Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship

by Reach Out Cameroon (REO) Vetted since 2011 Top Ranked Effective Nonprofit Staff Favorite Project of the Month Site Visit Verified
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship
Melvis during market day
Melvis during market day

It was another challenging season for our participants as some of them were at the verge of losing everything due to the Anglophone crisis. Some businesses could not survive the conflict, while some have persevered all throughout this period. Most of the participants had to change their businesses. Overall, the period was not a favorable one as their average profits dropped by roughly 20%. But despite this situation, our participants are still defying all odds and making a living by themselves.

Melvis has been with us since March 2018. She sells fresh vegetables like pepper, onion, okra and tomatoes. She did not move during this year, while the conflict was escalating, but rather stayed back and continued with her business. Despite receiving threats from the military she didn’t want to move. She was accused of being the one feeding the guerilla.

As the conflict grew more and more violent and most people abandoned Tole, (August 2018) her store became one of the few ones in the village. She gained more customers and had to increase her supplies. At the point where the heat began cooling down a bit, Melvis had gained a larger market. During that period she made a profit of 194,700frs (roughly 400$) with a loan of 60,000 francs we gave her during that period. Nobody else would have given her credit in such an area and period, but that’s why your support is so important.

Melvis determination encouraged the rest. Besides the store, she has also created a small bar where she sells the local drink (palm wine). She dedicated a lot of time on both her businesses and while others were scared of investing their money, she took the risk and grew her business to where it is today. She was able to pay back the loan in a period of one month and took another for 120.000frs. She was admired by many. She is focused, push-pull and she is always available for follow-ups and does bookkeeping every day. She desires to see her children being educated and to live a comfortable life some day.

Links:

Disbursement of 2nd and 3rd level grants.
Disbursement of 2nd and 3rd level grants.

Dear donors,

Thank you very much for what you have done so far for us and for the young women participating in the Keep a Girl Alive project.

While the situation all over Anglophone Cameroon is dramatic, with more than 400,000 persons internally displaced and daily casualties, our current project area calmed down a bit in the past two months. With hostilities between the two sides kept to a minimum, most project participants are slowly coming back. We closed the year supporting 43 of them with new business grants. A part of the grant was fixed, another part depended on how much they have saved throughout the year, as a "savings incentive".

These are the impressions of our volunteers and staff:

Sylvie Ebitoh: “So far it has been a challenging moment getting the beneficiaries together. The period has been a testing one for them, but still, most still push through to see that their businesses stay alive. A training on entrepreneurship was carried out, one at Reach Out’s office for those staying in Buea, Tiko and Limbe and one in Tole, in our field office. The program was the following:

  • Refresh Bookkeeping concepts.
  • Discussion on savings and its benefits
  • Business challenges and brainstorming on solutions
  • Drafting basic Business plans
  • Health talk on HIV/AIDS
  • Disbursement of 50.000FRS grants to beneficiaries
  • Disbursement of savings of 2018 plus saving incentives.
  • Recommendations

Levai Pensiga “The training was very educative and interesting for me as a new volunteer. I had the opportunity to interact with young women-at-risk. It was so exciting getting to know new things concerning bookkeeping too, which was something new to me. I could see how they can keep daily records of their income and expenditure. Everyone was amazed when one of the girls (Elizabeth) had a clean, uninterrupted, record of her business from 2016 to the present date. The interaction with the girls showed me that they understand issues of finances, and they are very open-minded. Everyone was very supportive, the collaboration from the participants made me more confident during the training.

The women were very happy with the exercise on savings. It had short lessons about how to save, the importance of saving and the benefits participants can have after saving with Reach Out. Many of the girls could even testify about the benefits of savings. As planned, we shared a pot of about 1,000 $ between all beneficiaries who saved, in a manner proportional to the amounts saved. The best of them was Blandine, who went home with her savings and a substantial grant, altogether almost 300$. When she got the news she almost collapsed out of excitement. Participants went home even more eager to start saving next 2019.”

Atem Akonjang “Since I was introduced to the Keep a Girl Alive project, It has been a wonderful experience. The life experiences shared by the beneficiaries in the field and the level of commitment showed by the girls are very inspiring and motivate one to have a passion for working. Nothing is satisfactory to me like when I see smiles on people’s face which come as a result of capacity building. Working on this project has been a ‘dream come true’.

As of now, the impact of this project can be visibly seen in the lives of its beneficiaries. It will be of great importance if such opportunities could be scaled-up out to other women in more communities, without forgetting the present beneficiaries.”

 

With this, we close 2018, a year where we helped as 123 young women to move out of extreme poverty and create permanent sources of income for themselves. We hope you have an amazing 2019.

Thank you very much.

Marie
Marie
training
training
Nancy
Nancy
training in Buea Office
training in Buea Office
Violet
Violet

Links:

Anna
Anna

 

Dear Donors,

 

As you might know, Cameroon is on the verge of a civil war. As the conflict escalates, our project undergoes major changes.

 

  • More than half of our girls have moved out of Tole, which is a high-risk area right now.

 

  • Some of them have moved out of the South-West Region altogether.

