Winrock International

Winrock International is a nonprofit organization that works with people in the United States and around the world to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources. Winrock matches innovative approaches in agriculture, natural resources management, clean energy and leadership development with the unique needs of its partners. By linking local individuals and communities with new ideas and technology, Winrock is increasing long-term productivity, equity and responsible resource management to benefit the poor and disadvantaged of the world.
Feb 12, 2016

Art From The Heart

Ribbon cutting for Brush & Canvas, Sept. 2015
Ribbon cutting for Brush & Canvas, Sept. 2015

Brush & Canvas started from a dream and a prayer and grew into a new downtown business in South Arkansas, owned by Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC) client Christina. After a series of challenging life events like recovering from a disappointing educational experience, divorce, and unfulfilling career, Christina decided to pursue her passion with a “go big or go home” attitude. Art was an extracurricular activity Christina’s whole life, as well as for her children. While raising her daughter, who now has an art degree, she would make road trips to buy art supplies or order them online. One day, Christina saw a window of opportunity. She realized the small but growing town of El Dorado needed an art supply store and a place for novices to come and be introduced to the world of art.  

Upon deciding to launch a new business and having no retail or business ownership experience, Christina reached out to the AWBC for assistance. Christina was looking for direction on how to get started, what the process is, how she should file as a business, and what the viability of a store like hers in El Dorado would be. The many homework assignments from AWBC business counselor John Riggins made Christina feel like she had entered college again. But she was grateful to learn how to project cash flow, analyze feasibility, and other helpful tools. Christina mentioned “I didn’t have support like us letting me know I could do it and was so appreciative of the positive reinforcement.”  Together, the AWBC and Christina developed a solid business plan, and that reassured her that the art supply store could be a successful retail operation. The business plan also helped secure  loan from a local bank, which was crucial for starting her business. Christina shared this February “I left the AWBC with realistic expectations about how things could turn out for me and my art store and that has really helped me in the beginning months of opening the store.”  

After Brush & Canvas opened its doors in September, 2015, John Riggins continued to counsel Christina, and assist the store with its events and marketing efforts. When asked about how much profit the events generated compared to retail, Christina said “Had I stuck with retail supplies alone, I would not have made it.” In the first six months, Brush & Canvas expanded their services to include art workshops with various mediums, private parties, groups painting classes, character building workshops, and other fun events. The biggest challenge now is finding cost effective marketing. With continued support from AWBC, we look forward to watching and helping Brush & Canvas grow into a successful operation!

Jan 11, 2016

New year brings more scholars, plans for expansion

New year brings more scholars and big plans for expansion

 

The Christopher Dowswell Scholarship Program is kicking off 2016 with some exciting news!

We are happy to announce that we have selected 17 new students to join the scholarship program. This means we are nearly doubling the total number of scholars. We are particularly pleased to see an increase in the number of women pursuing their diplomas in Mali, where the program now supports 17 female mid-career scholars.

All the women have expressed their gratitude, some saying they are pleased to see they are finally being offered the same opportunities as men.

The scholarship program now plans to expand to Tanzania, where it will offer BSc scholarships in Agricultural Extension at Sokoine Agricultural University.

Your donations have made our success possible, and will allow the scholarship to expand its reach in 2016. We appreciate your continued support.

Thank you.

Jan 7, 2016

PTAs Trained to Achieve Greater Impact in Schools

Joice - PTA Member, Terekeka, CES
Joice - PTA Member, Terekeka, CES

As a member of the Terekeka Primary School Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) in Central Equatoria state (CES) in South Sudan, Joice, 35, had long felt that the community and local parents should be making greater efforts to ensure more primary-level children were attending regular classes. As a widow and mother of eight, Joice understands the complexities of educating the young, especially girls, in South Sudan and felt that their PTA group had long been ill-equipped to address or resolve these issues.

“As a member of the PTA and of this community, I would often see young children loitering around the village. As a PTA group, we didn’t really know how to mobilize ourselves, how to work together to lobby parents, tribal leaders, or government to start to address these fundamental problems.”

In October 2015, RtL provided the Terekeka Primary School PTA with training on how to mobilize themselves and their school. The training also focused on how to work together, with teachers, parents, and with government structures to improve education opportunities children in their community. The program has changed Joice’s - and her fellow PTA members - entire attitude. They have come to understand the magnitude of the responsibility they hold within the community and they have now realize that they have the capacity to ensure positive change.

“If I see a child in the street I will immediately find out who the parents are and ensure that they are taken to the tribal chief to explain why their child is not in school. ” she says. “So many parents did not even know that the government schools are free! We are now working closely with the tribal leaders, parents and the school to ensure the local children have access to the education they need and deserve.”

RtL, funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International in partnership with FHI 360 and Plan International USA, aims to reach 388 PTAs across South Sudan with capacity building training in 2016. This training will enable communities to advocate for improved education and attendance in their school communities.

We want to thank you for your continued support which enables us to expand our impact in each school community we enter in South Sudan!

Schoolgirls pose for a picture at school in CES
Schoolgirls pose for a picture at school in CES
 
   

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