Jul 30, 2021

Encouraging Young People to Get Involved in Agriculture

Self-Help International is working with rural communities and schools in Ghana to increase the growing and consumption of healthy and nutritious foods and to make farming a sustainable business. Self-Help’s Agriculture and Entrepreneur Development (AED) team offers students in upper elementary and junior high school training on agriculture to help young people embrace agriculture. Self-Help works with teachers and students to form agri-business clubs in the schools. Students are then trained and coached to select an agriculture project they are interested in. Self-Help works with the club to help acquire the inputs the students need for their projects. Self-Help staff have seen that the students’ excitement for their projects often has an impact on their family or others in the community. 

14-year-old Micheal and his brother, 11-year-old Akwasi, attend school in Nyamebekyere, a small, rural community in the Ashanti Region in Ghana. They live in a village called Apuayim, just 2 kilometers from their school. They have been part of the Self-Help Agri-Business club at their school since 2019.

One of the projects of the Agri-Business club in Nyamebekyere is to assist with cultivating maize that is used for the School Feeding Program, which is run jointly by Self-Help and the community. Micheal and his brother have been joining and participating in training on the maize plot at their school, which grows Quality Protein Maize using conservation agriculture practices. They have learned a lot from the demonstration at their school.

Michael and his brother have a small plot of land given to them by their father (approx 0.8 acre). They chose to plant maize for the 2021 season, following protocols they had learned and observed during Self-Help’s training at the community demonstration plot. Despite the delayed and unpredictable rains and the late planting, their farm was one of the best in the village. They were the first to harvest fresh corn. They are now telling their friends and family about conservation agriculture and good agricultural practices in order to help their neighbors maximize their yields on their plots as well.

Jul 15, 2021

Saudatu Gets a Second Chance at Doing Business

Saudatu in her shop.
Saudatu in her shop.

45-year-old Saudatu is a mother of six from Beposo, a small community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. She is a business owner and a farmer, and she owns both a cocoa farm and a cattle herd. In 2010, she was introduced to Self-Help International’s micro-credit program by some of her friends in Beposo. Prior to joining the program, she was a shop owner and was doing well.

‘’My friends practically forced me to join the program,” Saudatu said. “My business was doing well before I joined, and they convinced me to attend the micro-credit meetings not for the money but for the training Self-Help provided.”  

“The first training I attended was about savings. I was impressed, but I didn’t pay the training any mind until I started losing everything due to mismanagement,” Saudatu said.

Life became difficult for Saudatu and her family as her debtors started chasing her for money.

“Some of the items in my shop were on credit which I settled after selling, and since I couldn’t settle on time, creditors stopped supplying and demanded their unpaid monies,” Saudatu explained.

Saudatu remembered the training from Self-Help and reached back out to the staff for support. 

“I gathered myself together and approached Self-Help for support. This time, I was eager to go through all of the different business lessons Self-Help provided before I accessed my first loan of GhC 100,” Saudatu said.

 “I started out carrying the few items I could [from] house to house and community to community,” Saudatu continued. “I also improved my savings habit and attempted keeping records of my sales and my profits. It took me more than a year to start selling in my shop again”

As of June 2021, Saudatu’s situation has greatly improved thanks to her attendance at Self-Help’s business development training sessions.

“I always wanted to send my children, especially the girls, to school. When I ran into those problems with the debtors, I thought it was over,” Saudatu said. “But, thanks to Self-Help, one of my girls just completed nursing school and two others have also completed Senior High School and are awaiting their results.”

“I have been raising cattle for some time now, and I have started selling some in preparation towards the girls’ college education,” Saudatu said. “ I  also started a cocoa farm that has started producing pods. The list is never ending and as you can see now, my shop is full again!”

There are other women like Saudatu who are in need of guidance on how to manage and sustain their businesses, to venture into new markets, and to manage their loans and save effectively. We are grateful for your continuous support of our programs and activities. Let’s continue to alleviate hunger by helping people help themselves!

Jul 6, 2021

Yessenia's Sewing Business is Helping Her Work Toward Her Dreams

Yessenia with her sewing machine.
Yessenia with her sewing machine.

42-year-old Yessenia is a friendly and loving woman who enjoys supporting her community, Nueva Jerusalem, Nicaragua. She is a member of the Evangelical Church and oversees the children’s educational program. She lives with her husband and two children - her 12-year-old daughter and her 15-year-old son. Yessenia’s children are in high school, and her greatest wish is that her son becomes an agronomist and her daughter becomes a nurse. 

When Yessenia was growing up, she was unable to attend school. When she got married, she became an assistant to a neighboring seamstress.  Yessenia didn’t know how to read, but she was able to learn empirically using cord measurements. She used the experience to start making clothes for men, women, and girls, including suits, wedding dresses, uniforms, pants, skirts, and dresses. 

Yessenia’s neighbor invited her to participate in Self-Help’s Women’s Empowerment Program, and. Yessenia enjoyed the first meeting so much that she decided to continue attending the training sessions. At first, she was worried it would be difficult to participate because she did not know how to read or write, but she was so motivated that she continued attending. 

Yessenia decided to use her experience and turn a portion of her home into a space where she could teach women how to sew. She hoped to create a sewing workshop that would help many women work and support their families. 

She wrote a business plan in which she asked Self-Help for a loan to purchase materials and fabrics of different colors and styles. The loan motivated her to continue working to support her fellow community members and to continue providing a quality, affordable service for her clients. 

One of Yessenia’s hobbies is to plant vegetables in her small home garden, including cabbage, cilantro, mint, chillies, oranges, lemons, guava, melons, tomatoes, carrots, and bananas. She keeps her plants hanging on the wall or sitting on shelves so that her chickens can’t eat them. She only grows enough to consume at home with her family.

Yessenia’s desire to change her life makes her feel like a completely new woman. She’s no longer afraid to participate in training sessions. She reports that her business has improved since entering the program, especially with new and different fabrics which she now uses to make curtains, blankets, and skirts. 

Yessenia also learned about self-esteem from the training sessions, which has made her feel empowered. In addition, she meets women from various communities at the training sessions, which has helped her attract more clients. With her profits, she is investing in studies for her children to send them to university. Her children also support her in her sewing, which is helping support their future. Yessenia appreciates Self-Help for the support provided to women with limited resources.

Yessenia and her garden.
Yessenia and her garden.
Yessenia's plants.
Yessenia's plants.
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