Isaac Hopes to Curb Unemployment with His Business Idea

By Zakaria Adams – Training Center Manager

Isaac at the training center.

The unemployment rate for recent university graduates is a major developmental challenge in Ghana. Teaching methods in Ghana often focus on classroom lectures and presentations with limited practice opportunities. This causes a ripple effect that causes thousands of recent graduates with little or no practical skills to enter the job market unprepared every year.

Isaac was recruited into Self-Help International’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Program (GEP) in 2019. The GEP provides  recent graduates interested in starting their own agricultural business a one-year period to gain practical experience at Self-Help’s Agriculture Training Center. Isaac graduated from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with a specialization in Crop Science. He was born into a farming family in Enchi in the western region of Ghana, which is predominantly a cocoa farming area.

In the GEP, Isaac tested a business model for year-round hot pepper cultivation. Isaac, despite some challenges, was able to prove to Self-Help’s team and other farmers that pepper production is profitable because he was able to record a positive cash flow at the end of the project.

During his year with Self-Help, Isaac learned many things through implementing his hot pepper project. The Agricultural and Entrepreneurship Development team at Self-Help mentored him on the fine details of vegetable production. The team took Isaac through several processes on vegetable and food crop production. Together with other external support – the Center for No Till, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, etc. – Isaac learned about timing his crops, weed control, disease and pest management, and marketing strategies.

Isaac with his pepper project.

As part of the training at the center, graduates are taken through business proposal writing and methods of seeking external support for their business. Isaac’s proposal was convincing enough to attract an external investor in eastern Ghana. In 2020, Isaac moved to settle in Apadwa, where he has secured 3.5 acres of land to start his business. As of late 2020, he has onion and sweet pepper at the nursery stage to be transplanted.

In the final proposal Isaac shared with Self-Help International, he indicated expanding his business after the third cycle of production when he believes he will have saved enough money. Isaac believes there is a lack of development policies that target the youth in the country, but he feels positive about what Self-Help’s Graduate Entrepreneur Program is doing for young graduates to prepare them for life after university. He hopes he can honor his time in the GEP by creating employment opportunities for other young people in his business.