Financial Institution Resilience & STrengthening


Catalyzing systemic change to create jobs through small business growth powered by access to finance

A partnership with the Bank of Ghana, Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), and the Mastercard Foundation.

Recent Program Updates

Leticia Attobrah stands with her employees on the sidewalk outside of her restaurant.
Leticia Attobrah, 35, third from left, operates a restaurant with her employees in a semi-open structure in the heart of Bogoso, a mining town in the Prestea-Huni Valley district of the Western Region of Ghana. “I had always wished I had a bigger restaurant where customers could order their food, sit, eat and drink. Today, that dream is a reality. I also employ six young women who might have been a burden on the community if they didn’t have this job.”

Through FIRST+, CapPlus applies a​n​ ecosystem development approach ​to address the underlying challenges ​that ​inhibit financial institutions’ lending to small businesses, partnering with them to change mindsets, implement proven methodologies and practices, and tailor financial services for women and youth with a focus on the agricultural sector.

CapPlus employs change management principles while bringing best-in-class expertise and systems to profitably increase lending to underserved small businesses, the largest creators of jobs in Ghana.

Who First+ Benefits



Youth work in dignified and fulfilling jobs that prepare them for brighter futures while earning enough to support themselves and their families today.

FIRST+ impact: 32,138 employed youth

As of 31 December 2022


Even though women own 37% of Ghana’s businesses, they face a disproportionate financing gap and their incomes are just 29.2% of men’s. FIRST+ equips financial institutions to deliver financial services — especially loans — tailored around women’s needs and constraints.

Financially empowered women entrepreneurs have greater agency and voice in their households and communities, creating ripples of impact in the lives of people around them.  With access to loans, women-owned businesses can become forces of innovation, job creation, economic growth, and community resilience. Increasing women’s economic independence is an important step towards achieving greater equality between women and men. 

FIRST+ impact: 51,514 women entrepreneurs and female workers

As of 31 December 2022
a woman
“When people in my community are discussing entrepreneurship and need ideas, I’m their first point of reference.”

Farida advises women to be courageous and step forward, addressing every issue with confidence and bravery. “I have met a lot of women who think they can take initiative only when they have a man by their side. Whenever I have the opportunity, I let them know that they can achieve anything they want on their own.”

— Farida Moro, valued and trusted for her business acumen
young man


Ghana’s small business sector accounts for 92% of all businesses, 80% of jobs, and contributed about 60% of Ghana’s GDP in 2022. Given that small businesses are the greatest source of employment in Ghana, increasing the number and size of Ghana’s small businesses is key to job creation.

FIRST+ impact: 78,170 entrepreneurs and workers

As of 31 December 2022


The impact of workers’ greater financial stability spills over to their communities as they support local businesses, churches, mosques, charities and community projects like building toilet facilities and classroom blocks or providing potable water. Women-owned businesses typically reinvest up to 90% of their income in the education, health and nutrition of their family and community.

a teacher
exterior of a bank building
“The CapPlus training and iCAM tool gave our credit officers the breadth of expertise they need to confidently expand lending while mitigating bad loans. They are taking what they’ve learned and using it. The improvement of our credit operation is reflected in the numbers – we’ve seen a steady increase in our portfolio size and the quality of our risk management.”  
— Daniel Mensah, Akuapem Rural Bank’s Credit Manager

Financial Institutions

Financial institution executives, managers and frontline workers receiving one-to-one technical assistance are implementing new systems, tools and practices, and deepening their skills so they are equipped to sustainably accelerate finance to small businesses. Institutional mindsets and policies are changing from avoiding small business finance to investing more resources to grow this important business line.

FIRST+ partner Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN) delivers group-based skills training on critically relevant topics to financial institutions in today’s economic climate, reinforcing the skills that FIRST+ delivers in the field.

FIRST+ impact:
619 financial institutions benefiting from FIRST+ training or one-to-one capacity building

1,664 financial institution employees participating in one or more FIRST+ training session

As of 31 December 2022

Why Small Businesses and Financial Institutions?

Small businesses dominate the Ghanaian economy and are the greatest source of jobs.  But small businesses are constrained from growing due to the lack of affordable finance to buy inventory, expand their facilities and grow their businesses. The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation estimates that Ghana’s small business financing gap was $4.99 billion in 2017.  

Equipping financial institutions to sustainably lend to small businesses has proven more effective in promoting business growth than supporting businesses directly due to financial institutions’ power of leverage, expertise, reach, and resources invested in local economies.

Gladys Fawks stands in the doorway of her business.
Gladys Fawks built her business out of the simple idea of helping women fishmongers reduce their losses by storing their leftover fish for them. She started with two small refrigerators, and now she and her partner own two cold stores. With CapPlus’ assistance, five financial institutions are implementing new gender finance strategies to increase lending to women.
Juliana Awuku shows how palm oil equipment operates to her banking team from Akuapem Rural Bank, one of several banks that receive CapPlus’ capacity building services to scale micro and small business finance as part of the FIRST+ program.

How Does FIRST+ Work?

Creating Change at the Systems Level

FIRST+ partners with organizations from top to bottom of Ghana’s financial sector to catalyze system-wide change that increases the amount and appropriateness of finance invested in small businesses to spur their growth and job creation.

