Investing in education and knowledge

Cowtribe, a veterinary delivery company from Ghana and Boehringer Ingelheim have been working together for several years. This collaboration includes the training of Cowtribe staff by supply chain experts from Boehringer Ingelheim. One of the Cowtribe professionals is Latifa Saaka, who took the opportunity to deepen her expertise through a scholarship for a supply chain course. Through the training she boosted her career and has set her long-term goals.

Latifa Saaka sitting in an office


Latifa is sitting in the new Cowtribe office space in Tamale, the capital city of the Northern region of Ghana. She seems like the embodiment of agile working, briefly stopping the conversation to talk to a colleague who has a question before returning to it. Watching Latifa, creates the impression that she’s been working for Cowtribe for a long time. The truth is that she started working for the startup only at the beginning of 2021 herself. What is more, Latifa, who now manages Cowtribe’s supply chain department and three other people working with her, had no longstanding professional career in supply chain management. She initially started as an administration assistant at Cowtribe, working in Business Operations in Beijing, China beforehand. 

Latifa Saaka sitting in an office
Latifa Saaka

But Peter Awin, co-founder of Cowtribe, saw the potential in his new employee and quickly assigned her to the supply chain department. While she mostly taught herself, a regular exchange with Jan-Cassen Kraus, SCM Performance Strategy Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim, got the ball rolling: Thanks to the partnership between Cowtribe and Boehringer Ingelheim, Latifa was able to get insights from someone with years of experience in supply chain who understood the problems she was facing. Jan answered all the questions she had and helped her to plan tasks and responsibilities more efficiently. “That was a turning point for me. I realized that I really want to build my career in this area”, Latifa says. 

The champions league of supply chain courses

To really progress in this career, taking an APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional course is an important step. APICS, or the Association for Supply Chain Management, is an international organization which offers certification programs, training tools and networking opportunities – or “the champions league of supply chain courses”, as Jan calls it. It goes without saying that Latifa was interested in signing up, but budget for the costly course wasn’t one of Cowtribe’s priorities. That’s how the idea of a scholarship sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim was born. “When we strive for sustainable development around the globe, we definitely need to invest in education and knowledge transfer,” shares Clemens Twardy, Global Head of AH Supply Chain Management & Lifecycle Management. Within his professional role, he was able to sponsor this scholarship through the budget of his department. 

After some planning, the supply chain course took place a couple of weeks ago. For six days Latifa was virtually sitting and learning together with supply chain professionals from big companies around the world. “The initial feeling was I don’t belong here. It was intense. But as I was sitting in the course, I realized that the others also just wanted to learn something. They want to add value to their company, just like me.”, Latifa explains. The course covered topics such as developing a supply chain strategy or how to manage business relationships. 

“The only career limitation is yourself”

The final exam which Latifa is planning to take at the end of February? will conclude the course. But for Latifa, this is only the beginning. She sees her career as a life-long learning process and wants to take on other courses to learn more about the ever-changing supply chain area. Working for Cowtribe, on the other hand, is something Latifa wants to do for a longer time, and which offers her the opportunity to grow. To her, Cowtribe is a company which is really making an impact, a company with a hands-on mentality where every team member pitches in. She shares: “I got the chance to try out different roles and it made me realize that the only career limitation is yourself”. Latifa can’t tell yet how her career at Cowtribe will exactly look in the future. But one thing is certain: When Latifa passes the final exam, she will be the first person in Ghana with this kind of certificate. 

The partnership between Cowtribe and Boehringer Ingelheim 

Cowtribe Inc. is a start-up company in Ghana with the aim to support smallholder farmers in rural areas to guarantee accessibility around animal health issues. They provide quality medication and veterinarian service at affordable prices. The founders of Cowtribe, Peter Awin and Alima Bawah, are social entrepreneurs in the network of Making More Health. The partnership between Cowtribe and Boehringer Ingelheim has been in place for a couple of years now. Jan-Cassen Kraus explains: “Our collaboration underwent different levels of support and teamwork. The first level was to help Cowtribe being financially stable so that they have their daily operations working. The second level consisted of being as a sparring partner and help out in different areas. Now, we are in the third level, an empowering level. We want to empower the people at Cowtribe, Latifa and her colleagues, to find the solutions themselves”.