Ocoloo’s life was dedicated to advocating for access to small loans to low-income women, Born in 1919, Esther Afua Nkulenu, a successful business woman attributed her success to a loan she secured for her marmalade business in the early twentieth century.
According to a Google press release, Ocloo had just six shillings in the bank, the equivalent of a dollar, when she sold her first jar of marmalade as a teen during the 1930s.
Esther Afua Ocloo 1919-2002
“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,” the release said. “It took persistence and a supply contract to secure the money to start her company, Nkulenu Industries.”
Nkulenu Industries, established in 1942 with just six of the ten shillings Ocloo’s aunt gave her, that was the birth of a leading company in Ghana’s food processing industry. Its products are distributed in Nigeria, England and the United States and now includes drinks and other staple foods like the dumpling dish kenkey.
She was the first person to start a formal food-processing business in Ghana and later became the first Black person to earn a cooking diploma from London’s Good Housekeeping Institute.
Known as Auntie Ocloo, her industry success led her to the UK’s Bristol University, where she learned the latest food-industry methods. Ocloo used that knowledge to help other Ghanaian women succeed and went on to establish global non-profit Women’s World Banking in 1979, where she also served as chairman of the board of directors.
“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.”
Ocloo died of pneumonia in 2002 at age 82, her good works in the promotion of development in Ghana cannot be measured,” former Ghanaian president John Agyekum Kufuor said at Ocloo’s state burial.