The first homestay: we stay with two franchise holders, 99 km away from Accra
We meet with the family, farmers, stroll with the grand father around the village where farmers are busy drying cocoa and telling us it is harder because of the persistent rains (‘we have climate change as well’). For them learning more about IT is the main way to prosper and keep their role in the value chain. However, it is hard to invest in educating themselves as they don’t want to leave their work too long.
It's hard to trust that everything will go allright.
The second homestay: we stay with a proud award-winning farmer, another 50 km up north.
This lady has every reason to be proud. She expanded to 8 farms and has got all her children finishing school. One is even studying law and another one dreams of studying medicine abroad next year. Her son translates her words: 'We want to invest but can you please help us to find a place to study medicine?'
She is selling her cocoa beans to the franchise holder of this district, who has also expanded her business significantly in 5 years time (I get to see great examples!). How she did it? When we ask, she tell us it is all about being honest and the ability to trust.
I ask her if it is a coincidence that her team consist of only women...
'What do you think? We women help each other, we know we can trust each other!' she replies.
In the evening the regional manager, whom I have been working with during strategy sessions explaining Ecom’s Creating Rural Prosperity strategy and leadership sessions, made a detour of 2 hours to check if we were alright. He explains to my wife that I am like one of them, he feels safe to share everything. He used to do everything himself to make sure the work was done well. He did not trust others to do it. Now he has learned to delegate and build a team with trustworthy people.
Trusting others is a big issue.
Even here in our homestay; before we sleep we need to lock all the doors and put our bikes inside. The toilet however is 15 meters outside. How to deal with our biological needs? Our host gives us a small bucket. 'You will manage!'
The third homestay: brings us to a little town, another 60 km up north.
Our host is a franchise holder. He brings us to the warehouse where the beans are being dried extra and stored. We see 7 men working hard to earn a few bucks. Our host is a real entrepreneur, who is determined to grow.
‘I believe in God and I believe in myself. I know from experience that I can overcome any hardship’.
Trusting others is still a challenge though. He lost a lot of money last year due to a farmer running away, but he remains determined. I'm convinced he will grow.
He brings us to a purchasing clerk who has a meeting that same afternoon with a farmer association he set up 5 years ago. They have 150 members that support each other. Their motto? Ghana = Cocoa = Business! They consciously work on their own empowerment.
As the Ghanians would say: I am blessed to meet so many great people. To get their trust.
I am sure building trust here is key to prosperity, but it is a slow process.
One can work on it by starting with building trust in oneself (self awareness) and own teams.
We're curious to hear your thoughts too, so feel free to leave a comment! And if you want to follow our stories and findings, you can subscribe below. Please note that you will receive an email to confirm and be aware it might end up in your unwanted mailbox the first time.