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Jun 16, 2020

Like Mother, Like Daughter - Inspiring the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

Genesis with her mangoes.
Genesis with her mangoes.

Adriana is a long-time beneficiary of Self-Help International, and she is famous in the Women’s Empowerment Program for being an excellent saver. She saves extra coins in a metal pail, and she is so dedicated that if she ever takes money out of her savings pail, she forces herself to charge herself interest. She must repay the pail in full, with 10% interest, in order to allow herself to use those savings. 

Adriana manages to run her business and raise her daughter as a single mother. Her daughter, Genesis, is 14 years old. Four years ago, Adriana encouraged Genesis to get involved in Self-Help’s youth-serving program in which children received broiler chicks and experimented feeding the chicks Quality Protein Maize (QPM). Ultimately, they concluded that the chicks fed QPM weighed more than those fed traditional maize and generated more profits.

Genesis says this experience was unforgettable and highly motivating. She remembers that when it came time to sell her QPM-fed chicken she made 190 cordobas (about $5.58 USD). She followed her mother’s lead in savings and set her money aside. One day, she asked her mom for a pair of sandals, which cost 300 cordobas ($8.81 USD), but Adriana told her daughter that the sandals were too expensive and that she couldn’t buy them. Inspired by her own mother’s entrepreneurship and what she’d learned from her broiler experiment with Self-Help, Genesis decided she would work to get the rest of the money to buy the sandals. 

Trucks commonly pass through rural communities in Nicaragua selling different types of food, and one day a truck selling vegetables passed by Genesis and Adriana’s house. Using her savings from the broiler chick project, Genesis bought 2 large watermelons at 80 cordobas ($2.35 USD) each to start her business. Witnessing her daughter’s budding entrepreneurship, Adriana helped Genesis cut each watermelon into 10 pieces. Genesis took the 20 pieces of watermelon with her to school, and sold each piece at 10 cordobas ($0.29 USD), garnering a net profit of 20 cordobas ($0.59 USD). 

This is how Genesis started her business, and by the time watermelon season was over, she had managed to save 300 cordobas - enough to buy the sandals she wanted. Once mango season started, Genesis went to her grandmother’s house where there is a mango tree in the yard. Her grandmother cuts down the mangos, and Adriana helps her peel them. Now in high school, Genesis brings 10 baggies of cut and peeled mango with her to school which she sells to her classmates at 10 cordobas per baggie. 

With her earnings, Genesis buys notebooks, pencils, and other school supplies. She tells us that she learned to save through Self-Help. Genesis is also very proud of her mother who, despite not having much and being a single mom, has always remained inspired to get ahead and provide her daughter the best life possible. 

Genesis' dream is to become a pediatric doctor or a systems engineer. Her current goal is to continue saving so that once she goes to university she’ll be able to help her mother financially. She hopes that once she’s completed university and entered a professional career, she’ll be able to give back to her mom - she wants to build Adriana a nice little house with chickens and a puppy.

Jun 8, 2020

The Graduate Entrepreneurship Program has Given Me the Skills to Help Other Farmers

Eva managing the poultry.
Eva managing the poultry.

This report was written by Eva Azuure, a member of the 2019/2020 Graduate Entrepreneurship Program (GEP). Read the original story about her poultry business here.

Poultry farming is one of the most profitable and popular agribusiness ventures  in Ghana. The demand for chickens and eggs is very high, which makes this business one of the best for aspiring agripreneurs. In the 1960s, the Ghanaian government identified poultry production as having the greatest potential for addressing the shortage in both sources of animal protein and jobs.

It is very clear that poultry farming is a viable business venture in the Atwima Nwabiagya Municipality where the Self-Help International Young Adult Training Center is located. This is because poultry farmers in the area have been around for a long time making profits despite the amount of competition that exists.

I can see that the training center carefully considered whether to train entrepreneurs in poultry production as a business venture. I am very delighted for the opportunity I’ve gotten to implement my proposed poultry project as a GEP participant. In fact, it has been an experience of a lifetime and has helped build my capacity in the sector. 