Bank of Ghana which regulates Ghana’s entire financial sector — was actively engaged in designing FIRST+ and remains an active partner on governance issues and program implementation.

Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN), Ghana’s only umbrella network of 1,840 nonbank financial institutions, is an effective aggregator of knowledge and learning for the industry, providing cost-effective group-based training and peer learning to over 538 financial institutions and 1,243 of their staff over the first year of FIRST+.

ARB Apex Bank is another key industry stakeholder and aggregator that serves as a mini-central bank for 146 rural and community banks and their 8.8 million customers. In collaboration with ARB Apex Bank, CapPlus is developing systems and tools that will become available to its member banks.

Demonstrating new approaches in multiple financial institutions kickstarts replication and competition within the sector to the benefit of small businesses. With CapPlus’ assistance:

  • 5 financial institutions are implementing new gender finance strategies to increase lending to women
  • 3 are introducing new-to-the-market agriculture finance strategies and 6 others are deploying new agricultural loan products and underwriting tools
  • 3 are planning to launch student loan products
  • 2 are developing strategies to finance private healthcare providers

FIRST+ and the Sustainable Development Goals


No Poverty: Employment provides reliable incomes to workers, and growing small businesses hire more workers


Gender Equality: FIRST+ assists financial institution partners in tailoring financial services to women and increasing their access to finance


Decent Work and Economic Growth: FIRST+ catalyzes increased investments in Ghana’s small businesses, spurring their growth and creation of jobs that provide dignified work  


Partnerships: Partnerships are key to FIRST+ and its efforts to catalyze systemic change, including its partnerships with the Bank of Ghana, GHAMFIN, Mastercard Foundation, and numerous financial institutions and other local ecosystem actors committed to increasing the number and economic health of small businesses

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity. The FIRST+ program has an impact on many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which are an urgent call for action by all countries — developed and developing — in a global partnership.

Why CapPlus?

CapPlus equips financial institutions in emerging economies to deliver finance profitably for social impact, with a focus in Africa where we have assisted over 50 financial institutions in 13 countries. Expertise areas include:

  • Capital adequacy and investor readiness
  • Expanding MSME market share: the A to Z of MSME finance
  • Digital financial services
  • Innovative solutions to expand profitably to high impact sectors (women, youth, healthcare, edufinance, etc.)
  • Governance and risk management
  • Peer exchange and trainings

Established in 2004 in tandem with the ShoreCap I equity fund, CapPlus also partners with impact investment funds to provide technical assistance alongside their capital investments in financial institutions.

The result: sustainable solutions that generate economic opportunity, job creation, asset building for social enterprises and women-owned businesses, and poverty alleviation.


MSME loans made by financial institution clients


disbursed to MSMEs by financial institution clients


of clients increased lending to women


bankers trained in over 30 countries

Meet the FIRST+ Team

Supported by a high-impact lineup of experienced practitioners

Click here to read about each of their qualifications

Lynn Pikholz

CEO, CapitalPlus Exchange

Binyam Tadesse

FIRST+ Program Lead

Yaw Gyamfi

Executive Director, Ghana Microfinance Institutions Network (GHAMFIN)

Mawuena Kofi Abba

MSME Finance Trainer; Agriculture Finance Consultant

Samuel Ackun


Benjamin Ofosu Agyemang

Investment Readiness Consultant

Augustine Akowuah

MSME Finance Consultant

Sarita Arora

Technical Assistance Manager, Digital and MSME Finance

Paa Kwesi Awuku-Darko

Agricultural Finance Consultant

Edmund Benjamin-Addy

Head of Operations/M&E Manager, GHAMFIN

Zibrim Biosama

MSME Finance Consultant

Howard Brady

Financial Inclusion and Data Management Consultant

Sandra Boohemaa Danso

Accounts and Admin Officer, GHAMFIN

Christopher Englehardt

Agricultural Finance Team Lead

Craig Feinberg

MSME Finance Consultant

John Guzowski

Agricultural Finance Team Lead

Nathaniel Impraim

Training Coordinator, GHAMFIN

Ahmad Jazayeri

Agriculture Consultant

Mehedi Karoui

Gender Finance Consultant

Lionel Knight

Investment Readiness Consultant

Yves Anougbre Kouadio

Office Manager

Andrew Lake

Digital Financial Services Lead

Terry Lennon

Senior Sales and Marketing Consultant

Lorna Li

TVET and Student Loan Consultant

Maya Margie

Gender Finance Lead

Mary Miller

Technical Assistance Manager, MSME Finance

Gerry Monteiro

Senior Advisor, Investment Readiness

Fred Obosu

SME Finance Consultant

Catalina Olaya

TVET and Student Loan Consultant

Steve Orlesky

Senior MSME Finance Consultant

Eric Quao

Agricultural Finance Consultant

Lynn Railsback

Director, Industry Building and Impact

Neeraj Sharma

Education Finance Consultant

Alex Silva

TVET and Student Loan Team Lead

Stephen Strauss

Leasing Lead Consultant

Paula Storch Tjossem

Technical Assistance Manager, MSME Finance

Lucas Wellen

Senior Agricultural Finance Consultant

Barbara Zadina

Communications Consultant

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