Kwame Nkansah-Boamah…from a white-collar worker to pineapple farmer
Many young men will consider it a golden opportunity to get a job in a bank. Few, or none will turn it down. But, one young man made that bold decision. He decided to rather start a pineapple farm, and turned down a promising banking job.
Today, the farm has transitioned into a fruit juice making company. Let’s find out how he made it.
Kwame Nkansah Boamah, CEO of Nhyira Farms, grew up in Atomic, a suburb of Accra. He is a product of Tema Senior High School and proceeded to study Political Science and Economics at the University of Ghana, completing in 2011. After school, he did his national service with UT Holdings.
Kwame’s father is an Agronomist and agribusiness consultant. He had a pineapple farm at Berekuso in the Eastern Region, which he set up as a subsistence farm. His mother used to make juice from the pineapples at home for the family, and used it to serve their visitors.
In time, some of the visitors requested to be supplied with the juice and encouraged the Nkansah family to make it a business. But it seems the commitment was not there at the time.
How Kwame turned things around
After Kwame completed his national service, he had the opportunity to work permanently with UT Holdings after he passed the aptitude test. There, he could have had a relatively easy start to life, compared with his peers who had to still look for a job after their national service. Quite surprisingly, Kwame turned it down. Why?
“I was in a fix at some point. I had to decide whether to take the offer where I would get a good salary, get a car, and live comfortably; or go into the trenches and start the hard way. Then, I finally decided I will start my own business. I felt I could make the pineapple business profitable if I took it seriously. So I decided to take it up, and turn down the offer from UT Holdings.”
Kwame communicated his decision to the family and his father offered him full support and rented a land for him at Amanfrom, close to Aburi in the Eastern region, for 10 years.
He registered his business with the name Nhyira Farms.
The progress so far
It appears Kwame had his intuition right when he moved into the business. Even though he has never advertised his products before, the response from the market has been very phenomenal.
He started with just a three-acre farm, but today has a forty-acre farm.
Currently, he processes the pineapples in fruit juice with the brand name called “Juice time” using his farm as his source of raw material. He has a processing plant that is able to produce 1 ton of juice per hour.
His business now even runs consultation services in pineapple farming for other institutions. For example, the Valley View University, Techiman Campus, consulted him to help develop a four-acre pineapple farm.
Day in and day out, he receives orders from hotels, individuals, schools, and other organisations. Today, he is not even able to meet demand for his products.
How his juice stands out
What makes Juice time stand out from other products is its natural taste. Right from planting the pineapples to harvesting, Kwame makes sure he sticks to his core principle of producing organic food.
He also adds no preservatives to the pineapple juice, thereby, giving the juice a natural taste, making it healthy to drink.
It was not an easy decision to quit the bank job, Kwame said. He had to linger on the decision for two months before he could finally master the courage to quit. Family and friend felt it was not wise for him to leave such a coveted company and move into farming, a profession often disliked by the youth.
“At a point, some wondered if everything was okay with me, considering that a golden opportunity came my way and I decided to miss it and go and farm.”
His father is the only one who was happy about the choice he made.
Again, agro-processing tends to be somewhat capital intensive if you want to really take it seriously. As a budding entrepreneur, it became difficult for him to expand. But thanks to EDAIF, he was given some money to purchase a processing machine from GRATIS Foundation which has now increased his capacity.
Kwame participated in a business plan competition organized by Technoserve Ghana through its Enhancing Growth in New Enterprises (ENGINE) programme. He recounts some of the benefits of the programme.
“ENGINE paid a consultant to give us technical knowledge and they also helped me to pay for part of my certification at the Ghana Standards Authority. ENGINE has also given me and my staff training in food processing. They gave me a consultant to help me in my bookkeeping. In fact, Engine has helped me improve on my managerial efficiency.”
How education has helped him
“Even though I didn’t study food processing in school, education has really helped me in understanding business. Education has also opened my mind and broadened my scope on how to manage people and my business.
Kwame wants Juice time to become the preferred pineapple juice in the country. He plans to also export it to other African countries in the near future.
Advice to unemployed graduates
“You need to examine yourself and weigh the options you have and choose one that will give you a future. I took a bold decision and moved into agriculture. So I will encourage unemployed graduates to step out of their comfort zone and start something small. It will succeed one day.”