Family finance and doorstep trading: social and economic wellbeing of elderly Ghanaian female traders

  • Nana Apt Social Administration Unit, University of Ghana
  • Joanne Koomson Social Administration Unit, University of Ghana
  • N. Williams Social Administration Unit, University of Ghana
  • Margaret Grieco Social Administration Unit, University of Ghana


Ghana's female traders frequently "gift" their working businesses to their daughters or other junior female relatives as a means of providing for their old age. This occupational gifting customarily ensures the ageing trader social and economic support in her later years as she is assured of an exchange of financial and other forms of assistance. However, the gifting of the working business to a daughter does not mean the end of the woman's trading career. As she grows older the trader scales down the level of her business activities and frequently ends up trading with little capital on the doorstep of her home. This career structure provides the ageing woman with a strong economic and social definition amongst her kin and facilitates her active integration into the household unit. Continued trading inhibits social marginalization. Fifty elderly women traders were interviewed about the practice of occupational gifting. A key finding was that although the practice is still widespread it is in decline. Alternative ways of ensuring the active integration of elderly women into the contemporary African urban household are considered.


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