Benedicta is a Ghanian entrepreneur who was a lead farmer and sales agent in MEDA’s GROW project
Benedicta is a sales agent and serial entrepreneur.
“She’s one of those people who sees opportunities everywhere,” MEDA staffer Jennifer Denomy says.
Benedicta is a farmer who also aggregates other farmers’ production and sells it to larger-scale buyers. She trains other women on product quality and brokers access to tractor services. Most small-scale farmers in Ghana cannot afford to buy a tractor, so they need to rent one occasionally.
MEDA partner PRUDA introduced Benedicta to the sales agent concept and the importance of having an entrepreneurial spirit. They saw her as having great potential, and the right personality to excel at sales while benefiting other women in her community and beyond.
As a woman lead farmer, she received training in pre-harvest and pre-season farming activities, record-keeping, and negotiation skills. She and other sales agents were also introduced to other value chain actors across the country.
Her lead farmer instruction included processing training on higher-value items such as soy kebabs and tom brown (a meal made from cereal, soya beans, and groundnuts) — items that could be sold to local school feeding programs.
Through GROW, she was linked to and has pursued new and different markets for her aggregated soy products, including processors, poultry farmers, and the regional school feeding program.
“I would not have been able to access these needed links with other actors other than through MEDA,” Benedicta says.
By working as a sales agent, she increased her farming acreage from a half-acre to 12 acres and was able to afford to put her daughter through nursing school.
Benedicta started a moringa nursery as another revenue stream. The moringa is a flowering tree often called the drumstick tree. The moringa’s leaves are used for tea, its seeds produce oils, and powders are ground from its leaves and roots.
Brokering tractor services helped her save money to buy a Motor King, a motorized three-wheel truck with a flatbed on the back. She uses the truck to transport crops or to drive neighbors to markets or neighboring villages for a small fee. She also drives the village chief to meetings, which has earned her prestige and respect in the community, including being invited to sit in on meetings.
Benedicta coaches other women farmers. She is keenly aware of the buying needs of processors, including their requirement for clean soybeans, free of debris and stones, so she advises farmers accordingly.
She also tries to assist women with expansion into soy processing. “There are some women that are wanting to get into processing, and I teach them for free,” she said.
While Benedicta sees great potential for her business, there are challenges. She would like to purchase her own tractor to ensure reliability of service for her farmer clients. However, like other women sales agents, obtaining financing is challenging.
Bank interest rates in Ghana remain unrealistically high. Waiting time for loan approval is notoriously long, sometimes up to two years.
This story is excerpted from the Women sales agent case study, part of the Ghana GROW Learning Series.