Proud to be a young farmer in Guinea
Attracting and retaining youth in the agricultural sector remains a challenge. However, working in agriculture might be just the right answer to tackling growing youth unemployment on the African continent.
At just 22 years, Mariama Camara is a model of bravery for all the young people in her community of Mamou, Guinea. She is a student, head of an agricultural business, and founder of an association that fights violence against women.
Every Sunday, since the age of seven, Mariama joined her mother in the fields to grow potatoes. At 16, she invested 250,000 Guinean Francs (GNF), the equivalent of €20, in growing her own chili, corn, and okra, 25km from Mamou.
With great determination, Mariama then extended her plot to grow potatoes, peppers, and eggplants. Her harvests quickly amounted to 750,000 GNF (€60). This was the beginning of a promising future in agriculture. Now, Mariama is more determined than ever to move forward.
A passion for entrepreneurship
In 2019, Mariama decided to create her company Sonna for Sustainable Development. She named Sonna after her mother who had passed on to her the passion for working closely with the earth.
To extend and truly establish her agriculture business, Mariama called on the International Trade Centre's programme that supports the socio-economic integration of young people in Guinea (INTEGRA). She needed advice on developing her business plan as well as coaching in entrepreneurship and financial management. After just two weeks, Mariama was able to efficiently lead her new business.
Pursuing her dreams despite obstacles
As was the case for many other businesses across Guinea, Sonna for Sustainable Development was not spared by COVID-19.
Faced with uncertainty and panic during the pandemic crisis, many Guinean farmers overproduced. Without cold storage facilities, many crops were lost.
But it takes more than that to stop Mariama.
To revive her business and offset her economic losses, through her participation in the INTEGRA project, Mariama received a grant of 41,000,000 GNF (€3,660) from the Integrated Agricultural Development Project of Guinea, financed by the World Bank.
During her three years of entrepreneurship, Mariama has faced many challenges and failures.
Today, she wishes to share her experience to lead young farmers in their reflections and their approaches to sustainable agricultural projects.
The International Trade Centre’s support programme for the socio-Economic Integration of Youth (INTEGRA) develops technical and professional skills of young Guineans.
A joint initiative of the Government of Guinea and the European Union, INTEGRA is part of the Valletta Trust Fund to reduce irregular migration to Europe.