Meet the coffee entrepreneur empowering Ghana's women

STORY: As a hazy dawn breaks over the forested peaks of eastern Ghana, a small group of women are hard at work.

They're picking coffee.

The beans harvested here are destined for high-end restaurants and hotels.

And that's thanks to a female-owned company putting in the grind to empower women farmers.

Benedicta Tamakloe is a former computer science teacher who founded Accra-based roasting company Bean Masters.

Hers is one of the few female-owned coffee companies in Ghana and sources exclusively from women farmers.

"It gave me a mission beyond myself, it gave me fulfilment actually. "

While Ghana is the world's second biggest producer of cocoa, its coffee industry is small and male-dominated.

Most smallholder farmers lack access to the resources needed to market their beans.

To overcome such challenges Tamakloe and around 200 female coffee growers established a collective.

Last year the group produced around 10 metric tons of coffee.

Much of it was roasted by Tamakloe at a chocolate factory in Accra.

A portion of the proceeds funds development projects in the villages where the women farm.

"I didn't see the money, the income from it, sustaining my life but the joy of... When you see the smiles on the faces of the women, you can know that you're doing something good."

Tamakloe says she never meant to get this involved.

When she started out, around five years ago, she only intended to help women from her village find buyers.

Then a friend from Ghana's cocoa industry gave her some advice:

"... that sometimes you need to be in the game to understand the game properly."

Today Bean Masters sells in bulk to upmarket premises.

But Tamakloe wants to expand to retail-size bags - making the coffee available to a wider range of Ghana's caffeine-lovers.

That'll mean a bigger market for farmers like Isha Pagniw.

She says the collective's members help each other so they all harvest at the same time.

The principle, she adds, is that if you help someone today, they'll help someone else tomorrow.