Winning trust of a community and starting a flower farm in Ghana’s jungle was no easy feat for Sefa Gohoho-Boatin. But by doing so, and overcoming infrastructure challenges, she helped the women of an underprivileged part of the country to become masters of their land – and their pockets.
“It’s almost like going on an adventure, going into the deep dark jungle. Every year, when it rains, we have to rebuild the road,” Sefa Gohoho-Boatin says.
She holds on to the grab handle in order to avoid jumping in the seat as the car inches down the dirt road, battered from heavy rains, in rural Ghana. It’s a 15-minute drive from the main road to Eden ‘n’ Eve, her 10-acre flower farm.
It’s not just that battered roads can make the ride uncomfortable, they can also be a hindrance to the business, which depends on supplies such as fertilizer coming in and the annual orchid and heliconia harvest, amounting to 125 tonnes, being moved to the market in Holland, Dubai and Nigeria.
They know that their lives can be transformed and therefore they’re more productive. And because they’re more productive, we’re able to export more and turn a bigger profit.
“We need to develop the infrastructure to get the produce to the port in time. Otherwise, we can't operate. APM Terminals are the masters of the value chain, and we have learned from them how efficiency can help you meet challenges,” says Sefa Gohoho-Boatin, who calls herself a social entrepreneur.
Winning the trust
The daughter of a diplomat, Sefa Gohoho-Boatin was born into an international life. Growing up, she lived in a number of African countries and she has a degree from London School of Economics. However, her love for Ghana never faded and she remains committed to the country’s development.
Thus, undeterred by the occasional bump on the road, Sefa Gohoho-Boatin regularly makes the 150 km trip from Accra to support the women she employs at the flower farm. Located in an underprivileged part of the country, the project had a social element from the very start in 2010.
“The project employs only women of the community. We try to help them to develop their standards of living by economically enhancing them. That is ultimately the dream for this project, to improve the lives of the women of this community by selling an alternative forest product, which is cut flowers.”
In order to succeed, Sefa Gohoho-Boatin had to win the trust of the community. She convinced the women – and their husbands – by making them co-owners and the potential profits, which in turn made them even more committed to the project.
“They know that their lives can be transformed and therefore they’re more productive. And because they’re more productive, we’re able to export more and turn a bigger profit. This makes it possible to increase employment and for them to become masters of their land and hopefully their pockets too.”
A port for the future
In Accra, APM Terminals has operated the Tema port together with its partner, Bolloré Africa Logistics, for the past 10 years. It handles 70% of Ghana’s trade. APM Terminals and partners are also building a new port on an undeveloped beach adjacent to the existing one. With a price tag of roughly USD 1.5 billion, the modern multi-purpose facility will future-proof the country’s needs, from commodities to containers.
The project employs 5,000 people directly, but the real benefits will only begin to kick in when the first phase of the port is completed in 2019. More capacity, modern equipment and deep water access for larger ships will lower the overall costs of trade and transport and also help boost trade in general.
According to estimates, more trade will increase the revenues of Ghana’s import and export companies, which will lead to as much as a USD 1.1 billion rise in Gross Value Added to the Ghanaian economy and as many as 450,000 new jobs. In other words, a set-up in the spirit of how Sefa Gohoho-Boatin runs the Eden ‘n’ Eve flower farm:
“I want to be that person who sets someone up and enables them to reach their full potential. To me, the purpose and profit have perfect synergy. There’s no reason to be exploitative and you can turn a much larger profit if you genuinely include the people you work with.”