Change a Girl's Life Through Microentrepreneurship

by Reach Out NGO
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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
Renata with her son
Renata with her son

Dear Donors, happy GivingTuesday! (this means there’s a 50% bonus on any donation!). Today we bring you the story of Renata, through whom you will get an idea of what has been happening on this project since the start of 2016.

Renata (25) is living with her young son and an older boyfriend (40). We first met her this February. She was in a list of pre-selected girls community groups have given us, we interviewed her and she qualified to be part of the program. She knew how to do a business well, buying and selling eru (local vegetable) in local markets, but at some point in the past she had an emergency, used up all her money and could not continue. She had just started a smaller business; going around selling boiled egg with pepper, making about 12 dollars a month. By giving her a small sum we would make sure she started a better business again, and with appropriate coaching and follow-up we could try to avoid misuse of the business money. Renata is also semi-literate.

Like Renata, many girls required assistance to write their business plans, the ideas were clear, but they could not put them into writing. That was not a problem, we bring enough staff to the workshops (the ratio should be 1 staff per 4-5 girls) so that nobody is left behind. It’s the sense behind the business idea that matters to get selected, not what is actually written.

Renata displayed more than enough knowledge of her field and had a clear plan, so we gave her a first grant, 30,000 francs, about 50 dollars. And we went to check with her quickly after. Record-keeping turned out to be a problem. We have a system adapted to make sure record keeping is implemented among the girls, it ignores some of the technical terms, limits writing and focuses on something the girls can quickly identify as useful, a clear account of their profits. With Renata it was more difficult. We have spent hours with her during different meetings, trying to make sure some records are kept, we realized there were problems not only with reading and writing, also with numbers, she would often forget a 0, and it will be complicated to know if it was a great or a very poor day of business. We tried to look for somebody around her that could help her, but no neighbor seemed fit to the task, or interested. Sometimes our 1-hour long sessions with her (normally we spend about 20 minutes) had her dropping some quiet tears of frustration, we made it a personal mission to solve the problem. We were going over each market day with her, making her recall quantities and basically do the records all over again, just to get an idea of her profits. She was not doing bad at all, every month she will make slightly above the 50$  we had given her with your help.

She started looking at things differently. “This man can leave me at any time, he will go to Nigeria. I’m ok with that, he never helps me. He is a problem sometimes. I want to make my life with my child and find a small place for ourselves”. Behind her gentle smile there was a strong woman in Renata, with clear priorities.

This August was time to receive 50,000 (about 80$). “You know, at this season eru is expensive and if you give me I will not buy more than what I’m buying now. The money will just stay in the house and I don’t trust my boyfriend. Can you give me next month?” She asked.  We were proud of her, she was setting her own pace, and proud of us, we had earned her trust (she knew we would be there next month and the next one, that we are not going anywhere).

So this September we gave her the second grant, and she is doing great, she keeps going to the market and she started adding other things to the business. Eru is traditionally cooked with other ingredients (such as dry shrimp and cow meat) so it made sense to try. “It’s not really moving, the profit is small, the product stays for too long”. She tried and she discarded. “I want to try now snails, a friend of mine is doing it”. This time it worked, she is now having a healthier stream of profits. We also found a system (no dates, only numbers, no writing), and she found somebody to help her. A child of her neighbor is doing her records every business day.

During one of our conversations Renata asked us if we could help more girls and she told us about Eva. Eva is living with her aunt and 5 other people, dropped out of school when she became pregnant and wants to start a food business, we interviewed her and she qualifies for assistance, this past Thursday she started training with us.

This is our first year with Renata and we have learned so much with her, we know that next time we have a similar situation we will be more prepared to adapt the record-keeping system, and we keep learning insights from the markets of Tole with this determined entrepreneur! Next year will be her confirmation, our job is only finished when their position out of poverty is secured forever.

We hope you understand a bit better the project through Renata and to which extent you are transforming lives.

Today is bonus day and you think of a donation it will be increased by 50%! 100 dollars will be 150! (so two more girls to help will actually be 3!). If you chose to sign for a recurring donation (monthly donations) this will be matched by 200%!! (so if you sign to make 30 dollars a month, we will get 90!). This year will close with 50 girls supported, can we make it to 80 next year?

