reach their financial goals.
On what would have been her 98th birthday, today’s Doodle shows Esther empowering the women of Ghana with the tools to improve their lives and communities.