In order to increase the independence of the school, we started looking for a new source of income next to the plantation in mid-2015. Because it is impossible for us to live in Belgium and know what people in Ghana are interested in, we gave Emelia the task to come up with some ideas that could make profit. During the next months, a lot of possibilities pasted the line. From the sale of artificial hair, African women do like complex and time-consuming haircuts, to the rental of tents and chairs for wedding parties and funerals. Time after time, together with Emelia and Nana, we set up a business plan to see of the activity would be profitable. These first ideas did not meet our expectations because the start-up cost was too high or the profit margin uncertain. We did not want to start something without thinking them through first.

By the beginning of 2016 the idea came to sell Kente rope. These bulbs of brightly coloured ropes are used in our region to weave traditional robes. Our research showed that many of these weavers live in the villages in our neighbourhood but they all have to travel to the big cities in order to get new stock. This is very time consuming for them, which increases the cost of weaving. Due to our starting budget we can buy a larger amount of stock so the cost of transportation becomes a lot smaller and we can make enough profit selling to the artists in the neighbourhood.

In order to convert this idea into reality, the first charges were sold from the school. This way we could instantly see if the turnover would be sufficient to continue this business. Soon this initiative turned out to be a great idea and the monthly sales were increasing. Because the storage space at school was quite limited, we even began to dream about a real store.

Sooner than expected, we were able to buy a container store for a good price around May 2016. This shop was not yet fully finished but the central location in the village seemed ideal. With a layer of paint, some tiles and a new ceiling we opened Akwaaba Trading Centre sometime later!

Emelia noticed that there were actually many product snot available at our site or in the surrounding villages. We decided that she may sell whatever she wants as long as nobody else sells the same product in our village. After all, we do not want to compete with villagers we need to work very hard themselves to get around.

Today, our shop is a flourishing business where you can find all kinds of stuff besides the traditional ropes, from diapers to tomatoes, rice or a cold coke. And even more important, the shop is a source of income for the school which remains fairly constant throughout the year. This allows us to overcome the periods between two harvests on the farm when there is little money coming from it.