Since 2017, Dr. Christian Andres has worked to turn two hectares of land in Busua, Ghana, into a vocational center; the culmination of a life-long dream to build something meaningful in Africa. Promoting social entrepreneurship and a circular economy model, the quickly-growing center provides previously untapped opportunities for community members to build crucial skills and create sustainable income sources.
Andres, a Swiss agricultural scientist and the Executive Director of Obrobibini Peace Complex, sparked the inspiration for the center while completing his PhD in Ghana. After engaging in several one-on-one conversations with local farmers, he immediately recognized their struggles, as well as the gift of what they had to offer.
Much of the Ghana population, although well to very well educated, tends to lack the certain core skills required to get a foothold in the world of formal work. The center aims to train community members in these skills so they can find sustainable jobs and live within their full potential.
“Here, you get a lot of opportunities to help others and to see how difficult it is in this world to be a human being and to give your life meaning,” Andres said. “In Ghana, it’s in your face that something is wrong and you need to change something to get somewhere meaningful.” That “sense of meaning” exists for everyone involved with the Obrobibini Peace Complex. An inclusive space where future generations can engage in sustainable and regenerative actions, the center aims to cultivate a climate-neutral lifestyle and support community members in creating alternative and sustainable income sources through social
The center is starting from the agro-food sector in its current beginning stages, and plans to focus on sustainable infrastructure and renewable energies, crafts, tourism, as well as business and project management in the future. Andres said the center should be up and officially running by 2023. His dream is that the center will become a “breeding ground for inner peace.” The Obrobibini Peace Complex’s logo is a yin and yang, representing the fusion of
different cultures to share strengths and weaknesses. The center is the first of its kind in the Global South and is run by a united team of people from the Global South and Global North. Andres hopes that this model can be replicated in other areas. Despite the sustainable and impactful nature of the model, many citizens in the area still struggle to understand the center’s mission. Andres said that many people believe that they are collecting money in the name of the community without giving it to them when really, every dollar made goes back into helping the center grow to employ more people. The center will eventually be financially independent, creating more opportunities for community members to find sustainable employment.
The OPC team continues to make manifold efforts to help the locals understand how their work benefits the community, and how it will continue to create benefits in the future. If it is not already, the center will be the biggest employer in the area. Those who have worked within or have interacted closely with the center understand its value and purpose and have been helpful in passing the message along to friends and family.
Regardless, Andres is confident that as the center grows and continues to provide income, a path to peace, and a way for the planet to heal, the community will realize the full extent of the benefit they can derive from OPC’s work.