Thanks Again!

Next report will be next month and will cover the closing of the year: training of the next 20 girls, as well as the disbursement of loans of up to 550 $ to a few who have now reached a higher level and want to go further.

Follow-up meeting
Follow-up meeting
preparing eru
preparing eru
another follow-up meeting, this october
another follow-up meeting, this october
In the market
In the market
Eva, the next in line!
Eva, the next in line!

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Elekta checking her books with us
Elekta checking her books with us

Dear Donors,

It’s been 3 months since our last report and this is what has been happening:

  • Evaluation meeting in Tole
  • Successful beneficiaries of our last batch just received a second, bigger, grant to expand their projects
  • We had new volunteer s from the Global Education Network of Young Europeans (www.glen-europe.org), you will have the impression of one of them, Flo Von Schreitter in this report.

Evaluation Meeting

It's always good to stop for a minute and reflect. There are many community actors, local groups and associations as well as government and traditional authorities, who are crucial to the success of our project. This is why this July we had an Evaluation Meeting with all the stakeholders relevant to the project. We had members of the delegations of the ministries of Women Empowerment, Social Affairs and Vocational Training, as well as the representative of the Chief of Tole, the CEO of Community Health Foundation (an NGO based directly in Tole), 3 women groups, the Manager of Tole Credit Union with whom we started a very fruitful partnership (Innovation Challenge, you will get to know more about it soon) and of course, two of our girls, Gilian and Mary, who gave their testimonies of struggle and success.

The community members resolved to help the project in any way possible (Selection and follow-up) and the government representatives were very interested on complementing it with their own programs (facilitating training spaces and experts).

You can find attached to this report a word document with the materials handed out in the meeting, it’s a good opportunity to catch up on the project and its background!

Second grant disbursement

After following up with the first 15 grantees supported in March this August we decided to support 7 of them. Those are the ones who we are ready to support right now, given their availability and constancy in their business, we had a good number of them (5) who temporarily travelled to other locations and could not be regularly followed-up but are doing great with their businesses, these ones will be supported eventually. Sadly two did not do well and are not being collaborative, so we need to move on. But that is exactly why we set up this system of two grants, so more of your money is spent on those who are not only in need, but in the disposition of multiplying your donations 100 times.

These were Carine, who is going back to school with the money she is making with her saloon, Renata, who is doing great selling eru (local vegetable), Solange who sells clothes in the market and now wants to try School Bags, Kum, who is also a market seller but wants to buy a fridge and move to a more ambitious business (making juices and yogurt), Elekta, who is doing so great we started a microproject for her (https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/supporting-elekta-to-become-self-reliant/ ), Constance, a farmer now owning her own peanut farm and Isabella, who is now feeding half of the taxi drivers of Tole with her rice & beans business.

Florian’s Testimony.

Between July and September 2016 I took part in a major Microfinance Project of Reach Out Cameroon called 'Keep a Girl Alive'. The major emotions to describe my experiences during this period were first 'surprise' which was later replaced to 'convinced'. Why was I surprised and why did the program convince me? First of all I was surprised by the efficiency of the initiative. Reach Out Cameroon is very well connected in the community of Tole where the activities are taking place. I assumed that microfinance is just about giving money, but Reach Out defines microfinance as tracking the effective spending of the money very carefully. During my first month I visited almost every KGA beneficiary at least twice. We carried out 1 on 1 training sessions on bookkeeping, business development and further consultation. We also targeted the community with an Innovation Challenge and the Youth Engagement Program which gave us all together synergies and a greater impact on empowering ‘our KGA girls’. This description should show already, that we don’t see them as numbers we rather see them as part of the Reach Out Cameroon Family in which we take care of each other. The high density of activities carried out within the program itself but also connected to other synergies ‘convinced’ me of our Keep a girl alive program. It convinced me because I saw that it aims at a major program at the right time and with the right method. I am sure that Reach Out Cameroon will continue this way of tracking activities carefully to achieve the highest impact out of any donations. Keep a girl alive program does not only empower women in the right way, it also helps them to smile again because they know that they are part of the family.

