SEED Celebrates a Female-Led Enterprise on International Women’s Day
As we celebrate the achievements of women today, we present the female-led Unique Quality Product Enterprise as part of our launch of the SEED Case Study Series 2018. The new case study series that emanated from the SWITCH Africa Green project "Promoting Eco-Entrepreneurship in Africa", implemented by SEED, showcases how innovative eco-inclusive start-up enterprises in Africa shape sustainable development on the ground.
Empowering marginalised women through the revival of indigenous crops
In northern Ghana, 88% of households are dependent on crop agriculture as their primary source of livelihood. Traditional gender roles are persistent nationally and women continue to be dependent on men economically, including for access to property rights, which are typically passed on from father to son.
“People said it was impossible, that there is no way to get land for women to produce [crops],” Salma Abdulai laments. Without a doubt, these women have proven them wrong. Against all odds, Salma founded Unique Quality Product Enterprise and works with marginalised women and farmers in rural areas to revive the farming of fonio, an indigenous crop, for production and supply for the market.
Fonio is a nutritious indigenous crop that grows well on unfertilised marginal land. Unfortunately, it was largely neglected with the introduction of new grains, such as rice, into Ghana. Salma’s community is one of the few who still cultivates the native crop that carries deep cultural and traditional significance.
The enterprise challenges traditional gender roles, as the local women are trained to produce high-quality fonio and how to reinvest their profits to pay school fees and feed their children more nutritiously. The women are also now empowered to acquire land rights for cultivation.
The business grows 15,000kg of fonio each week and has worked with more than 600 women in the value chain, generating an additional income of USD 1,200 per farmer. Besides empowering the women workforce, the enterprise avoids using chemical fertilisers and turns waste into organic compost that is later used on degraded land, leading to soil rehabilitation in the northern region of Ghana.
What’s next? Salma says they want to improve and grow the business. “We want to make sure the chain works well, we want to diversify our products, increase the number of farmers and women in the value chain.”
Unique Quality Product Enterprise is a winner of the SAG-SEED Awards in 2016. SEED award winners receive a package of tailored support services consisting of capacity building, tools, profiling, network building and financing up to USD 5,000 to develop their business.
Download Salma’s Unique Quality Product Enterprise case study here.
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