Dr. Rita Owusu-Amankwah is a highly trained professional with an impeccable background in providing leadership/ consultancy services to government, private sector, UN Agencies, NGOs, farmers and communities. She has 24 years’ experience in the cocoa sector. She started her career at a cocoa purchasing company namely, Kuapa Kooko Ltd as Society Development Officer in 1997 by mobilizing farmers to form cooperative societies and initiated Kuapa Kokoo Women empowerment programme. She was one of the pioneers in setting up child labour research, structures, procedures and remediation interventions in the cocoa sector of Ghana while working with International Labour Organisation as a country coordinator of West Africa Cocoa/Commercial Agriculture Project (WACAP) in 2004 and as the National Manager for National Programme for the Elimination of Child Labour in Cocoa (NPECLC) in 2006. Through these programmes, she examined the feasibility of child labour monitoring system and advocated for monitoring of child labour situation in the cocoa sector at the time that many were skeptical about it. At the end of her tenure as manager of NPECLC in 2010, all the District Assemblies in cocoa producing districts in Ghana had signed MOU to implement child labour interventions and remediation activities had been started in 535 communities. She led a team to develop Ghana Hazardous Activity Framework for the cocoa sector. In addition, she mobilized cocoa stakeholders and set up Partners Forum to encourage peer learning and enhance coordination of activities in the sector on child labour. Out of these engagements, annual reports were developed to showcase Ghana’s progress in the elimination of child labour.
In 2008 she championed the cocoa certification process in Ghana which saved Ghana’s cocoa from being blacklisted by US Executive Order 13126 on the Prohibition of Acquisition of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor. She was the lead consultant who trained the first batch of sustainability officers in Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast under GIZ Certification Capacity Enhancement Project in 2011/2012. In 2013, she established and coordinated the first ever Ghana Cocoa Platform, an initiative aimed at enhancing public-private dialogue and joint action planning to sustain the cocoa value chain until it became an integral part of to COCOBOD in 2015.
As a researcher and gender expert, Rita has led teams of researchers to conduct many studies in areas of gender, child labour and farmer livelihoods. Furthermore, she is organizational development expert, seasoned trainer, and dynamic coordinator and highly experienced in programme design and management, development of strategic frameworks, and training manuals as well as training of individuals and groups. In 2016, as Executive Director for SED Consult, she helped the farmers of ABOCFA Cooperative to start Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA). Until the beginning of October 2021, Rita was a World Bank Consultant at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection as a Director for Social Protection in charge of technical and operational issues as well as coordination to ensure effective implementation of social protection in Ghana.
She holds a degree of Doctor (Sociology) focusing on innovation in Supply Chain Management from Wageningen University in the Netherlands, MA in Industrial Management (Marketing & Financial Management), Post Graduate Diploma in Organization Development from OD Institute in the USA and BA in Social Sciences (Economics & Sociology) from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and many short courses related to area of work.