Thelma

Thelma is the daugther of one of the girls supported, she is 7 and looking forward to start her 3rd year in Buea School for the Deaf to continue with her education and learning sign language. She is even teaching it to her mother! If you want to know more about her story follow the link.

https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/send-thelma-to-deaf-school-1/

We are looking for first donations that can give visibility and catapult her in front of more and more possible donors, the first 10 dollars are not only 10 dollars, but much more.

Next month you will get to know about the Innovation Challenge and more details about the progress your girls are making!

Thank you for everything you have done!

Evaluation Meeting
Evaluation Meeting
Renata selling eru
Renata selling eru
Training and disbursement of second grant
Training and disbursement of second grant
1on1 session with renata
1on1 session with renata
Florian (behind) in an interview with Marie
Florian (behind) in an interview with Marie

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Time for evaluation!
Time for evaluation!

Dear donor,

You might remember from past reports that we have been really struggling to make the girls we assist practice bookkeeping regularly, with very mild succes rates. GlobalGiving applies the values “Listen, Act, Learn and Repeat” to continuously improve and learn. Inspired by this spirit we looked at the problem of bookkeeping, our past actions and the girls we work for, we saw what we could improve and we changed our methods. What were the results?

1)   100% success. ALL newly supported girls are doing bookkeeping. This is unprecedented in our programs.

2)   These girls are multiplying your money! and now with the exact data we can tell you with  accuracy. On March 21st they received 30,000 francs, some 54 dollars each. By June 21st, if they continue to work at the same rhythm, they will have made at least 122,300 francs, 223 dollars. This is including those who are not doing very well (Renata, for example, had an accident that put her out of business for a month) and ignoring the fact that there are great improvements after the first steps (Many of the girls start somewhat timidly and not making much profit, but after the first month they have a stronger stream of revenue after some basic changes of direction). The highest performing among them are making two to three times this figure.

3)   Even when accounting for the costs of training, administration and follow-up, we can say that in 3 months, for every dollar you donated, they multiplied it by more than 3. This money is now making them take better care of their children, more independent of men, and making them grow even more, roughly half of them have already increased their working capital by one third. Do you want to multiply this impact even more? Well... today is GlobalGiving Bonus day! For every 10 dollars you give globalgiving will add 5 to your donation! Check the full conditions at the end of this report.

What did we do different this time?

Full transparency and an incentive: Grantees got 30,000 francs now and will get another 50,000 francs 3 months after if they have been doing the business, following up with us and doing bookkeeping. There was a clear set of rules that everybody understood, and  a good prize for complying. The main reason we could do this? Thanks to you we have more secure funds than before! and we could plan with bigger amounts of money, not only for one grant but for the next one.

Longer trainings and more practical excercises. We increased our preliminary training to three days instead of one, with a lot of practical exercises to ensure that everybody will master the practice before starting up.

Immediate and constant follow-up: But the most important thing. We went right away to the field. Before we used to give one month before checking on them. This time it was a week, we checked what they had purchased and worked on their bookkeeping, and we did not stop till all of them were on the right track. Most of them did not get it exactly right the first time, but all of them were fluent at it by the third time, in less than a month.

But does it have an impact on them? Does it matter at all if they keep records? After all some of the best business women we have met were iliterate, and had their own systems to account for their profits. Well, our past research contrasting those who do and those who do not keep records found that on average, those who do are having stronger businesses, and bigger amounts of working capital. But what do the girls have to say?

“I’m grateful to discover how much I gain. If not I will just use my money anyhow” “I see how much I’m profiting and I mind more how I spend it.” “I’m impressed even myself” Esther Mba, she sells second handed clothes to feed a family of 6 and besides her profits she has been saving 7000 francs (13$) a week.

“Before starting the bookkeeping I was not aware of how much money I could actually make. If I had a good day I would just buy some nice things to eat that day. Now that I see that I’m making 18,000 (33$) a week I feel like I need to do something important with that money.” Elekta, sells meat snacks, taking care of her elderly parents and her child without help from anybody.

 P.D: Partner’s Reward Bonus Day is here, and thanks to you we are holding the status of SuperStar, which means a 50% matching bonus on any donation, 10 dollars become 15, 100 become 150 and so on up to 1000! Bonus Day starts at 9.00 EDT, 15.00 in most of Europe. You can check the time in your timezone here (http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html ) Please share the good news among your friends, and consider a small donation!

