At Waste 360 – a waste management company in Takoradi in the Western region of Ghana – 33-year old Yvonne Adjei is found behind her desk coordinating daily waste collection rounds in the municipality. Yvonne is a participant of the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) employability training programme supported by the European Union and United Nations Capital Development Fund project, Boosting Green Employment and Enterprise Opportunities in Ghana (GrEEn). Through the training programme, trainees like Yvonne gain the opportunity to enhance their employment prospects by learning practical skills and applying these during the internship period. As part of the training programme, two-month internships are organised by GrEEn training partners who match trainees’ skills and interests with host green companies.
Yvonne obtained her degree in Environment and Resource Management from the University of Development Studies in 2011. Since graduating, she has been producing soaps, shower gels, and hand sanitisers for income generation. But Yvonne has always had an interest to work in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector.
In September 2020, Yvonne saw a call for application for the Opportunities for Youth Employment (OYE) training programme on SNV’s social media page. The call offered successful candidates with the opportunity to learn more about the WASH sector. Yvonne was shortlisted and contacted by SNV’s training partner in the region, MDF West Africa.
‘At that time, I was living in Tarkwa but relocated to Takoradi to attend the training (programme). I applied because I wanted to be linked to institutions that are into green businesses, which is exactly what OYE does. They prepared me to enter my area of interest and gave me knowledge on professionalism, conflict management, and relating with people in the workplace. They also taught me negotiation skills.’
By design, participants who complete the OYE employability training programme gain a two-month internship opportunity with one of OYE’s partner companies. Yvonne was matched to Waste 360, where she is currently doing her internship.
‘At school, I learned about waste disposal and engineered landfill sites. But lessons were not practical. They were more theoretical. At Waste 360, my exposure to service management and delivery has been an eye-opener. Through my internship at Waste 360, I travel to sites and see how services are delivered. Through this exposure, I gain first-hand information and experience on waste management.’
Yvonne is not just learning. She is also identifying opportunities to promote how Ghana can go green at local levels.
‘As an intern in Waste 360, I followed collection trucks that were lifting bins from various households and companies. I realised that even though some individuals segregated their waste, collected trash were dumped all together in vehicles and in dedicated landfill sites approved by town authorities. The absence of segregation influenced my decision to set up an engineered landfill site to facilitate this.’
Parallel to her internship, Yvonne has started putting together her plan to start her own segregated, engineered landfill site.
‘In order to make my business a reality, I am identifying stakeholders and seeking out partnerships with investors. I am sharing my business plan with MMDAs [Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies] to influence them to construct an engineered landfill site in their areas. I am also identifying potential landfill sites in the outskirts of town. Currently, I am writing proposals for District Assemblies and start-ups, as well as international organisations, that are interested to partner with me and financially support my idea of a segregated landfill site.’