Cocoa Diaries Amina Adams

Leader
Isha Allah Medina Women’s Association

Amina Adams, 65, leads a group of 28 women in the Isha Allah Medina women’s association. The women are mostly smallholder cocoa farmers with small plots of land and low yields that cannot generate enough income to fully support them and their families.

Cocoa and chocolate companies have helped them in a number of ways, from free medical screening for conditions like hepatitis B, malaria and HIV, to funding and equipment to help them build their own businesses and bring in additional income. For example, Amina and the women’s association were provided with training and equipment for crop diversification. On top of cocoa, the group now grows vegetables and spices like pepper, okra, tomatoes and ginger, which are sold to earn a supplementary income.

The group has also worked with cocoa and chocolate companies to form a Village Savings and Loans Scheme (VSLA). This works by pooling the savings of the community which are held in a lock box. Members can then take out loans to cover things like medical costs and school fees.

“We contribute GHC5 monthly and GHC2 every fortnight from our weekly market sales. This money is loaned to members in need at a 2% interest. The loans have helped some of our women to start petty trading, which brings goods and services to the community while also helping members to make additional income to cover their household expenses.”

Forming the women’s association has given us greater recognition and a voice in decision making. Women are good managers of finances and when you empower them, you give them a voice in the community.

Amina Adams

Recently, the association received a cargo tricycle. It is hired out to members for a small fee so they can cart cocoa from their farms to the community.

“We charge between GHC5-GHC30 to use the tricycle depending on the distance and from this we saved a little over GHC1000 in our group account last year. As well as earning money for the association, the tricycle releases our members from the burden of carrying heavy loads of cocoa on their heads.”

Amina and her group have seen the difference these initiatives have made to the community. “Forming the women’s association has given us greater recognition and a voice in decision making. Women are good managers of finances and when you empower them, you give them a voice in the community.”