Meet Brognan Akoua N’guettia, winner of the Women in Cocoa & Chocolate Network (WINCC) Young Female Talent award. A single mother of two, Brognan Akoua is a field agent for Beyond Beans in Côte d’Ivoire. She is in charge of preventing and addressing child labour and supporting women’s groups.
“I tell myself that only work can allow me to achieve my goals,” explains Brognan Akoua. “I do it with rigor, bravely facing the challenges on my motorcycle, on degraded and impassable tracks. I do so with love and passion for my job.”
Brognan Akoua is indeed no stranger to bumps in the road. Before starting work as a field agent in 2021, she had already been supporting herself for several years. As a student, she faced personal and financial challenges and took up household work to pay for her school fees. She obtained her degree in 2010. After that, for three years, Brognan Akoua earned extra money by selling donuts at the bus station in Bouna. Her objective was to raise funds to take the entrance test for the national agricultural vocational training institute. She succeeded and obtained her ‘Brevet de Technicienne Agricole’. Her take on facing life challenges is: “Never despair and always persevere”. Throughout her life, Brognan Akoua has been a true champion of determination. She explains that “happiness is built. We are actors in our own lives. Whatever the problems we encounter, work is the only solution, and we must continue to have hope; you should not give up.”
Through her work, Brognan Akoua has gained confidence that empowerment can best be achieved when women are in a group and can support each other. Her advice for achieving a positive outcome is to form women’s group, work on income-generating activities – for instance supplying the market with food – and join a Village Saving and Loan Association (VSLAs). This allows women to better meet the costs of raising their children, which is vital in the fight against child labour.
Brognan Akoua knows about juggling these multiple priorities: “I am a proud mother and I want to show my children that I am able to be a good mother and also do my job,” she says. “I believe that empowering women helps to reduce poverty and maintain balance in households. It also allows you to live in a healthy way and makes it possible to send children to school and fight against child labour. It helps to contribute to the development of a nation.”
Upon receiving her award, Brognan Akoua said she was grateful to all the people who have believed in her and have supported her. In her opinion, the WINCC Network can encourage young women to get involved in agricultural entrepreneurship. She looks forward to engaging women leaders in Africa and internationally on her goal, and believes that we must continue to “encourage women who are already fighting for their autonomy and encourage those who are still in the shadows”.
Read more to meet Anne van der Veen, winner of the 2021 WINCC Gender Ambassador award.