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NAVIGATING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: THE EXPERIENCES OF FEMALE-LED MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM ENTERPRISES IN GHANA
Female-led businesses represent the majority share of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Ghana and operate mainly in the informal sector. Informality is a key characteristic of the Ghanaian economy in general and is significant in areas such as manufacturing, agriculture/agribusiness and services (Mastercard Index for Women Entrepreneurs, 2020). Despite women’s contribution to business and economic growth in Ghana, their businesses face a myriad of challenges, including limited access to financing resources, information asymmetry, lack of technical and managerial skills, and exclusion from business incentives from state and private sources (Dzansi et al., 2021; Baah Boateng et al., 2013; Junior & Senior, 2020); Boohene, Sheridan and Kotey, 2008). The Covid-19 pandemic has further worsened the fortunes of female-led MSMEs due to women’s overwhelming exposure to greatly impacted sectors—manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, accommodation, food services and petty trading of various kinds.
The introduction of lockdowns, social-distancing protocols and travel/ movement restrictions grounded several businesses and collapsed many others. With the decline in demand for goods and services, female business owners in the informal sector, who are more likely to be excluded from relief support from the state, are more exposed to the economic shocks, which increases their vulnerability and affects their living conditions (Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, 2020; African Development Bank, 2020). This study sought to understand the coping mechanisms, survival strategies, access to support and resilience of female-led micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in Ghana.