 

  • Of course, all their businesses are affected by the crisis, and they need to come up with new strategies to survive. Some are not succeeding and their profits are quite low.

 

  • It has become dangerous for us to come to Tole to meet regularly with the girls. We apply tight security protocols and stay there for only briefs periods of time.

 

  • Casualties are directly affecting us, and them. Community stakeholders we used to relate with, such as members of the village council, have been assassinated. At least one of our girls lost her life-partner to the indiscriminate shooting.

 

  • We have halted any distribution of grants for now.

 

However,

 

  • Even in this horrible war and climate of continuous displacement, the vast majority of girls are still doing business (85.7%)

 

  • Because the project execution followed the schedule, we had already engaged the 80 new girls we planned to help this year before it became too hot. We just have pending one last round of grants for 40 girls who are doing well after receiving their first grant. This will happen in November, after the high-intensity period of October has passed. (October 1st will commemorate the unification of the two Cameroons. October 7th will see elections in Cameroon. Elections are being boycotted by the separatist forces fighting the government. Major displacement has taken place in the past few days in preparation for the conflict coming to Buea).

 

  • We are able to keep going to the field. The new non-state armed groups are not hostile to us, because the community knows us and respects us. We have been helping their young women for long. We are still in danger of being caught in the crossfire, but we have been able to keep operating.

 

  • We helped 13 internally displaced women who ran away from war and had their houses burnt in July who joint this project. Now in September, we can say we are supporting more than 60 displaced women. More than half of our active girls are currently displaced, but we manage to see them in their current locations or to follow-up through phone calls.

 

So you are also contributing to mitigate this horrible conflict. Thank you, we need all the help we can get. The international community has not yet stepped up and we are trying to slow down something that is way bigger than us.

We are not giving up, and they are not giving up either. Thank you for being there.

Elizabeth sells farming inputs during rainy season
Elizabeth sells farming inputs during rainy season
Julie just relocated, but we keep in touch.
Julie just relocated, but we keep in touch.
Mabel has decided to stay and just be careful
Mabel has decided to stay and just be careful
"Even if it gets hot, I will sell from my house."
"Even if it gets hot, I will sell from my house."
Charity changed business. "My clients have left."
Charity changed business. "My clients have left."

Links:

Since 2012 Reach Out Cameroon has been working with girls aged from 18 to 35 to help them break out of poverty by themselves. This year 2018 we have helped 76 new girls from the village of Tole. From the beneficiaries and Reach Out’s team we would like to thank each one of you, donors, for your support to the program. We have seen a steady increase in beneficiaries and in prosperity.

The girls are monitored and assessed monthly by Reach Out’s team through surveys and their bookkeeping records. The monitoring has helped us keep records of whether the program is working and from what I have experienced being with the team for the shortest time (month) as a volunteer, is nothing short of amazing. The girls have gained experience and are getting confident with every training session we do. They are asking important questions such as “How do we save money?”, which will help them grow and understand business. Their ambitions have changed from unrealistic dreams to some real achievable goals. I had one of the beneficiaries say at the beginning of the training how she wanted a million CFA (about 1,800$) and at the end, she realized that is not reality, what is achievable is sending her children to a better school. The program gives the girls a sense of hope and understanding. It helps them realize they can stand on their own and be more independent.

So personally I would like to thank each one of you donors for what you have accomplished with your kindness and generosity. This is my first time volunteering for a program and I feel this is an amazing and inspiring program as it teaches independence and drives the beneficiaries to have a business mentality which I know is very important. 

The objective of the Project is to improve the girl’s lives through the businesses they start. To take them out of poverty and move forward without restrictions and independently earning their own money.  

My understanding of the programme created by the KGA is to teach the beneficiaries how to use the money wisely, why they should choose a business carefully, how and why they should save money, how they can invest their money correctly and the importance on bookkeeping. Also to teach them how to be responsible for what they do in life. To teach them to be focused, responsible and accountable.

The main objective is to improve their average income of each girl after a period of time (a year).

On Wednesday 20th June 2018, we held a programme in Tole for the new recruit of girls. It was the 3rd batch of girls of the year. The training consisted of bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, savings, business creation, and sexual reproductive health. The training concluded on the Thursday 21st June 2018.

On Friday 22nd June 2018 Reach Out Cameroon distributed to the new girls in the programme a capital of 30,000 CFA grants for their businesses.

1st day (20 June 2018)

  • Introduction
  • Baseline survey
  • Bookkeeping
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Savings (including homework)
  • Business advice
  • Lunch
  • Concluded the 1st days training at 2:30

2nd day (21 June 2018)

  • Homework corrections
  • Revision on bookkeeping
  • Comparing two business
  • Sexual Reproductive Health
  • Lecture from Blanche
  • Business planning
  • Closing remarks
  • Lunch
  • Reminded the girls to meet at the Chief's palace 23 June 2018 to collect their grant

3rd day (22 June 2018)

  • Arrived at the Chief's palace at 9:00
  • Started with an opening prayer
  • Advice from the KGA team
  • Presented the grants to the beneficiaries (the beneficiaries signed for their grants once received)
  • Finished with a group photo

 

Thank you very much for making it possible!

