Dear Family of Reach Out,
We’ve closed a phase in Tole this month. After continuous follow up and collecting loan payments we had enough information to disburse grants to the best performing girls, and to a few of the most vulnerable. In total 10 girls received grants of different sizes (between 100 and 30) past week.
The disbursement event was a great experience, we took the opportunity that all girls where gathered in one place to work on their self-confidence with a very simple exercise, they should tell us their stories and share advice with their fellow business women. We were impressed with the result.
“Every day, no matter how the business goes, I save 2000 francs, if I make 5000 I keep 2000, if I make 2100 I keep 2000 and I struggle to eat. At the end of the Month I split it in half, half for the house half of the business” Claudine. (Remember we told you in the last report that she had just lost almost all her capital because of a terrible sickness that almost killed her for more than three months? She is back on her feet and continues to impress us.)
“Do your bookkeeping, play your Njangi or your Achao, save something every day, and never use your capital” Comfort. We could not have said it better. (Note: Njangi and Achao are different kinds of local saving practices)
And there were some praises also, that we should extend to you as you are also Reach Out.
“Long live at prosperity to Reach Out, they did not abandon us when we failed, and now we are moving” Mba, member of Unity Sisters
“Thanks to the money Reach Out gave me I could start a business and from there use the profits to pay for my education, I just finished my exams and I hope next year I can make it to University” Marie
“Thank you plenty. All of you know me. I don’t have a man, I don’t have family in this village, but I have Reach Out” Suzanne
Moreover, the ceremony was the first attended by His Royal Highness the Chief of Tole, just freshly crowned the day before. A young but bright man you can see in the pictures. He gave us reason to have hope for this country. After listening to the girls he made his speech and decided to make his own donation! We have high hopes that we can create a long lasting relationship with the Palace; we cannot emphasize how rare such attitude is. In fact, the usual thing is Cameroon is that the authority should receive a small fee himself to cover “transport” cost of attending the event; he ignored protocol and tradition and saw the opportunity to do something valuable for his community, giving insted of taking.
Many members of Reach Out’s family will remember Florence, the blind mother of 4 living in Tole, for whom we fundraised for past year. We are very glad to report a good improvement pace, the whole family showing strong signals of entrepreneurial spirit, managing together different micro businesses. We are particularly proud of Melanie, the elder daughter, who keeps the books of their different small businesses. Reach Out, thanks to our donors, is supporting them this time with help to construct a little built structure where they can be selling cooked food. You can see a picture of her during follow up and another one of Reach Out’s team, including our logistician, negotiating and discussing with the construction team.
What are we seeing in the future? We are moving to the next batch of girls in Tole and we are also exploring doing interventions in new rural communities where we can replicate our model, as always, relying on local groups when possible.
But if there is someone that we will continue to rely on to make this happen is you.
Thank you, thank you for not giving up, thank you for the lives you continue to change.
P.D: Please tell us what you think about the Keep a Girl Alive and much more! Continue engaged with us through facebook. www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon
These last months had brought some hard to face news, and we don’t want to hide them from you. Claudine, the star of our program, main picture in the globalgiving page, fell seriously sick, her legs were paralyzed, the saloon was closed for months and all her efforts and progress seemed to be washed down by the difficulties of life. Luckily a few weeks ago she could re-open again, in a new location; we will soon re-assess the situation.
This is the time where we will start collecting the loans back from the newest group of girls in Tole after a three months period of grace. We have charged this task upon them. Mercy, one of the beneficiaries, is relied to be collecting the money for us. We did not need to remind them, in fact we have been receiving calls from them (Mae, portrayed in the last report, called myself personally) asking us when were we coming to collect.
Our team also met with the Adult Literacy students in Buea Town and Bumaka, the classes are targeted for the Muslim community as it is normal among the Mbororo ethnicity that women remain illiterate. We had been asked to try and come out with a fundraise strategy for the program, as it has been running for a lot of time but due to donor withdrawal even the transport costs of the volunteers were in danger. It was then that the idea of joining both programs came together. Most of the girls that meet every Monday and Wednesday to learn how to write, read and even speak English would qualify for one of our grants. Actually the platform of weekly classes will allow us to keep better track on their business management and bookkeeping skills, their proven capacity for hard work and progress is also inspiring to work with. So the partnership between these two programs seemed only natural.
