9 Things You Didn’t Know About Esther Afua Ocloo

Meet Ghana’s inspiring businesswoman Esther Afua Ocloo celebrated by Google on her 98th birthday.

Who is Esther Afua Ocloo? If you opened Google 2 days ago you would have found yourself with the image below.


Why would Google normally change the normal Homepage we’re used to? The definition on their site says that a Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepage that is intended to celebrate holidays, events, achievements and people.”

A very interesting personality is the subject of the doodle in the United States; Ghana; Peru; Argentina, Iceland; Portugal; Sweden; Australia; Greece; New Zealand; Ireland and the UK. Esther Afua Ocloo was an entrepreneur and African pioneer for microlending. She was celebrated for what would have been her 98th birthday and for her service in empowering women in Ghana.

Here are 9 facts you didn’t know about Esther Afua Ocloo:

  1. Born Esther Afua Nkulenu on 18 April 1919. Esther Afua Ocloo was a Ghanaian entrepreneur and pioneer of microlending, a program of making small loans in order to stimulate businesses
  2. She founded Nkulenu Industries in 1942. Esther Afua Ocloo began her journey in business in 1930s as a teenager selling juice and marmalade with less than a dollar. She grew the company into a global inspiration.

  3. Ms Ocloo was a pioneer for women’s rights. “Women must know that the strongest power in the world is economic power,” she said in a speech in 1990. “You cannot go and be begging to your husband for every little thing, but at the moment, that’s what the majority of our women do.”
  4. She was a microlending pioneer. In addition to her business, she taught skills to other women and co-founded Women’s World Banking (WWB) in 1976. The global micro-lending organisation was started with Michaela Walsh and Ela Bhatt. The organisation has since helped 16,4 million women around the world, managing a loans portfolio of over $9bn. Many women have started and run businesses thanks to the organisation which is helping boost prosperity in countless communities.
  5. She was known as Aunty Ocloo
  6. In 1975, Ms Ocloo was invited to the first UN World Conference on Women. In 1990, she became the first woman to receive the Africa Prize for Leadership.
  7. Nkulenu Industries still exists and produces orange marmalade today and exports indigenous food items to markets abroad.
  8. Ocloo took a course on Food Science and Modern Processing Techniques at Bristol University, England. She began to develop recipes for commercial food canning during her trip in the UK. Most noteworthy, she was also the first black person to obtain a cooking diploma from the Good Housekeeping Institute in London.
  9. Ms Ocloo passed away due to pneumonia in 2002 aged 82. Former president John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor described her at her state burial: “She was a creator and we need many people of her calibre to build our nation”.


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