CAMFED Association entrepreneur, Ghana
Ruka’s family struggled financially on her mother’s salary as a teacher, and each day presented new challenges. She would wake up at 4am every morning to do chores and then walk two hours to school.
Ruka and her two brothers were raised by their mother in rural Ghana. As the only girl, Ruka was given more chores in the home and only had time to study at night before bed. Her mother struggled to pay her school fees and Ruka was nearly pushed out of school due to non-payment because it took so long to save money.
Despite financial strain, Ruka completed her education and with a lot of perseverance, she was able to achieve a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Development Studies in Ghana. After completing university, Ruka worked as an English instructor and during this time she found herself questioning: “What next?” There are few employment opportunities in many rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where 49% of women do not participate in the labor force. The answer to her question came in the form of the CAMFED Association (CAMA), the network of young women leaders educated with CAMFED support. Through the CAMFED Association she joined the financial literacy program as a Core Business Trainer in 2011.
I do not believe I could have come this far as a young woman if I had not had an education.
Ruka worked as a Core Trainer until 2013 when she was selected for the Innovation Bursary Program (IBP), a CAMFED program delivered in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation which provided business training, internships and mentorship through experienced business owners for young women from marginalized rural communities to start and grow innovative businesses.
The experience and knowledge she gained through the IBP helped Ruka found and expand her meat processing business, Jamilullah Farms, and support herself and others in her community. Her business employs young people so that they may finance their education, make a living, and even gain the knowledge necessary to start their own businesses.
In 2014 Ruka was recognized as a Mandela Washington Fellow for her entrepreneurship and community activism. She travelled to The Presidential Summit in Washington, DC, where she was one of 25 people to win a $25,000 award.
The money enabled Ruka to further expand Jamilullah Farms, as well as support over 100 small businesses owned by rural women.
For me education is the one tool that gives young women presence. Which is key, because you need to be present in order to be able to use your voice.
Ruka is an unstoppable force for change and she is an inspiration to her fellow CAMFED Association members. Philanthropy is a cornerstone of these young women’s commitment to the next generation, and Ruka leads by example. She has contributed to 50 programs across Ghana and has mentored 3,000 young people. She even spread her knowledge internationally with the Profit Plus Project in Zambia, where she provided poultry management training to 50 people.
Recognizing that access to technology is one of the greatest challenges for people in her area, Ruka used her connections to acquire four laptops for her community and has since started teaching children how to use them. She says “The kids that did not know what ‘booting up a computer’ meant in January this year can now type — and draw the houses in their community — using these computers.” Ruka says that this is her proudest accomplishment to date.
In November 2017, Ruka was elected CAMFED Association National Chairperson for Ghana for three years, leading a network of young women activists and philanthropists which then numbered 23,660. She has also served as the Chairperson of the Transition Advisory Group (TAG) which spearheads the CAMFED Association programs that support school graduates in the transition to employment, entrepreneurship and tertiary opportunities, delivered in partnership with CAMFED and the Mastercard Foundation in Ghana.