Library Weekly

The ASCL's Library Weekly is our library’s weekly spotlight on African people and events. Inspired by the SciHiBlog, this service is based on information retrieved from Wikipedia and Wikidata and is completed with selected titles from the ASCL Library Catalogue. 

N.B. The weeklies are not updated and reflect the state of information at a given point in time.

Library Weekly archive

Esther Afua Ocloo

Esther Ocloo (Source:

On  8 February 2002, Ghanaian businesswoman and micro-credit pioneer, Esther Afua Ocloo (born Esther Afua Nkulenu) died in Accra at the age of 82. She received the 1990 African Prize for Leadership and numerous other awards honouring her work for the economic empowerment of women and families. 
Ocloo was born at Peki-Dzake, a town located in the Volta Region of Ghana, on 18 April 1919. She won a scholarship to attend the prestigious Achimota School, from which she graduated with a Cambridge School Certificate.
In 1943, Ocloo, using a small financial gift from her aunt and skills acquired at Achimota, began selling marmalade in Accra. Deciding to pursue further work in the food industry, she secured a contract from Achimota to supply the school with orange juice made from oranges grown on its campus. She then won an additional contract to provide the Royal West African Frontier Force with juice. Lacking the resources on her own to fulfill the obligations, she took out a loan from a bank and established Nkulenu Industries, the first food processing factory in the Gold Coast.
After getting her business established, she was sponsored by Achimota College to visit and study in England in order to improve her knowledge in the area of food preservation. To overcome prejudice in Ghana against locally produced goods, she formed a manufacturers' association and helped organise the first "Made-in-Ghana" goods exhibition in 1958. Encouraged by President Kwame Nkrumah, she was elected as the first President of what became the Federation of Ghana Industries.
From the 1970s onwards Ocloo worked at a national and international level for the economic empowerment of women. She was appointed as an adviser to the Council of Women and Development from 1976 to 1986, a member of Ghana's national Economic Advisory Committee from 1978 to 1979, and a member of the Council of State in the Third Republic of Ghana from 1979 to 1981. Ocloo promoted the availability of credit to women, of small loans known as micro-credit, to stimulate their ability to found businesses. She was a founding member and the first chairperson of the Board of Directors of Women's World Banking, a nonprofit organisation that provides strategic support, technical assistance and information to a global network of independent microfinance institutions.

(Source: Wikipedia, accessed on 6 February 2024)

Selected publications

jam and palm soup produced by Nkulenu Industries (Source: Esther Ocloo (Source:

About/by Esther Ocloo

Esther Afua Ocloo. 
Esther Afua Ocloo.
About Ghanaian women entrepreneurs and microfinance
In: Journal of African business, 2017, Vol.18 (4), p.457-475
In: Entrepreneurship in Africa, 2017, pages 323-343
In: Ghana journal of development studies, 2011, vol. 8, no. 1, p. 72-89 : graf., tab
In: Development in practice, 2009, vol.19 (2), p.200-213

Timeline of 20th-century Ghanaian businesspeople via Wikidata and DBpedia