GrEEn project creates jobs in Ghana to reverse migration trend to Europe
Most people in Ghana make a living from agriculture. However, due to climate change and the depletion of natural resources, it is yielding less and less. Young people move to the city, but even there, finding work is difficult. Thousands of young men embark on a perilous journey to Europe every year in search of a better future. The SOS Children's Villages' GrEEn project creates opportunities in Ghana to help reverse this trend.
GrEEn stands for Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities. The project aims to address the causes of migration by creating green jobs and supporting sustainable and climate-resilient local economies in the Ashanti and Western regions. Shaibu Fuseini works at SOS Children’s Villages Ghana as coordinator of the GrEEn project. As a development professional, he has over a decade of experience in youth empowerment, agriculture, climate adaptation and poverty alleviation.
Encouraging green businesses
Youth unemployment is more acute than ever in Ghana, while agricultural yields steadily decline due to climate change. This makes the GrEEN Youth Employment Program relevant in helping to overcome these challenges. Shaibu believes,
"The participants learn to devise sustainable solutions to the effects of climate change in rural areas. At the same time, we create jobs by encouraging the development of green businesses. Both activities reinforce each other, which makes this project unique."
Developing life skills
SOS Children’s Villages Ghana maintains a strict selection process for new participants. Shaibu says, "We want to make sure they are really motivated." The program starts with basic life skills and personal development training. "We find it important that participants get to know themselves better as well as think critically and out of the box. They gain skills that will be useful throughout their lives, such as setting goals, dealing with conflict, negotiating, cooperating, and handling money. This increases their chances in the labour market."
Basic training is followed by a three-week boot camp on technical skills in sustainability and greening. "For example, it's about how to make organic fertilizers and pesticides. I learned a lot from that myself," Shaibu says. Finally, participants explore, under the guidance of experienced coaches, how they can contribute to greening within their communities.
"Our ultimate goal is for the participants to build self-confidence and self-esteem so that they dare to start their own green business or join a company." Initial results make him hopeful. "Since its launch in 2021, more than a thousand participants have successfully completed the training. With the help of our coaches, four green entrepreneurs have now received grants to expand their businesses. We see that local economies are indirectly boosted by our activities."
Green entrepreneur with growth ambition
When Shaibu Yahaya heard about SOS Children's Villages' GrEEn Youth Employment Program, he immediately decided to participate. The young entrepreneur from Ejura wants to contribute to a better environment. With his company Shaibu Natural Mosquito Repellent, he produces a mosquito spray based on herbs.
"Malaria is one of the leading causes of death in Ghana, but most insect repellents are also unhealthy because they contain harmful chemicals. That drove me to develop a remedy against malaria that is friendly to people and the environment."
Shaibu successfully completed the GrEEn training in December 2021.
"Because of what I learned, my self-confidence has grown, and I can communicate better with customers. That helps me present myself and my business to investors, which I hope will take my business to the next level."
Shaibu has learned to set realistic goals and keep accurate business records. He also has a better understanding of business operations and financial management.
Those skills will serve him well because Shaibu is ambitious. He wants to become the leading supplier of natural mosquito spray in his district. He now employs two people. His customers are primarily pharmacies, herbal stores, and cosmetics stores. "Actually, I see all 70,000 inhabitants of Ejura as my target market," he concludes enthusiastically.