Ghana native Nana Owusu-Achau ’12 graduated with an impressive skillset in computer science, information systems, and engineering. He also served the Calvin community in many capacities over his four years, culminating with his role as student body president. Hard work and accomplishment landed him his first job on Wall Street. Yet, a mere three days into his career, Owusu-Achau pivoted and decided to return to Ghana. “I realized all that effort I could be putting out into these Wall Street companies, if I brought that to Ghana, the difference I could make is enormous.” He left the Big Apple in August, unsure where his future would lead, certain he could make an impact. 

On the flight home, an article in a leading financial magazine caught Owusu-Achau’s attention and “a seed was planted.” According to the article, in 2012, Africa used only 8% of its arable land. Owusu-Achau contacted fellow Calvin alumni from Africa. “I said, ‘Hey guys, we’ve got to do something.’ We were underutilizing the resources we had as a continent.” He admits, at the time, he didn’t know what that “something” was. 

Owusu-Achau chose to partner with his father in real estate, learned the business, and eventually branched off to start his own company. By 2015, he’d also invested in agriculture; however, his first ventures didn’t succeed as he hoped. Then, in 2018, while working on a real estate project, he met a community chief who shared some locally grown rice. “I loved it. Prior to this, I used to consume imported rice without thinking.” Finally, he saw a way to ad- dress the problem of underutilized resources in Ghana. Owusu-Achau supported two farmers from the chief ’s community, helping them to produce high quality rice for the retail market. “Five years down the line, we work with about 300 small-holder farmers and have acquired about 10,000 acres we use for a commercial size farm.” His company, Agro Kings, sells Nana’s Rice and other food products in Ghana. More recently, the company began exporting rice to Belgium, Germany, the U.S, the U.K., and China. 

Owusu-Achau lives by the principle of ta panta, the Greek phrase meaning “all things” that Paul used in his letters to early Christian churches. Owusu-Achau says he learned its application to his own life at Calvin. “God has called us to be agents of change in all things, whatever we find ourselves doing. As ambassadors of Christ, we have the responsibility of representing Jesus Christ on earth—being an instrument of change as he was.” 

Agro Kings operates on three pillars. “We believe strongly in feeding the future, empower- ing the marginalized, and utilizing technology.” This means increasing food security through local food production, training farmers, and moving their growers’ products into new markets. Owusu-Achu believes every farming community Agro Kings partners with should benefit from its presence. The company helps communities access clean water, improve sanitation, and employ youth. Agro Kings is also committed to positioning women in key leadership roles within the company. To minimize climate impact, Agro Kings uses renewable energy to generate electricity and power irrigation. 

Of course, a business of this scale couldn’t run without key players and steady support. Owusu-Achau and his wife, Phyllis, work hard to make sure they meet the needs both of their employees and their growing family. Phyllis often works behind the scenes in human resources, especially as a support to female team members navigating the challenges of work-life balance. Together, Owusu-Achau and his wife have two daughters and also provide a home base to their chief farmer’s three children, so the girls can receive a quality education in the city. 

Only a decade has passed since Owusu-Achau stepped off Calvin’s campus, diploma in hand. And though his path changed directions, his commitment to serving as an “agent of change” in God’s world never has. “I have always been a fundamental believer in the fact that we have a rich African culture, rich resources, and land.” That belief continues to inspire and guide Owusu-Achau’s vision for Ghana.