Fellow Since 1993
Association of Women in Development Experts
This profile was prepared when Lucia Quachey was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1993.
The New Idea
When successful business entrepreneur Lucia Quachey began to examine the small business support programs for rural women in Ghana, she was appalled. "The programs were foreign to rural women's culture and experience. They were often led by non-Ghanaians, typically men, and tended to be highly bureaucratic. These programs typically remove the women for a few days to Accra rather than working with them in their own environment. The programs also have often used materials inappropriate for illiterate women. They were, in effect, lectures at women, even when delivered in a one-to-one situation. It is no wonder that their results were uniformly poor."Challenged by this state of affairs, Lucia set about developing an appropriate local model based on her own experience as a female entrepreneur. Her approach is rooted in a mutual journey to discover what "we women already have." She tells villagers, "I don't have anything to give you. I'll show you what you have and what you can do." Lucia is quick to point out that this approach is different from how the conventional development agencies practice "participatory development." She says, "The development bureaucrats all talk about participatory methods, but they do not begin to practice them in Ghana. How can a project that is conceived in government or an aid bureaucracy allow for real participation when there is so little understanding and practice of what that is? Where are the examples? Who are the people who can lead such processes?"Lucia's answer to these questions is to turn to the women themselves, whose considerable business acumen is enhanced through role playing and "doing." In order to ensure that her own program is not bureaucratic and remains close to rural women's experience, the organization that Lucia set up to implement her method draws heavily on the volunteer participation of other successful women executives, identified through the Ghana Federation of Business and Professional Women, which Lucia co-founded and for which she has served as national president.