More young women across Africa are steadily taking up agriculture as a career of choice, a welcome development as it promotes food security and increases the participation of women in the entire value chain of food production.
One specific area that is proving to be popular among the young generation of female farmers is agro-processing. According to experts, a thriving agro-processing industry has huge potential to stimulate demand for raw materials from the agricultural industry including creating new opportunities for small-scale farmers particularly rural women.
Adding value to fresh fruit
Yvette Tetteh, the co-founder and the chief executive officer of the Pure and Just Company, which trades under the Yvaya Farm brand, is one such agro-processing enthusiast. Founded in 2018, Pure and Just Company serves the rural and urban markets and its primary focus area is in transforming fresh fruit into natural, tropical dried fruit products. The company is strategically located in an agricultural community in Ghana’s fertile Eastern Region.
Tetteh was born and raised abroad but felt the need to return to her native Ghana in 2015. She founded Pure and Just Company to use it as a catalyst to promote the economic potential of the local people. Tetteh always had empathy for the underdog particularly those marginalised by mainstream society and business. “My agency as an entrepreneur drives my self-determination and defines me as a creative and compassionate person dedicated to improving the local community,” says Tettah.
In addition, she wanted to mobilise the locals and all Africans to be actively involved in the main economy – currently she employs 18 local people. Graduated from Stanford University, Tetteh draws on her incisive analytical skills and her academic background to provide stewardship to her company. In just five years she was able to raise over US$170k in the form of various personal and business awards and grants.
Creating sustainable jobs for the youth
“At Pure and Just Co. we facilitate rural-urban business by linking rural farm produce to local and foreign urban retail opportunities. Specifically, we transform fresh fruit into natural, tropical dried fruit products (mango, pineapple, pawpaw, and banana),” says Tetteh. She says their work creates sustainable jobs for youth, increases farmer incomes, and stimulates economic growth by enhancing an under-developed local value-added agribusiness sector. Our circular climate-smart model, says Tetteh, increases farmer income by 40% and reduces spoilage and post-harvest losses by 50% on average.
Sources of inspiration
Tetteh says what inspired her to found her company is her belief that every individual is unique and has a right to self-determination in an environment that is healthy, politically safe and nourishing to the community. “We want to participate in creating a world where human development is in line with the protection of the environment; and where every person – and, specifically, every African – has the economic means to pursue their dreams. We work to enable people to support themselves, protect themselves against climate change, and to explore their passions and potential,” said Tetteh.
She says what makes her company unique is the fact that their innovation is in collaborative development and sustainable growth that lifts people out of poverty for the long term. She says their model aims to refine a human and environment oriented social business that can be replicated across sub-Saharan Africa. This includes, among others:
- defining and commiting to a living wage for workers
- setting up climate-positive industry in a rural area typically bypassed by development projects and business
- increasing access to technology and information.
Pure and Just Company is a women-led and youth-driven. From 2017 to 2022 they increased their workforce from three to 18. Fourteen of them are women and all of whom under 35. “The more I work to uplift Ghanaians and Black women the more nurturing the environment for me and people like me to live as autonomous, successful people,” Tettah says.
As for her future plans, Tetteh says they are improving their capacity to supply natural food companies globally. “The global market size for dried fruit is approximately $7 billion and the European market for tropical dried fruit alone is increasing with an annual growth rate of 5-7%,” she notes.
Tettah said they are looking to raise $1m to finance a 1000sqm export-oriented facility estimated to generate $1.8m in annual revenue with a production capacity of 240 tonnes of dried fruit a year. This new facility will create 52 new local production jobs and stimulate revenue for up to 100 regional farmers, adds Tettah.