Project participant  (Blanche) teaching new girls
Project participant (Blanche) teaching new girls
Follow-up with Victorine
Follow-up with Victorine
Bookkeeping practical excercise
Bookkeeping practical excercise
Thank you!
Thank you!
Alice
Alice

Dear donors, thank you for being with us. This report is a continuation of the one published last month on a follow-up visit carried out on the 30th of March. Since that day, we have done about 8 of such visits, plus our monthly general catch-up in our field office. I will continue showing you the details of this trip, with some updated data on participants.

From Tole Weeding, where we had met Modestine, we started coming back to the centre of Tole.

We arrived “church street” where we saw Alice and Salome. Alice was one of the youngest girls of this batch, so we were impressed when she had quickly set up a functional business. We met her smoking fish to dry and sell. She explained to us she has a client that purchases her whole batch, so she does not spend time in the market. She has kept stable and made 44 dollars every month after that without any interruption. She was also quick to explain on that day that “not all the fish you see here is mine, only the one down” and we appreciate the honesty. Smoked fish is a very common ingredient in many Cameroonian dishes.

Almost immediately after she received her business grant, Salome fell sick. So at the time of our visit she had not really done anything, we just talked with her and made sure she was OK and had not had to use the money to pay hospital bills. After another week she set up her ground-nut (peanut) business. She buys in bulk and sells in different markets. She put together her savings with your grant and made a purchase of 96$, but she has not yet realized much profit (about 10$ a month). This could still be a bookkeeping error or indicate that she is not really involved in the business and occupies much of her time with other things, such as her new-born baby. We keep working with her to find out what’s the problem.

We moved to the entrance of the village now, to finish our visit with Mbo quarters. There, we met with Lizette, Ako and Chantal. Lizette is doing trading of cocoyams (or Taro) and palm oil. She was very fast, and even though we gave business grants in the 3rd week of March, she closed the month with 47$. Which she maintained in April and later on doubled this May. We met her on the spot while she was moving the cocoyams to the main road, where a customer was waiting.

Ako, at the time of the visit, was still setting up her business. “I’m still arranging my table and getting some advice, I’m new in the village”. Some weeks later, she started selling eru (a local vegetable similar to spinach) in the market. “Now I’m just doing this, but when my child grows a bit I will be selling soup around, food is where the money is. I can’t carry him all over the place, he is too heavy”. She made 28 dollars in April, and 50 in May.

Chantal has set up a little bar, and she was there selling when we met her. Bars are not our preferred choice of business, but we think it’s important to orientate and guide, not to impose. She showed us her business records and she had a common problem that we fixed on the spot. It took a few more visits, but her business records are fine now. She made 39$ in April and 183$ in May, which is great for such a young businesswoman.

We closed our visit going to Jin’s restaurant. Because it was the mid-afternoon, she was not yet there, she cooks in the morning, the brother sells in the afternoon and then she takes the evening shift. We got a chance to taste her soup, which was great. Jin is the best performing participant of this batch and she made 304 dollars in April and 244 in May.

We have two bad news for the end. The last person we met on that day, before going to Jin’s restaurant, was Solange. Solange had not been completely truthful to us and hid the fact that she was working for somebody else. She thought, rightly, that would make her look less vulnerable, and therefore less likely to receive help. We can understand that a young single mother all by herself might be tempted to hide such facts, and when we discovered it, we were not angry. We just explained to her that if she wanted to keep working with us she should not hide information from us, and gave her a warning that hiding more things would mean her removal from the program.

Achuma, another of the girls, was seen but had no business to show yet, and I’m saddened to say that we don’t have any confirmation, two months after, that she is doing any business.

We know there are going to be failures, but the returns are worth the risk we take. It gets paid back, several times. Take all the girls together, the 18 we helped in March, and sum all their recorded profits for the month of April, both the ones that have something to show and the ones that have not. It’s 894$. What was your investment in them? 900$ and a short training. This May they have just made 1163$, so you can see how the effect of your donation multiplies every month.

We have a commitment with you to not edulcorate the truth. Our girls are amazing enough without exaggerating or hiding the few that some are not doing well. Of the 18 girls trained in March, we have omitted 5 in these 2 reports. They were:  One similar case of fraud and four who are having well-functioning, active businesses. 1 doing very well, above average, 3 doing ok, within the average. 

Thank you very much, always remember that you are changing lives in Cameroon!

As a reference: All girls were given business grants of 50$ in late March. The Cameroonian poverty line is at 24$ a month and the official minimum salary at 65$. 

Salome
Salome
Ako in her market post
Ako in her market post
Chantal in her bar
Chantal in her bar
Jin in her restaurant
Jin in her restaurant
Patience (from last report)
Patience (from last report)

Links:

 

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Organization Information

Reach Out Cameroon (REO)

Location: Buea, South West Region - Cameroon
Website:
Project Leader:
Njomo Omam Esther
Executive Director
Buea, South West Region Cameroon
$64,424 raised of $73,985 goal
 
929 donations
$9,561 to go
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