In December 2021, the European Union (EU), under its Green Employment and Enterprise (GrEEn) opportunities in Ghana innovation challenge, awarded 12 start-ups and entrepreneurs within the Western and Ashanti Regions with a matching grant of GH¢1,170,000. Among the receivers of this grant was Mr Jesse Roland Prah of Roland Rice located in the Western Region of Ghana. This funding aspect of the project aims to support and speed-up the growth of these Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the green and circular economy, so they can offer decent, fair and sustainable jobs to youth, women, and returning migrants within these regions.
Mr Jesse Roland Prah decided on channeling his winnings into the set-up of a Rice Mill factory in the Shama municipality. The Rice Mill which would have a polisher, dehusker, De-stoner, Pelletier machine, among others would be able to create jobs for the youth in the municipality, it would grant other local rice growers an access to a mill to help improve rice production in the region. As a means of benefitting the environment and going green, the rice mill would also transform the waste husks into pellets for fuel to generate additional income. Rice husk pellets are proven effective as a wood fuel. Their low moisture (humidity is typically 7-8%) doesn’t require a lot of energy to burn it off making them highly efficient burnable material.
On the 24th of February, 2022, a sod cutting ceremony was held in Anto – Shama district of the Western Region to commemorate the setting up of the Rice Milling factory , the event was attended by several dignitaries and representatives from stakeholder organizations in the Sekondi Takoradi municipality and Shama district.
Among the invited guests was Ms Genevieve Parker -Twum, Senior Adviser, Incubation and Acceleration at the SNV. In her address to guests, she commended Jesse on his seriousness during the six-month GrEEn Incubation programme.
She explained the purpose of the GrEEn project and how past members have benefited from it. She said The GrEEn Incubation programme focuses on Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana – also known as GrEEn; is a four-year joint project from the European Union, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Ghana, the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and SNV. The project is implemented in the Ashanti and Western regions of Ghana. The GrEEn Incubation Programme which is a free business advisory support from SNV Ghana facilitated by Duapa Werkspace, a business hub, in the Western region. Ms Parker Twum urged members of the local community to help make the rice mill functional and provide jobs for the community.
The District Chief Executive for Shama, Mr Ebenezer Dadzie who was also in attendance said the government is focused on providing the needed assistance to small business in the country to enable them scale up and be in a position to employ more people to reduce the unemployment in the country. He was very appreciative of the initiative by Mr Prah to setup the rice mill in the district. He said with the help of the local community the Shama district can be the leading rice production district in the nation.
He urged chiefs in the locality to help businesses with lands to establish businesses and grow more rice just as they have done for Jesse Prah. He thanked SNV Ghana for supporting small businesses to achieve such feats.
Mr Michael Addo – District Representative of the Ministry for food and agriculture gave his address urging the community to wholeheartedly welcome the initiative of the setup of the Rice Mill factory. He also commended Mr Prah for such a bold move and expressed his joy about how this initiative would impact the local community and the agriculture sector positively.
Mr Michael Asante – Saforo Hub Manager of Duapa Werkspace which is a business Hub located in Takoradi spoke about the operations of the Hub. He said Duapa Werkspace is a skills development center and entrepreneurship support center. He said as part of their efforts to curb youth unemployment in the region and locality Duapa Werkspace provides skill training for youth and Business support services for small businesses in Takoradi and the Western region. Some of the skills training provided are Web designing, Graphic designing, Mobile application development and vocational skills training such as fashion, shoe-making and cosmetology. He said Duapa Werkspace has various training programs such as the GrEEn Incubation Programme in conjunction with SNV Ghana, Digital skills training as well as other programs that the youth and small businesses can easily access.
The rice farmers association in the district also gave their submission saying that the farmers need a lot of assistance and since the sector ministry was present they are calling on them to assist local farmers with the needed help. They were however very grateful for the setting up of the rice mill. They said it would mean more rice production and less time to produce their rice.
Other dignitaries present were the Takoradi Airforce Base Commander Mr Agyin Frimpong, Landowners association of Shama District and Nana Ebusa Panyin Quarshie – Ebusua panyin of Akisi Royal family representing the chief of Shama.
Mr Jesse Roland Prah, CEO of Roland Rice and the vision bearer of the Rice Mill factory, expressed his appreciation to SNV Ghana for their support, to Duapa Werkspace for facilitating the GrEEn Incubation Programme on behalf of SNV Ghana and helping him to be a recipient of the GrEEn Challenge fund. He also expressed appreciation to the chiefs and people of the Shama district for supporting the rice business.
Mr Prah assured the guests that with their support and patronage the brand Roland Rice would become a household name in Ghana and beyond and would also provide Ghanaians with a healthy alternative of local rice.