I want to close with another Mercy, this one from Bakweri Town,he started selling “pot” (that is selling little pieces of meat with spices on a cooking pot and going around the street selling them for 50CFA, 10 cent of dollar, a piece). She is one of our last beneficiaries and she is supporting her family on her own, paying for her sister's education and the needs of her child, only with the proceeds from the business. She has a keen eye for business, a good recipe and the determination to be walking all day, holding the pot on her head. She has been making consistent profit (around 3000 francs a day, 6 dollars, of profit, overall sales being 30, at 10 cents a piece!). Her next step will be a fridge that will protect her from the fluctuating prices of meat, improving her profits by around 2 dollars a day.
So this is the next step, giving her and a selected group of girls like her the tools for a big leap towards the end of poverty. We know that you will continue to be with them along the journey.
Thank you again, so many times we are being thanked by the girls and we know that it’s to you that they should be thankful. We explain then that it is not thanks to us, but to normal people like them with better opportunities and a great heart, that help came through.
We have to add also that today is Bonus Day and any donation to this project will be matched by Globalgiving by 30%, you have given so much, we can only ask you to consider sharing this information among friends and family, as we know you care about the project and the girls.
P.D: Reports for the microprojects related to this project have also been published, you can find them here:
Hairdressing with Becky and Itsa: http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-two-hair-saloons-with-itsa-and-becky/
Tailoring with Aba: http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-a-tailoring-business-with-aba/
It's 2015 already and we celebrate it with more news from the field and eternal gratitude for the almost 300 donations received over time.As scheduled, we had a baking workshop and a business management workshop in early October, the disbursement of funds took place at the middle of the month for 21 new girls in two different locations . During both ceremonies we were privileged with the presence of Madam Justine, an experienced business owner and community leader in Tole (treasurer of Charity Sisters, one of our oldest groups of beneficiaries) her advice to the girls was invaluable. She talked about topics such as best business ventures to pursue, bookeeping, and the importance of cutting personal expenses, as she put it: "If you or your 'pikin' only have two dresses you clean one every day, but you don't touch the money from the business". She stayed long after the ceremony chatting and sharing her opinions with them.How are the girls doing now? We have conducted follow-up meetings at random and the results are quite good, all interviewees reported more profit than in prior editions of the program, above the average of similar businesses according to our database. An interest fact when you consider that the individual funds disbursed were smaller than in prior editions (Because we want to disburse in two phases, an initial one to launch the business and a second one to give additional pushes to those proven worthy of it).The numbers? We can say, roughly, that Mae (Gateau Business) is having 10 dollars a week worth of profit, and Itoe (selling phone credit) 12, it might not look like much but it is: Considering cost of living in their communities, such revenues do improve substantially their quality of life. But more important, their capital was only 64 dollars, a figure they have already surpassed! Your money was well invested on them.We saw Mae by chance just two days after the ceremony, as we were meeting someone else in Tole, and she surprised us with her diligence, she was already having a fully functional Gateau bussiness, and she brought some to try!Itoe's case is also extraordinary, you must consider that phone credit has very low return on capital, to achieve the kind of revenue that she is managing, she must sell to an average of more than 240 people in one week! On an economically depressed community. We have advised her, and she had it in mind already, to complement the credit with other products with higher value added and we hope her revenues will increase even more in the future.Not everything is perfect, the follow up showed that we still find it difficult for most girls to follow our advice on bookkeeping and we will work on how to improve the coaching sessions and materials, and make them more useful to their situation. We know that many of our donors are experienced in the field of development, and as always we will welcome any input on this or other issues of the program coming from you.These past months we have also been using globalgiving microprojects, we use the tool to select and give extra assistance to those individuals that present extreme vulnerability or special potential for economic development (very often both). This is how we chose Aba(https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-a-tailoring-business-with-aba/) to support her future tailoring shop, and Itsa and Becky (https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-two-hair-saloons-with-itsa-and-becky/), for hairdressing ventures.These are excellent news, but we must ensure the sustainability of the main project, the one that allow us to identify such cases in the first place, and we are looking for additional sources of revenue to make the program stronger and more consistent over time, in order to keep changing more and more lives. Because of this Reach Out is both trying to expand and put in place economic ventures that employ the vulnerable and finance the program (such as REO’s piggery) and to find institutions that could act as additional benefactors for it. We are absolutely sure the investment is worth it.We hope the start of the year was great for you and that you know that for many of the girls it was you who made it to be great.Thank you.
