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Jul 17, 2019

Gifty Discovers Multiple Benefits in the Micro-Credit Program

Gifty.
Gifty.

Photographs by Dela Aniwa (except for the one of the house). Instagram link below.

 

Global Giving's July Bonus Day is tomorrow starting at 9:00 AM ET. Global Giving is offering $250,000 in matching funds on donations over $100 until 11:59 PM or until matching funds run out. Details and terms and conditions can be found in the link below!

Gifty is 35 years old, and she farms rice and runs a small business selling kenkey (a local staple food prepared from corn). She lives in Adankwame, a small community in the Ashanti Region of Ghana with her husband, Elijah, and their five beautiful children.

Gifty learned about Self-Help International’s micro-credit program in 2016. Other women in Adankwame had shared with her how beneficial the program had been for their families and businesses. She was already selling kenkey to the residents of Adankwame and assisting her husband in their rice farming business, so she joined the micro-credit program seeking to invest in her kenkey business.

“Due to the seasonal nature of rice farming here in Ghana, my family mostly depends on the income I make from my kenkey business, especially during the farming off-season,” Gifty said. 

“Access to loans from financial institutions are very difficult to get, especially for us in the rural areas; so, I was excited when I was introduced to and accepted into the micro-credit program and able to access loans with very flexible terms,” Gifty said.

Although she joined the micro-credit program to access loans to invest in her kenkey business, Gifty’s business acumen quickly maximized the benefits of the additional money. 

“I have been able to invest in our rice farming business by purchasing nets, which we use to cover our rice farms when the grains begin to develop,” Gifty said. “This prevents losing some of the yield to birds eating the grains and damaging the crops.”

With the additional flexibility in how she can utilize her revenue, Gifty has also been able to make some upgrades in their house. She got their house wired for electricity, completed the roofing, and built a household latrine.

“Most houses in my community do not have latrines, so a lot of the residents are charged money to use the public latrine. When someone isn’t able to access the public latrine because they don’t have the money or it is too late in the night, they are likely to use the bushes,” Gifty said.

“After attending a training organized by Self-Help about good sanitation and proper hygiene, I realized how important owning a latrine is in promoting hygiene in my home. That is why I decided to build a latrine,” Gifty said.

Gifty expressed her gratitude to the organization and the women’s empowerment team for the help the staff provides women - from financial assistance to training and advisory services. Through the continued support of the micro-credit program, Gifty is able to continue earning enough income to work on completing her family’s house. In addition, she has been able to expand her businesses to make enough money to help pay for her children’s educations.

Global Giving's July Bonus Day is tomorrow starting at 9:00 AM ET. Global Giving is offering $250,000 in matching funds on donations over $100 until 11:59 PM or until matching funds run out. Details and terms and conditions can be found in the link below!

Gifty.
Gifty.
Gifty at a women's empowerment training.
Gifty at a women's empowerment training.
Gifty's home.
Gifty's home.

Links:

Jul 5, 2019

Improving Agriculture to Fight Hunger and Malnutrition

Farmers with their new sheller.
Farmers with their new sheller.

Global Giving's July Bonus Day is at 9:00 AM ET on Thursday, July 18, 2019. Global Giving is offering $250,000 in matching funds on donations over $100 until 11:59 PM or until matching funds run out. Details and terms and conditions can be found in the link below! 

In keeping with our mission to "eradicate hunger and malnutrition in all its forms," we at Self-Help International are working hard to find new methods to increase corn yields for small farmers in Nicaragua, to ensure greater quality and quantity of food, and increase spendable income for their families. 

Certified Seed

A dedicated group of progressive farmers have collaborated with Self-Help International this year to produce about 50,000 pounds of certified high protein seed corn (QPM) of the variety INTA-Nutrader. They are members of three cooperatives, Coope-Ochomogo RL, Coopemel RL, and Coope-San Marcos and San Lucas RL.

The seed corn is being processed at the seed conditioning plant of INTA-CNIAB (Ministry of Agriculture) in Managua. Next it will be certified by the Institute of Agricultural Protection and Health of Nicaragua (IPSA) and the International Regional Organization for Agricultural Security (OIRSA)

Once the seed is certified as viable and pure it will be marketed through 22 agri-service input suppliers in various regions of Nicaragua. This will allow some two thousand small farmers to plant at least one manzana (1.7 acres) of high-protein corn in the upcoming season.

Seed-producing families are rewarded for their hard efforts with increased production and a higher selling price for their corn.  The women in the families have well-defined roles in the corn production process. They use the immature ears of corn for family consumption, and help collect the ears at the end of the harvest.  In the first seventy days of the season, when the early corn is still tender, the women use their culinary knowledge to prepare atoles, tamales, tortillas, etc. from the chilotes.  The higher protein content of the Nutrader seed helps improve the families’ nutritional status.

