Reverend Quartey, the Chief Executive Officer of Potentate Farms and Mushroom Complex (PFMC), is transforming agricultural waste into edible, healthy, medicinal mushrooms whilst creating jobs and impacting communities. Potentate Farms and Mushrooms Complex began in 1998 after Reverend Quartey watched a television program focused on agricultural- business. It was the mushrooms' various health benefits, environmental remunerations, and job creating potential that attracted his attention and inspired him to seek training. He took a one week mushroom cultivation course, 20 seedlings, a few compost bags, and a small box and began harvesting Oyster mushrooms.
Soon after his first harvest Reverend Quartey's family, friends, and neighbors requested mushrooms. "At first I allowed people to take the mushrooms for free, but then I realized there was a larger need and a business opportunity. I expanded to 200 seedlings and sought further training." With the financial support of some family members, Reverend hired two employees and set out to increase his production and cultivation. As a result he began supplying local supermarkets, hotels, and restaurants with well packaged and marketed Oyster Mushrooms. Today Reverend Quartey has five employees at Potentate Farms and Mushroom Complex.
The business specializes in mushroom cultivation, production, processing, development, technical and extension services, consultancy, marketing, and exports. The products include fresh mushrooms, dried and powered mushrooms, and mushroom tonic. In addition, Reverend Quartey is the sitting President of the Mushroom Growers and Exporters Association of Ghana. As his business, his mission, and the association are growing subsequently is the community's awareness of the various benefits of mushrooms. "I don't want us to do this alone. The market may be untapped but it exists. I believe we should do something to make mushrooms a household name in Ghana so that every house knows about mushrooms and their various benefits," Says Reverend Quartey.
In 2004 Reverend Quartey had the rare opportunity to participate in six week training at the Asian Pacific Edible and Medicinal Mushroom Training Center in China's Fuzhou Provence. This training gave Reverend Quartey valuable and holistic knowledge of mushrooms, connected him with international associations, and introduced him to a global network of mushroom growers; additionally, it inspired Reverend Quartey to return to Ghana and address the underserved mushroom market. Currently Mushrooms, the health promoting super-food, is in high demand on global markets. However, market research suggests only 24% of the total mushroom demand is being met in Ghana. Reverend Quartey aims to change this reality "there is a lot more of the market to satisfy. With a little capital assistance we can meet the demand." Reverend Quartey's motivation for meeting market demand has little to do with making a profit. "It is not about the money," he says. Instead, his interest originates in his deep Christian faith which gives him compassion for the marginalized. "I believe that people should be helped. I do not want to see people suffering. I always want to show people love and attention. I know all things are possible through God; so, I am a positive thinker and I believe in possibilities and solutions." Such positivity encouraged Reverend Quartey to found Missions with Mushrooms, a ministry which trains and assists the unemployed in mushroom farming, providing them with jobs, a sustainable income, improved health, and an opportunity to know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Since its establishment Missions with Mushrooms has trained over 160 out-growers.
In 2010, Reverend Quartey attended Hopeline Institute's SME Training which informed him on a variety of business practices. "Hopeline's SME training was very beneficial because it helped me create a business plan and learn how to properly keep my records. Before then, I had never had any formal training in the financial aspects of business." The Hopeline Training also connected Reverend Quartey with a network of people in the agricultural sector who are now providing him with necessary agro-waste for his mushroom compost bags. Additionally, he is in a formal mentoring relationship with two other Hopeline members and just applied for his first Hopeline SME loan to build his second mushroom cropping house. It has been 13 years since Reverend Quartey watched the television program on mushroom cultivation. Few would have suspected that a television program would transform Reverend Quartey's work and positively impact the lives of many in Ghana and beyond. Reverend Quartey has a mission and it begins with mushrooms.