Dear Donors of the Keep a Girl Alive (KGA) program and friends of Reach Out
We have been doing good progress this last month and we are setting up our program for the end of the year. During past weeks we identified and did social inquiry for more than 60 girls, most of them are strong candidates to receive our help but only the 20 most hard cases will be receiving small grants during the first step of this next phase. This time we will expect half of the money slowly back and with that and new donations we hope to be able to support all of them by the end of the year. This expansion of the program is all thanks to you and without you we could not go further.
This Thursday we are doing a workshop on chin-chin, puff puff and banana cake (local pastries), as it was the most requested by the girls, and we are inviting also some old beneficiaries who have an expressed interest in learning the trade, Vastina and Stephanie might find it a nice way to complement their callbox business and market trading. We will upload pictures after the workshop.
During this identification we are seeing a lot of 1-room-1-bed-households with more than 7 people of all ages, a lot of responses like "we manage" when asked about toilet and kitchen, a lot of early pregnancy. We are also seeing some inspiring young women who are already taking care of their families and some good business ideas we are excited to be supporting:
Hilda has a humble restaurant in Tole and she wants to start offering new dishes that cannot be seen around and have more space since the place is usually full. Eveline sells roasted fish in Longstreet, close to Tole but inside of the city of Buea. Suzanne wants to start selling garri (grinded casava, basic in African cousine) since she knows where to find it for a cheap price and feels that demand is not properly supplied in Tole. It is sad that some of them can't be supported right away since other more desperate situations are taking preference.
We hope that the sorting out it is only temporary and eventually we can help them all.
We have seen two small successes with two microprojects that grew from this parent project, the cases for Thelma (6) and Favor (5), small daughters of our beneficiaries. The first could go to Buea School of the Deaf after being identified and her project funded and the second is receiving full financial support for fighting cancer, since she has been living with a lymphoma in her jaw. We are proud of these small victories and we are trying to push it further for Florence, a blind women who is a single mother of 4 and now part of the program with her daughter, who is 15 but will be part of it as long as she keeps with her studies. (http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/support-florence-struggle/)
Today, 15th of October, from 9.00 to 23.59 EDT, globalgiving gives a 30% extra for every donation (up to 1000$ per donor per project). And it is a great opportunity for securing the program and making sure we will be able to make the strong push that could really change the situation in Tole. You can find the hour in your time zone here http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=October+Bonus+Day&iso=20141015T09&p1=263
And you can share the project in facebook and twitter through the icons you will find bellow. Funds are limited so don't wait for the last minute or the bonus might be lost!
Thank you for changing their lives, they will not disappoint you. We will do our best to keep up to the responsibility
P.D: If you want to see the reports and pictures of funded microprojects:
Dear donors of the KGA project,
A lot has been happening since our last report.
We provided small grants to the latest small group of girls based in Tole. Claudine could get a very nice hair dryer and her hair-dressing saloon is improving every day, Comfort is having both a palm wine bar and a table shop business that she manages at the same time and we also gave a second chance to Glory, because she just gave birth to twins when she started in the program and could not cope with that(and the costs involved) and starting a new business. She is now selling Gateau, a kind of sweet bread typical of Cameroon, and we check up on her regularly.
We have been following up with them and also other, interviewing and assisting young women in Bakwery town, Bumaka and of course Tole.
Just checking on their bookkeeping and listening to their business ideas have made some of them progress a lot, and we keep learning from them. It is exciting to see how they sustain their families and dream of bigger enterprises. This kind of practice helps open them up and help us get a better picture of their situation. Also sometimes they bring new problems to us.
This is how we got to know about Thelma case, the deaf daughter of one of our beneficiaries, who was not learning sign language nor going to any kind of school. We could address this problem before she is too old; she finally started receiving an education in an adequate school. We made a small micro project about it in globalgiving (http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/send-thelma-to-school/), because Thelma is at school for a period of grace conceded to us by Buea School of the Deaf, but we still have to find sponsors for her. Anyway you can say that it is thanks to all of you that that girl has discovered and given an opportunity to grow, so be proud.
Last 15th of July Bonus Day was a success thanks to our donors and we received 2990$. Adding to that a fundraising campaign took place during the month of August that reported additional 1378$. That was thanks to Melanie Harbinson, former volunteer of Reach Out. None of this money is yet in Reach Out office, and we are still planning on how we will spend it, but we will do it slowly since we can’t count on such two extraordinary events to keep happening so often.
Next steps include slowly and carefully augmenting the number of girls reached out by the program, and small trainings on income generating activities, according to the needs of both old and new beneficiaries.
Thank you for all that you have done for them.
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South West Region,
South West Region