A new event aimed at empowering women in Ghana will take its first steps in May, beginning in Guelph.
Known as Guelph to Goderich to Ghana to grow (G2G2G to grow) is a five day event will see 12 women will walk 125 km, along the Guelph to Goderich Rail Trail. The walk will be used to raise money for supporting women entrepreneurs and smallholder farmers in Ghana.
G2G2G to grow has been organized by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). The Waterloo organization said it is aiming to raise $100,000 with this event to help 40,000 female farmers and business owners.
So far, over $37,000 has been raised for this event, but MEDA said this is expected to increase to over $60,000 by Monday.
Wendy Clayson, a Guelph resident and a chief financial investment officer at MEDA, is one of the 12 women who will be walking all five days of the event.
"I doubt that I will meet these women, but it's exciting to know that these five days, of what might be gruelling towards the end, will make a difference for them," said Clayson.
Clayson adds the money raised from the walk will help invest in business skill training, capital and developing markets for Ghana women.
"It's not good enough to have higher yields on your farms, you also need markets to sell your products," she said.
To help prepare for the event, Clayson went on a practice walk with the other women along part of the trail in Guelph in March. She mentions also getting in one walk of 10,000 steps a week and additional walks of 5,000 steps each on top of that.
"It was really quite something on our practice walk to realize where it takes you, so that is a nice connection as well, to be starting in Guelph and exploring a local trail I've never walked on before," said Clayson.
Another woman taking part in the event is Jennifer Barnes. Barnes said she heard about the event through MEDA and hopes to raise $20,000.
Having participated in MEDA programs in Tanzania, Barnes said she believes in the organization’s mission in empowering women through social and economic opportunities.
“I feel, as a woman entrepreneur, it's really important to support women in business," said Barnes, who owns a wellness business. “My experience in Tanzania, was that the women business owners who did well would invest the profits back to the family and would provide clothing, food and education and this led to their children getting well-paying jobs.
“When you have help and guidance, it really makes a huge difference.”
Barnes adds she is also participating in the event in memory of her mother-in-law who passed away last year.
“She was a big part of MEDA and so I'm also walking the trail in memory of her,” said Barnes. "She just loved MEDA. She went on a lot of the MEDA conventions and the MEDA projects as well. It definitely has special meaning to me."
Dean Shoemaker, a senior development officer at MEDA, explains this event is based on a previous event called Ghana Grows, which helped 23,000 farmers. He adds other participants who can’t join all the days for the event can walk with the group for one day.
G2G2G to grow starts on May 11 at 8 a.m. and ends on May 15 at 5 p.m. More details can be found on the event page on Facebook.