Mushroom production to the rescue!

Veronica has a new mushroom business

Veronica and Gideon are married for more than two decades and have three teenaged children; 2 boys and a girl aged between 14 and 18 years old. Veronica has been a petty trader all these years while her husband worked with a mining firm. Ghanaian mine workers used to enjoy good slaries and it has been the dream of many Ghanaians to work with mining firms.

Globally, gold prices have witnessed continuous decline the past five years and it is having unberable consequences on many mine workers and their dependants in Ghana; some have lost working hours and others have become jobless. Gideon lost his job in 2013 and Veronical tells Self-Help the news about Gideon’s retrenchment hit the family like a tsunami. “For a moment I felt my world had caved in and I was completely lost,” she lamented.

She sells GHC 30 ($10) of mushrooms weekly

The job loss compelled the family to relocate to their home village, Obuasi, which resulted in the collapse of Veronica’s petty trading business. Feeding a family of five and paying for tuition for two high school students and one junior high student were challenging tasks. Veronica resorted to selling sachet water by the road side, earning up to five cedis ($1.66) on a good day. However, the worsening energy supply situation in Ghana and nation-wide rationing of power – 12 hrs with power, 24 hours without power- has posed a major setback to her sachet water business; her freezer breaks down quite frequently and the cost of repairs were draining her capital.

In December 2014, Veronica saw an ad by Self-Help International and quickly enrolled to acquire hands-on training in mushroom production which she completed in January 2015. Although the business is barely two months old, already she is managing 1,000 mushroom bags and makes a weekly sale of GHC 30 ($10). Just like many new products, their home grown mushroom is enjoying minimum but steady patronage from their community, a situation which encourages them to give their new business all their best.

Unlike the water business, this new venture has the potential to become a family business, creating employment for all family members. The market is being explored to solicit more customers, which will soon increase revenue to more than GHC 100 ($33) cedis weekly. Already, Veronica enjoys a lot of support from Gideon. Since she is virtually illiterate, he helps with records keeping and marketing. Veronica is receiving additional training in marketing at the Self-Help International Frances and Virginia Lagerschulte Young Adults Training Centre. With value addition through packaging, pricing and promotion her sales would increase bringing her enough revenue to feed herself and her family.