Teacher and Shea Entrepreneur, Ghana

At an early age, I discovered a sense of purpose—a purpose to become an agent of change for children, especially girls, and for all those facing difficult situations.

I am Portia, a trained teacher by profession, from the Upper West Region of Ghana. My education has equipped me with the skills to pursue my passion for teaching and community development.

Growing up as the only girl in my family presented its fair share of challenges, as I had responsibilities at home on top of my schoolwork. These challenges became even more daunting when I tragically lost both parents. I went to live with my paternal uncle, who supported my education as much as he could, and managed to keep my hope for the future alive.

Throughout my formative years, I encountered numerous girls who faced circumstances similar to mine. The overwhelming challenges and distressing situations they experienced because of poverty made them vulnerable to exploitation and further challenges. I made a personal commitment to help and become a beacon of hope for them. My own story took a positive turn when I received support from CAMFED and the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program during my time at Senior High School, marking the beginning of my leadership journey.

I started my journey as the Senior Girls’ Prefect and the President of CAMFED clients in my school. Following my graduation, I joined the CAMFED Association of women leaders educated with CAMFED support. I also volunteered with several organizations and youth groups, including Young Female Influencers, Youth Parliament, and Community Action for Rural Development (CARD) Ghana, among others. Together with my CAMFED Association sisters, I have inspired and positively impacted the lives of many people.

I am motivated every day to change the narrative for vulnerable girls and women, making a difference whenever and wherever possible.

Qualifying as a teacher

During my three years of teacher training at Nusrat Jahan Ahmadiyya College of Education, I received motivation, encouragement, and mentorship from my sisters in the CAMFED Association. That played a significant role in shaping me into the person I am today. I also received training in soap production as well as start-up kits through the network, which I used to start a business.

Later on, when I pursued my Bachelor of Education in Social Studies at the University of Cape Coast, I received additional support from CAMFED. This enabled me to complete my degree program successfully in 2022.

During my studies, I joined the Learner Guide program — something that changed my life in many ways. It made me value life more and want to help those who are less fortunate. I developed the ability to see beyond present problems, no matter the challenges, and to share that with my students.

The motivation and experience I gained from being a Learner Guide have influenced everything I do now.


Living out my purpose as an educator

In 2022, I was assigned as a professional teacher at a primary school located in a deprived community. The community lacked basic amenities such as electricity and internet coverage. To compound matters, I was the only teacher in the school responsible for classes from Basic 1 to 6. Although I initially felt disheartened, I quickly rediscovered my purpose and reignited my passion for supporting women and children.

Within my community, each day presents its own set of issues. Many students come to school with torn uniforms, prompting me to bring a needle and thread to mend them after lessons. If the uniforms cannot be repaired, I provide new ones.

Additionally, many children lack proper footwear and educational materials, affecting their comfort and ability to stay in school. I address this issue by supplying educational materials and footwear, ensuring these children have the necessary tools to learn, thrive, and remain in school.

Despite facing numerous challenges, I lead by example and embrace many roles, never wavering in my commitment to serve as a leader.

Now, I am genuinely happy because I am living out my purpose.

Students who previously struggled to attend school have started coming regularly. Beyond being their teacher, my students see me as their mentor and elder sister, creating a nurturing and supportive environment for their growth.

Striking out as a social entrepreneur

During my mandatory national service in 2021, I recognized that the shea industry serves as a major source of livelihood for over two million households in northern Ghana and has the potential to alleviate poverty and create sustainable jobs. However, local shea producers lack resources, advisory services, and market access, which greatly affects their sales.

As a result, many rural residents resort to burning shea trees for charcoal, while others migrate to urban areas in search of non-existent opportunities. I strongly believe that these factors contribute to the high rates of unemployment and poverty, particularly in my community.

Portia and Esther, two women from northern Ghana, crouching to inspect shea nuts drying in the sun.

Here I am with a member of my community, Esther (right), looking at unprocessed shea nuts.

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Keeping women in business and children in school

Motivated by the passion to address these challenges, I founded Pordu Care Enterprise. Through it, I embarked on a journey of shea processing with rural women, supported by CAMFED. I work with 8 women directly in shea processing, and I also support over 20 women by buying their processed shea butter when the demand is high. I source shea nuts from more than 50 women and pay them for it.

I have trained 200 women in soap making and shea butter processing, and some have started their own businesses.

I view this endeavor as an opportunity to create jobs for women in my community, enabling them to earn a living and financially support their families. As an entrepreneur, I impart valuable shea butter processing skills to women, enabling them to secure sustainable incomes and support their children’s education.

I have not only increased sales revenue for local shea butter processors but have also made a significant impact in sustaining education for many students in my community through our educational support initiatives.

Residing in a community where period poverty is a harsh reality — where many girls miss school due to the inability to afford menstrual pads and others drop out because they lack educational materials — a significant portion of my profits is dedicated to providing these items to the most vulnerable children.

To date, I have provided menstrual products and educational support to 420 students.

There’s one student in particular, from a nearby community, who I am currently taking care of. She used to fetch water for people to save money for school. Once I identified her, I supported her to go to school and made her a uniform. Now, she comes to me whenever she needs food, books, pencils, or other educational materials.

Additionally, I offer free life skills training to widows, young people, and girls. These projects are funded with the profits from my business and the support of a few friends. People from nearby communities often reach out for assistance, and I utilize the experience gained from Pordu Care Enterprise, as well as its proceeds, to meet their needs and fulfil their requests.

Two images side-by-side. On the left, Ghanaian entrepreneur Portia holds her finished shea butter products. On the right, Portia helps another woman stir the shea butter as it is heated in a large pot during processing.

On the left, I am holding our finished shea butter products. On the right, I am helping one of the women I work with during shea butter processing.

I envision a future where I can continue my impactful work and no women are held back by stereotypes and discrimination. I firmly believe in the importance of supporting young women like myself who are dedicated to social change. By championing the cause of girls and young women, I aim to make my community a better place .

With unwavering determination, leadership acumen, and a deep commitment to social transformation, I stand as a beacon of hope and a catalyst for positive change in my community and beyond.

I am dedicated to breaking down barriers, challenging stereotypes, and creating a more inclusive society where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive.

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