Mr Araki Yasumichi speaking at the conference
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) have organised the Kaizen Conference for Women in Accra aimed at improving workplace activities.
It was on the theme: “Kaizen as a tool for women’s economic empowerment”.
The conference projected the importance of adopting Kaizen for female-owned businesses as a friendly tool for economic empowerment as well as introduce young female entrepreneurs and start-ups to the model.
Kaizen is a system of practical methods and mindset orientation to improve productivity and product and service quality, reduce waste, improve profitability and help manage time, through bottom-up continuous improvement activities at the workplace. It is usually simplified as KAI-ZEN: “Change for the better”.
JICA recognises the significance of sharing the Japanese knowledge of KAIZEN with African female entrepreneurs through the conference as well as other activities.
According to the Executive Director of NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey Ayeh: “NBSSI identifies KAIZEN as one of its key business development tools that has enhanced women-owned businesses in the five regions of Ghana where it has been implemented. Accelerator tools such as KAIZEN Model can increase productivity and profit as well as reduce costs.”
She said currently, KAIZEN-related services could be accessed in the Business Advisory Centres (BACs) in the regions, adding, “Although females dominate the MSME sector, female entrepreneurship still remains at the micro and small-scale level due to reasons including inadequate mentorship and practicable training programmes among others,” she said the aforementioned issues were being addressed to create an enabling environment for women entrepreneurship to thrive in Ghana.
The JICA Ghana Office recognises the significant role of women entrepreneurs in national development and the importance of women empowerment and economic opportunities for women under the National Gender Policy Commitments 1 and 4 respectively.
A message by the Chief Representative of JICA, Mr Araki Yasumichi, indicated the success of the National Kaizen Project which was implemented in 2015-2018.
He mentioned that an estimated 40 per cent of beneficiaries were women-owned enterprises.
The project resulted in a significant impact on the entire livelihood of women entrepreneurs as compared to male entrepreneurs.
“We are delighted that the Kaizen Project is helping in empowering women economically as they impact their families and society at large.”
He said woman could play an important role as advocates and ambassadors for Kaizen adoption to empower many more women in Ghana.
His belief was that the conference was the start of raising awareness of the contribution of Kaizen in the development of women in Ghana’s economy.
World Bank report
A World Bank Report on “Eliminating Gender Disparities in Business Performance in Africa” revealed that while women entrepreneurs are a vital and vibrant source of economic growth across Sub-Saharan Africa, analysis shows that women-owned businesses consistently perform worse than businesses owned by men due to gender-specific limitations. Generally, fewer women than men get the opportunity to learn and adopt business practices associated with their company’s growth and profitability.
The conference thus highlighted the success stories of women entrepreneurs applying Kaizen principles in their business, and provided opportunity to develop a database of potential women entrepreneurs interested in Kaizen for future collaboration, mentorship and networking and to promote Kaizen amongst various government, educational and private sector stakeholders.
Mr Yasumichi gave an assurance that JICA remained committed to supporting the Ghanaian government in other sectors including infrastructure, agriculture, education, private sector development and civil service training.