Meet Nora Bannerman: The Woman Producing PPEs In Ghana

Nora Bannerman

Ghana has been blessed with an indefinite list of amazing women who at the dark turns of the country’s history, step up and show the way out.

With Ghana being a country heavily dependent on imports and as those countries we depend on are also fighting their own battle with coronavirus, exported help is limited.

In many ways, we were at their mercy to take delivery of what they will be willing to spare us.

However, as coronavirus continuous to spread in the country, our frontline healthcare workers are in dire need of personal protective equipment such as faces masks, medical scrubs and others.

These are the basic tools they need to be armed with so that they can fight this virus.

It, therefore, became necessary that we have to produce these PPEs locally and we have to produce as many as we can as quickly as we can.

That is where the ingenuity of Nora Bannerman and three other factories came to play.

Like the other three factories, Nora Bannerman’s garment making factory repurposed its factory to start producing these PPEs.

Nora is the founder and CEO of Sleek Garments Export Ltd (SGEL) and the Managing Director of the Africa Sleek Institute of Creativity & Technology (ASICT).

Nora Bannerman

She has been running SGEL for more than 40 years.

It all started when she decided to use her mother’s sewing machine to design clothes.

Now she has turned her passion into a flourishing garments enterprise with over 300 sewing machines, according to Graphic.com.gh.

Below is an extract from a profile of Nora Bannerman that was created by Graphic.com.gh when she was named in the Top 20 Global Female Business Leaders by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC).

Some 40 years ago, Fashion Designer Nora Bannerman decided to turn her God-given talent and lifelong passion, fashion design, into a thriving enterprise.

Starting with her mother’s domestic sewing machine, she is now the owner of over 300-machine factory, Sleek Garments Export Limited, which she runs with her daughter, Natasha.

Over the years she has designed and styled for First Ladies of Africa, including Mrs Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings of Ghana, Mrs Murtala Mohammed of Nigeria, the late Mrs Winnie Mandela of South Africa and Mrs Grace Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

With sponsorship from the EU office in Ghana and Europe, she showcased the Nora Bannerman Collection on Fashion Runways and Trade Shows in Paris, Dusseldorf and went on to participate in fashion shows in cities in Europe and in the USA.

In 1979, Ms Bannerman established a Skills Development Training Institution, Sleek Fashion Institute, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), giving skills to the youth, especially young women.

This organisation is now known as the “Nora Bannerman Foundation” that seeks to develop the skills of disadvantaged young women doing menial jobs such as porters/kayayei for daily sustenance.

Her passion is to direct and promote every activity that can empower the young ladies for employment to help grow Ghana’s Textile and Apparel Industry as well as build their capacity to establish dignified sustainable business ventures for a better future.

Nora Bannerman

At the Sleek Garments Export Limited factory 90 per cent of its employees are young women.

The production capacity of her factory is between 4,000 and 10,000 per day depending on the products which include storage bags.

Under Ms Bannerman leadership, Sleek Garments Export Limited has worked in partnership with Institutions such as the World Bank to develop the skills of hundreds of youth for employment in the Garments Industry in Ghana.

Under the President’s Special Initiative (PSI) programme that enables Ghana to take advantage of AGOA, Nora’s was the first company to be invited to participate in this initiative because the track record of her company, Sleek Fashion Limited, in exporting 10,000 of her designs, in Made-in-Ghana batik fabric to the US as early as 1994, for sale in Pier 1 Imports.

On July 30, 2019 Miss Bannerman was one of four women from Sub-Saharan Africa to be named among the top twenty Global Female Business Leaders by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), and Ms Bannerman, with her fellow honourees, is featured in the “Trailblazers Book” by the IFC, as one of the Top 20 Global Female Trailblazers.

She is currently a member of the Professional & Humanitarian Association, a member of the Governing Board of Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Executive Member and Chairperson of the Association of Ghana Industries(AGI) and a member of the Technical Committee of the AGI Industry and Quality Awards Technical Committee.

Ms Bannerman was past President of the Ghana Apparel Manufacturers Association, chairperson of the Garments and Textile Sector, AGI (2012-2014) and past Vice- President of the SPINNET Cluster, during her term she worked with a garment consultant to develop a business plan for the group which led to UNIDO sponsoring a Garments Manufacturing Training Facility at the Accra Technical Training College/Centre (ATTC).

Nora Bannerman

In 2007, her company was named one of AGOA’s success stories. Proudly she was a member of the National AGOA Committee that worked on earning Ghana the AGOA Visa to export over 6,000 products duty and Quota free.

She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Africa Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) and Director of Kinder Paradise, an establishment for needy and disadvantaged children in Prampram. She was the Director of the Rotary Club of Accra-North( 2013-2014) and a member of the Advisory Board of the AGI.

Awards and recognitions

Ms Bannerman has consistently been recognised for her role as the last word in the dressing up of contestants for beauty pageants and remains an inspiration to Ghanaian designers in the fashion industry.

In 2016, she was presented with the Life Time Achievement Award for her work as a designer, an entrepreneur and role model and mentor to the youth and Ghanaian designers.

She has featured on many major radio and television networks in Ghana, Europe and the United States of America.

Educational Background

She is a product of Accra Technical University, where she studied Business Management, Accounting, General Principles of the English Law and the Illinois State University where she studied Modern Textile Management and Business Skills.

Source: Kuulpeeps.com||Graphic

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