Demonstration Plots

Demonstrating improved production technologies is a priority for Self-Help. About 450 farmers will each receive a small portion of certified QPM seed corn to establish a demonstration plot of about four hundred square meters. On these small plots a series of experiments will be carried out, the object of which will be to demonstrate good agronomic management throughout the different growth stages of the corn.  This will help the farmers learn how to deal with the effects of climate, including drought, heat and erratic rainfall. 

Farmers who participate in training events held at the demonstration plots receive new technical knowledge to apply to their own crops.  The traditional ways of corn production and the double-row techniques will be put to the test, and yields will be compared. On some plots organic fertilizers will be used, while others will receive commercial fertilizer.

Shelling the Corn

Shelling corn by hand uses the labor of the whole family, including the women. This is a very time-consuming and fatiguing task.  This summer six farmers received new corn shellers with a gasoline engines, with a capacity to shell twenty-five bushels of corn per hour. Self-Help International agreed to providing training, technical assistance and the delivery of this equipment, with the cost to be repaid in two harvests. The farmers will not only use the machines to shell their own corn, they will offer a service to the community by allowing other farmers to use the shellers for a nominal charge. 

Storage of Crops

Another priority is the safe storage of grain. The adoption of storage facilities such as silos and air-tight barrels is key to the family's food security, because it allows them to keep their corn free of mold and insects.  This summer two more farmers bought silos (steel barrels) with a capacity of eighty bushels each for storage of corn. This allows the women in the family to use the grains for feeding chickens, pigs, and other small animals for home consumption and selling in the markets. In addition, storing grain allows the farmers to wait and sell it at a better price, increasing their income. 

The QPM program seeks to strengthen the ability of farmers to produce better crops and make their businesses more efficient. Self-Help International is proud to support farmers who are eager to improve themselves.  They have made the decision to make changes in their way of working the land and cultivating corn, by using improved technology. They lead by example with their ability to transmit their knowledge to other farmers in their communities.  This raises their self-esteem and gives them the courage to undertake new challenges.

Global Giving's July Bonus Day starts at 9:00 AM ET on Thursday, July 18, 2019. Global Giving is offering $250,000 in matching funds on donations over $100 until 11:59 PM or until matching funds run out. Details and terms and conditions can be found in the link below! Make a gift to your favorite project on Thursday morning and get it matched!

 

Farmers and QPM seed.
Farmers and QPM seed.
Co-op member, Ariel, in his maize field.
Co-op member, Ariel, in his maize field.

Links:

Jun 20, 2019

Adriana is Turning Dreams into Reality

Adriana smiling in her kitchen.
Adriana smiling in her kitchen.

Adriana is a 51-year-old small business owner and single mother of five from the community of Las Azucenas, Nicaragua. Adriana’s high school daughter helps her prepare fresh, natural juices for her business, and her youngest child helps her out around the house. I am very proud to have someone like Adriana in our program. She has outstanding participation, helps her team, and has big dreams for improving her life. She is a very hard-working woman, homemaker, and business owner.

Since 2015, Adriana has been part of various community groups of women participating in Self-Help International's micro-credit program that have changed over time. Since joining the Self-Help micro-credit program, Adriana’s goals and ideas have evolved. First, she wanted an oven to be able to make bread, pastries, cakes, and pizza. Through her own efforts and by working with our program, she managed to build a kitchen that she didn't have before.

With our training program, Adriana learned to save $200 and is operating her own loan plan from her piggy bank. Whatever she takes from her savings, she puts back into her piggy bank with 10% interest. Her savings come from selling her pastries on the bus, at the health center, and at the Ministry of Education.

Adriana’s truly a pioneer, and she’s usually on her feet at the crack of dawn to sell her product. At 9 a.m. you can find her at the park selling her enchiladas, tacos, and natural juices. She is very charismatic and is known as the woman with her apron always on. Participating in the different trainings offered by Self-Help over the years has allowed Adriana to have a vision for her business, save money, and invest little by little in the re-construction and expansion of her kitchen. She’s bought crockery, tables, chairs, tablecloths, kitchen utensils, etc.

Adriana invested her savings in purchasing an improved oven. She changed out her wood stove for a gas stove with an oven, which reduced her exposure to smoke pollution that was harmful to her health. She was also able to construct a bathroom and toilet inside her house. All of these things have helped her get ahead in preparing her fast food menu - tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sandwiches, hamburgers, soft drinks, etc. Adriana’s kitchen is evolving, and the improvements to her home are helping her achieve her dreams

Adriana is one of six women who graduated from the course of micro-entrepreneurs with more than 50 hours of coursework on finances, marketing, and business. She studied every lesson in the manual, which helped her make her own business plan. In Adriana's business plan, we discovered that her dream is to transform her humble home into a restaurant and to offer her delicious dishes to all travelers. That dream will hopefully come true with the help of Self-Help International. She is grateful for all the support that we’ve provided, and she has started construction on her restaurant. She is going to name her restaurant, “Genesis,” after her daughter.

Adriana with her many baked goods.
Adriana with her many baked goods.
Adriana hard at work.
Adriana hard at work.
Adriana's improved oven.
Adriana's improved oven.
 
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