 P.D2: We have been publishing personal stories of the girls in our facebook account, you can get them all following the links:

The promising Constance: https://www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon/photos/a.134830033224170.16566.127548367285670/1215487345158428/?type=3

Claudine and her perseverance: https://www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon/photos/a.134830033224170.16566.127548367285670/1210408128999683/?type=3

Coliance, Positioning herself as a supplier of smoked fish in her community, https://www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon/photos/a.134830033224170.16566.127548367285670/1205323672841462/?type=3

Bianca, who wants to go to University

https://www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon/photos/a.134830033224170.16566.127548367285670/1200039510036545/?type=3

The multitasking Elizabeth https://www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon/posts/1220407544666408

Constance
Constance
Claudine
Claudine
Coliance
Coliance
Bianca
Bianca
Elizabeth
Elizabeth
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Workshop on Business management and more!
Workshop on Business management and more!

During the month of March 2016 26 girls underwent a 3 days intensive training, 18 of them receiving a business grant to start or improve on their businesses. This was only possible because of you.

The training focused on bookkeeping, business management and some exercises and games to spur creativity. There were also separate lessons on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Gender Abuse, topics directly connected to their well-being and direct economic development. The main objective of the training was that each girl should produce a business plan presenting her idea, from which we evaluated if the person was ready to receive financial support.

A disbursement ceremony with presence from relevant community members and family was held one week after. Each of the girls did a speech presenting herself and her plans. Some revealed themselves as very good speech makers, bringing up laughter and applause. They took the opportunity to start advertising their business, or to commend the rest to be responsible and work together to make Tole a place to be proud of.

To make the ceremony more entertaining and educative we showed “Belleh” a short Cameroonian comedy on gender inequality (it depicts a man who suddenly wakes up on a world with gender roles reversed). The producers of the movie graciously donated a copy to the program and we want to thank them again. You can check out their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/belehthemovie and trailer (https://vimeo.com/77741704), it’s really worth seeing! You will get a good insight on the communities you are helping.

At the end each selected girl received 30,000 francs (50$), they are expected to receive another 50,000 (83$) in three months if their first steps are satisfactory. 30,000 are enough to start up a humble business in Cameroon, but it's the 50,000, after getting more experience and testing what works and what not, that will be a complete life changer for them. To guide them during these first months, we have already been supporting them technically in their business places and houses. You will get to know more about that in our next report.

Do you want to know a bit more about the people you supported? We included a section in the business plan to set up goals for the future. These are some of those goals:

“6 months: I will be selling to small suppliers” Esther, 29

“After 4 months I will create a provisions store and later add a fridge and I will have cold drinks and yogurt” Hermine, 22

“I will help other’s become like me“ “I want to be going to other countries to buy and supply here” “I want to create something that is different, something that no one else is having in Tole” Carine, 20,

“In 6 months I will be employing somebody” Itoe, 25

“I will be able to help others in need” Nicoline, 18

We have also inaugurated series in our Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon), “Entrepreneurial Women” every Wednesday we will bring you their stories so you can put a face to the persons you helped and know how much impact you are having in so many lives. This Wednesday we started with Bianca, a young girl starting to make his way as an entrepreneur who has a very clear goal: She wants to go to University.

Thank you very much for being there for them, you have changed 18 lives forever, and there are more to come.

P.D: Last thing! We are now fundraising to create Boys & Girls Clubs! https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/teen-haven-adolescent-empowerment-in-cameroon/ . We want to educate and capacitate the next generation, stopping them from committing the mistakes of the past and breaking the cycle of poverty. There is less than 60 days to support this project and small donations are really really welcome, just one or two more will catapult its visibility and it will rank among the most popular projects in GlobalGiving.

Thank you again!

Working on the business plans in groups
Working on the business plans in groups
Writing their plans while soothing their children
Writing their plans while soothing their children
Encouraging participation is part of the process
Encouraging participation is part of the process
Sexual education
Sexual education
Disbursement Day! Thank you!
Disbursement Day! Thank you!

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Odilia, takes care of a family of five.
Odilia, takes care of a family of five.

