Janet Gyimah-Kessie

CEO & Founder of Josma Agro Industries, Ghana.

To boost confidence: “Keep praying and remain optimistic, hopeful that things will work, be positive minded and work hard.  As far as fear of  failing, do not entertain the idea or listen to those who talk about your business not succeeding.”

Josma Agro Industries

After taking up farming as a hobby when she left her job of 27 years with The Bank of Ghana, CEO and Founder of Josma Agro Industries received information about a government initiative to increase the production of cassava and she got involved. When the cassava was harvested, she realised a great need for it to be processed in order to reduce waste.  After all, if she was facing challenges in this way, so would other farmers as well. A lady she knew encouraged her to pursue it and this is how she ventured into processing. This was timely and she says “after a short period, farmers from all over, brought their cassava for me to process for them and I now work with over 1000 outgrowers, producing gari and high quality cassava flour.”

Her grandmother was a farmer and as a young child, she would visit her grandmother in the village during school holidays. “We (the grandchildren) would go to the farm with her and help out in any way we could, as our size and age permitted”.

When she started the business, she used her own funds to get it off the ground and “I later received financial support which helped me to expand as it enabled me to get more equipment.”

She alludes to her sense of pride and the positive sides of being a woman entrepreneur: “I am more sympathetic to my staff and feel proud to be of service to the wider community and the sector ‘...’ by processing.  Cassava is brought to my company from rural communities which without me would not be processed”

Keys and barriers to success

Janet feels strongly that being a woman should not stop you from achieving your goals in any way.  Her experience has taught her the value of employing suitable staff.  “It’s important to identify the right kind of staff you need in your business and ensure you employ those who understand what you are trying to achieve. The right and qualified staff who understand quality assurance principles will be crucial to your success.”  It has been a challenge for her to get and retain staff, yet she is not deterred in any way by this; she has rather found ways to make it workable.  She searches far and wide within her network for staff and in some instances, has provided transportation for them to get to the farm.

Essential skills for female entrepreneurs

She encourages women entrepreneurs to “get a good understanding of the business you want to go into and be constantly seeking for the right technologies to enhance your business.”

She associates with people who encourage her: “I ignore those who say I cannot be successful; I simply don’t listen to such talk”. She suggests women in Agribusiness should consider pursuing partnerships - given another chance again, “l would not do it alone but would look for partners because I believe there is great help out there!”