Two agricultural value chains have the strongest potential to create attractive employment opportunities for young women in Northern Ghana

A recent study revealed that groundnut and hand–crafted shea butter are the two agricultural value chains with the strongest potential to create sustainable entrepreneurship and work opportunities for young women in Northern Ghana. The collaborative rapid market assessment was conducted by the Lab Project at the International Labour Organization (ILO), CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education), and the Mastercard Foundation.

Read the full report here.

The study noted that the shea and groundnut value chains are currently dominated by women, from production, processing to trading, and with a buoyant export market for value-added shea products such as shea butter, soap, and other artisanal skincare products. Further developing these value chains will increase household incomes and export revenues for the country.

Young women on the continent are generally less likely than young men, or their peers in urban areas, to be working, attending school, or undergoing  some form of training. In Ghana, research1 indicates gaps between women in the south and the north, with women in the north lagging far behind on important indicators such as nutrition, health, and economic opportunities.

Although women are estimated to produce about 70-80% of the food consumed in Ghana, many are trapped in “necessity” entrepreneurship with limited prospects of overcoming gender and economic barriers in expanding their businesses, increasing their incomes, and driving economic growth through the creation of work opportunities.

The study also explored key constraints for young women within these value chains and the wider market systems, the possible root causes of these constraints, and potential interventions to address them.       .

In addition to secondary data, primary data was collected from over 30 interviews to better understand the economic and social context within which the target group live and work, their aspirations, lived experiences, and job preferences. Research data was collected from agribusinesses, farmers, small-scale processors, aggregators, input suppliers, development actors, universities, and research institutes. The assessment also explored gendered constraints that young women face, alongside market-based constraints.

For each core value chain explored however, several key constraints were identified. These included lack of access to machinery and infrastructure; business development services; and finance.

Taking all the findings into consideration, the report made a number of cross-sectional recommendations. These include the promotion of mentorship, industry role models, and apprenticeship opportunities to help overcome entrenched social norms that limit women’s role in growing their thriving enterprises. The report also identified a significant gap in childcare services, outlining an opportunity to develop childcare services as a business area to further explore and improve.

The report provided practical solutions and partnership opportunities to address market-based limitations. These recommendations included i) collaborating with machinery and equipment providers to provide affordable equipment suited to the needs of women; ii) connecting with buyers willing to provide technical support to women operating in the value chain; iii) partnering with business development service providers to develop a suite of tailored advisory services; and iv) working with proactive financial institutions to develop a strong “business case” for better serving the needs of young, rural female entrepreneurs.

Looking ahead, CAMFED, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, will seek to apply the recommended interventions and deepen partnerships to support young Ghanaian women to succeed in these two exciting value chains. Progress will be tracked, and learning will be shared to inform wider scale-up.

Read the full report here.



Learn, thrive, and lead change.

CAMFED is a pan-African movement, revolutionizing how girls’ education is delivered. Through a gold-standard system of accountability to the young people and communities we serve, we have created a model that radically improves girls’ prospects of becoming independent, influential women. Our impact increases exponentially through the Association of young women educated with CAMFED’s support. Together, we multiply the number of girls in school, and accelerate their transition to secure livelihoods and leadership.

Through the CAMFED Association, women are leading action on the big challenges their countries face – from child marriage, and girls’ exclusion from education to climate change. This unique pan-African network of lawyers, doctors, educators, and entrepreneurs now numbers more than 150,000 and is growing exponentially as more girls complete school and join them.

Our collective efforts have already supported more than 3.3 million children to go to school across Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, and nearly 5.7 million students have benefitted from an improved educational environment.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit:

About the Young Africa Works Program

Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people, particularly young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. It is estimated that by 2030, Africa will be home to the world’s largest workforce, with 375 million young people entering the labour market. With the right skills, these young people will improve their lives and the lives of their communities, contributing to Africa’s overall competitiveness.

The Young Africa Works program is currently being implemented in seven African countries in collaboration with governments, the private sector, business leaders, educators, and young people. Countries involved in the first phase of the strategy include Rwanda, Kenya, Senegal, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda.


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 Mastercard Foundation

Kweku Ahiagble