Women sit in a row and applaud as they listen to volunteer Juliana at a community meeting
VSO/Tim Maynard

Helping female farmers get better at business

Cocoa Life Ghana

We’re training women in Ghana in essential business, agricultural and leadership skills – and empowering them to share their new-found knowledge with their communities.

Women play a vital role in cocoa farming: they labour during the harvest, and between seasons their small businesses provide what may be the family's only source of income.

As part of the Cocoa Life project in association with Mondelez, we’re working with Ghana’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture to train female farmers, who then go on to mentor other women to develop their business, farming and leadership skills.

Not only is this helping cocoa farming families, but it’s also benefiting the community as a whole.

From farmer to businesswoman

Julia Aboaagyewa laughs
VSO/Tim Maynard
Juliana Aboaagyewa has received VSO-led training in her role as a Women's Extension Volunteer

Life was hard for Juliana Aboaagweya. A single mother, she is also financially responsible for her sister's children and her elderly parents.

As part of her role as a Women Extension Volunteer (WEV), Juliana received training in gari [a powdered product made from grated and dry-fried cassava] production, alongside advice on business development, record keeping, and saving and investment.

I wasn't doing record keeping before so I never knew how much time I was spending on work or how much money I was spending. Now I can see from my income records what profit I have made. It helps me see where things could be improved, or where I should do more of the same.

Thanks to her improved technical skills and financial acumen, Juliana’s increased her gari production almost tenfold, from 10 bags per session to nearly 100. Now, she no longer describes herself as a farmer, but as a businesswoman instead.

Since increasing her income and starting to save, Juliana’s been able to reroof her house, and is building a new home for her parents. She’s purchased a generator and, thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit, now charges others in the community to watch TV or charge their phones.

Women empowering women

Following her training, Juliana formed a group of 30 female entrepreneurs to pass on what she learned. As a Women Extension Volunteer, she acts as a mentor to other women in the community, sharing her new-found skills in business and farming, as well as providing advice on wider issues surrounding health, nutrition and hygiene.

The women in Juliana’s group have each opened up a personal savings account, and also pay into a joint account which is then used to support members if they have emergency health costs or need help with school fees. The fund is also used to grow businesses further, for example by enabling members to invest in more land.

Women's Extension Volunteer Julia Aboaagyewa shows her demonstration garden to some other members of her women's group
VSO/Tim Maynard
Juliana uses her demonstration garden to teach other women about growing nutritional vegetables for their families

Supporting improved health and nutrition

After receiving agricultural training from an expert VSO volunteer from Sri Lanka, Juliana is now encouraging her fellow group members to develop backyard gardens, so enabling women to provide a varied and nutritious diet for their families.

Juliana has created a large and successful demonstration garden, which she uses to teach other women about the nutritional value of different vegetables, along with techniques for growing and harvesting them successfully.

People learn by seeing

Find out more about our work in:

A group of primary schoolchildren hold hands and laugh as they play outside in the schoolyard.
VSO/Teresa Menka


We've worked in Ghana since 1958, strengthening inclusive education systems and supporting people to develop sustainable and resilient livelihoods.

Cocoa farmer Abiba leans on a cocoa tree with ripening pods

Increasing profits for cocoa farmers

Cocoa Life is supporting cocoa-farming communities in Ghana to benefit from increased yields and bigger profits, thanks to our partnership with Mondelēz International.