This experience has already started yielding good results through the work I’m doing with EggVille farm in the Afoase Kokobeng district of Kumasi.

I was introduced to EggVille farm by Self-Help Ghana Country Director, Benjamin Kusi. Mr. Kusi thought I could assist EggVille with some challenges they were having on the farm. The farm finished their first production cycle with the highest ever recorded egg production rate: 70%.  As of this report (early April 2020), the second production cycle was in progress with 9,000 birds, an 8% mortality rate, and an egg production rate of 54%. 

When assessing EggVille’s egg production, I used what I learned about poultry broiler production at Self-Help’s training center and received support from Self-Help’s Agriculture & Entrepreneurship Program (AED) staff. I identified the following problems in EggVille’s production: poor litter management, poor feeding management, improper recordkeeping, inadequate water for the birds, and poor disease management.

To address these problems, I sought expert advice from Self-Help’s AED staff and other professionals, such as Dr. Jacob Hamidu, a lecturer from the Animal Sciences Department of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). I advised EggVille to undertake the following actions to help increase production: changing the cages’ litter when necessary; cleaning the poultry feeders and drinkers daily; properly recording the eggs, including both cracked and abnormal eggs; and administering antibiotics to help boost the birds’ immune systems.

The interventions taken have yielded positive results - production has increased sharply from 54% to 82%.

In response to my work, EggVille’s owner told Mr. Kusi, “I just want to say a big thank you to Self-Help’s team for introducing Eva to us. She’s been so helpful to us. She is very dedicated, detailed-oriented, and innovative, and we can’t thank her enough.”

Eva looking at a chicken.
Eva looking at a chicken.
Eva and the chickens.
Eva and the chickens.
Jun 1, 2020

Teaching Girls to Sew Face Masks in the Midst of COVID-19

The Teen Girls Club makes masks!
The Teen Girls Club makes masks!

Self-Help International's Teen Girls Club started in the Ashanti Region of Ghana in 2016 with the purpose of empowering young girls to get a senior high school and college education and to be economically independent in the future. Teen Girls Club members receive academic support from Self-Help, and Self-Help staff work with the girls’ teachers to help the teachers organise extra classes after school for the girls. Sometimes, Self-Help helps supply academic materials they may not be able to access. Self-Help also teaches the girls hands-on skills that will equip them to have more opportunities in their future education or careers.

As part of the skills training, Self-Help staff taught Teen Girls Club how to use needles and thread to do embroidery. Girls are able to use these embroidery skills to mend their uniforms and clothing with minor rips or tears, extending the life of their clothes. 

In March 2020, Teen Girls Club members were suddenly faced with another relevant and important way to put their embroidery skills to use: sewing face masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

In an effort to address the spread of COVID-19 through community transmission, the government in Ghana put in place various safety measures throughout many areas of the country. Travel is limited, group meetings are restricted, and face masks are required when in public. Self-Help, in keeping with its mission to help people to help themselves, worked with the girls to identify skills they already possessed that could help keep them and their families safe. 

The Teen Girls Club coordinators worked with the girls to sew their own masks, using the embroidery skills they had previously learned. The pattern was provided by a seamstress named Sarah, a small business owner in Self-Help’s micro-credit program. Sarah also provided face masks for Self-Help staff to wear. Read all about how Sarah started sewing face masks here.

For Self-Help staff, it was amazing to see the girls in smaller groups practicing social distancing and seriously using their needles and thread to sew their own nose masks. The girls in the club are very grateful to Self-Help because, in spite of the pandemic, they have learned new skills while making face masks. They are now able to make one for themselves, their friends, and their family members.

In addition to making the face masks, Self-Help staff taught the girls proper handwashing techniques and advised the girls to maintain social distancing based on recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ghana Health Service. 

Sewing masks by hand.
Sewing masks by hand.
Sewing masks by hand.
Sewing masks by hand.

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