Sankofa Snacks

Location: Ghana |


From the end of November until mid-January, we—Frederique Spruijt, Guusje Smit, Hanna Vijver, and Feline Nuijten—spent time in Accra, the capital of Ghana, for our minor in International Entrepreneurship and Development. During this period, we worked with Sankofa Snacks, a Ghanaian company that produces plantain chips and supports local farmers through training and assistance for small-scale agriculture.

A major problem we encountered was the water shortage during the dry season, which caused many crops to fail and left local farmers with an income for only half the year, leading to poverty and instability. Additionally, a significant portion of the plantain harvest was lost, with 88 percent of the total mass being wasted or burned.

As a team, we decided to focus on reducing waste at Sankofa Snacks and among local farmers. We discovered that the stems and leaves of the plantain plant contain strong fibers traditionally used in crafts and decorative items, such as baskets and carpets, and even for hair extensions. Although there is already a market for these fibers, there was a lack of affordable equipment to extract them in Ghana.

To address this issue, we partnered with RurATechPromotion and the GRATIS Foundation. RurATech is a German-Ghanaian company focused on sustainable social and technological development in rural West Africa, while the GRATIS Foundation operates under the Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry and focuses on industrialization through technological development.

Together, we worked on designing a machine that can extract the fibers from plantain stems. This prototype is entirely produced in Ghana and is easy to transport, with the aim of making it accessible to local farmers and communities. This would not only generate additional income for plantain farmers but also reduce the waste associated with plantain chip production.

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