October 16 is World Food Day, and we're celebrating enterprising farmers like Akwasi who are doing important work in agriculture! A gift of just $25 can provide training materials to five farmers for them to grow their farms and improve their incomes!
Many countries in Africa are being faced with a high unemployment rate and they are struggling to create jobs to help address this challenge. In Ghana, young people (15-24 years old) form a large chunk of the population and also constitute a greater percentage of the unemployed.
In an attempt to find a lasting solution, the government of Ghana introduced an initiative known as the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) in May 2018 with the goal of alleviating recent graduate unemployment and to solve social problems.
In 2019, Self-Help International received 12 NABCO members, and three of them - Shawn Agyemang, Raymond Acquah and Akwasi Osei - were assigned to the Agriculture and Entrepreneur Development Program (AED). A few months after joining Self-Help, two of the recent graduates, Shawn and Raymond, leveraged the experience they gained with AED to secure a job at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA).
Akwasi Osei was assigned to assist the first batch of the Graduate Entrepreneur Program (GEP) trainees with their projects as well as contribute to other activities at the training center.
Akwasi is 26 years old and holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Marketing from the Kumasi Technical University. He joined Self-Help in August 2019. Akwasi, with his marketing background, assisted the GEP cohort with marketing their products. His involvement with GEP and the training center stirred up his passion for agriculture, especially raising animals. This passion for agriculture grew considerably stronger as time went on as he continued to observe the successes of the graduate entrepreneurs.
“Usually, I am free after 2:00 PM, and this made me think of how I can use my idle time profitably,” Akwasi said. “After giving it deeper thought, I decided to start raising rabbits in my free time to earn extra money.”
Akwasi constructed the rabbit pen on his own and purchased three rabbits as a start-up for his business. In about three months, he had close to 20 rabbits. Akwasi had to sell his rabbits when he moved to a new house, but his new-found passion for agriculture did not diminish. After a series of meetings with his landlord to negotiate space for his business, the landlord finally agreed to let Akwasi raise animals on his property.
Starting a business is not easy no matter how big the idea is. Akwasi was fully aware of this and knew it wasn’t easy to bring his idea to life and make it successful. He knew he needed to start small and test the waters, which is why he began with just rabbits. Now, with the green light from his landlord, he constructed structures on his own and purchased his breeding stock to start his animal venture once again. Currently, Akwasi has three turkeys, 20 rabbits, two cattle, one sheep, and around 30 birds.
When Akwasi was asked about his plans after NABCO, with a smile on his face he said, “I would like to go into animal rearing on a large scale, and I hope to raise some funds and breeding stock from what I am currently doing.”
Enterprising and dedicated young people like Akwasi are changing the outlook on agriculture in Ghana and ensuring employment not only for themselves, but as his endeavor grows, perhaps for others as well.
One of Akwasi's pens.