Dear donors,

After the amazing support of donors like you during December, we are increasing the budget of this program substantially, because of you, 39 girls will be trained and 22 will receive also financial support this March. Thank you for believing on these amazing women and girls, and for trusting us, we won’t let you down. In case you don’t really know what Reach Out Cameroon is about, take a few minutes to stroll through our facebook page! www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon

This start of the year we wanted to learn more about what worked and what did not for the past years, we reached to more than 50 past beneficiaries, some higlights:

Lorencia started with us in 2014. She was trading vegetables in the market, after going through many different businesses. She struggled a lot to provide for a family with an unsupportive husband, “My husband and I are just managing. Love and poverty don’t go well together. He’s been bringing me down all these years. He would come and beg me for 1000 francs, sometimes he gives back sometimes he does not. So I stopped it. I told him: I don’t have any 1 franc to give you”. Lorencia is also an excellent cook, and quickly she has become our official cook for all events, and is building a carrier as a cook for ocassions. She has now multiplied by 4 the capital received for her trading business, and turned around the husband, who now contributes a small monthly sum to household expenditures.

Marie, a young girl who you might remember from last report, is taking good care of the pigs she received, feeding them with vegetabe waste from the family farm. She is also succesfully trading bananas (her monthly profit is equivalent to the grant we gave her) “I'm really grateful, I feel I don't need more support and now you should help new girls".

Odilia received small but critical support more than two years ago, when she just started her hairdressing saloon. She is now managing a booming saloon with a working capital of 40 times the money received and she is now employing and training other girls.

Success has to be credited mostly to the girls determination and to very critical factors like the family environment, the role of the husband or boyfriend is key. We've seen disruptive partners, but also exemplary ones. Kelvin (see picture under) does not only approve of what her wife Charlotte is doing, he joined efforts with her to build a beauty saloon, where he does the nails. We love to see a man helping his wife shine.

And who is coming next? Girls like Elekta, an HIV positive girl who is taking care of her elderly parents and her son selling meat snacks. Strong, assertive and with a mind for business, we look forward to see what she can do with a bit of help, she is among the 39 selected to undergo training on March. We hope you will join her on this journey.

We also spend time on building our own skills. We trained our staff on beekeeping and mushroom production. Seizing the opportunity provided by two different local organizations, friends and partners of us, the Bonakanda Bova Bee Farmers Group (BOBEEFAG) and the NGO Changing Mentalities and Empowering Groups (CHAMEG). We thank them again. Our staff received amazing and intensive training that we will soon be bringing into the field. The potential for these low-cost, ecological, highly profitable and not so time consuming activities is just too big. We are not in this fight alone and if we want to achieve real change in the fight against poverty we must rely in friends like them.

We want to finish with a statement Lorencia made during our last interview.

“I like that you listen to me, and that you tell me that someone will care about this story, because at times I felt like my life did not matter to anyone, but seeing someone asking me these questions and taking an interest in my life makes me feel like someone cares." She does not know you, and you did not know her, but it was you caring about her that brought her where she is now.

Thank you!

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

P.D: Today is Women's Day! Today and during this week, any donation made through globalgiving UK will be matched by 50%! Until funds run out! Donations need to be done through this link: http://www.globalgiving.co.uk/projects/make-an-impact-girls-education-cameroon/

Consider this opportunity to maximize your impact and share the good news among your friends. Thank you for everything you have already done for them.

Lorencia, cook and trader. Being interviewed
Lorencia, cook and trader. Being interviewed
Kermit and Charlotte plan to expand their saloon.
Kermit and Charlotte plan to expand their saloon.
Lucy, our staff, being trained on mushroom farming
Lucy, our staff, being trained on mushroom farming
Marie, 21, trades banana and rears pigs.
Marie, 21, trades banana and rears pigs.
Becky, in front of the saloon you helped to build
Becky, in front of the saloon you helped to build
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Organization Information

Reach Out NGO

Location: Buea, South West Region - Cameroon
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @reachoutdev1
Project Leader:
Njomo Omam Esther
Executive Director
Buea, South West Region Cameroon
$106,292 raised of $127,985 goal
 
1,208 donations
$21,693 to go
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