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
Marie and her mother
Marie and her mother

Three months have passed since our last report. As the year comes to an end we want to give a special thank you for the four people that continue to be subscribed to a recurrent donation, their support is special as they ensure that even when the program is not receiving new donations, there are running funds that allow us to continue working with our beneficiaries. Also thanks to the recent fundraising efforts (Running for Reach Out) by Melanie Harbinson we are receiving substantial new donations, which will ensure the expansion of the program and enhance your impact to more and more lives changed. We want to inform you about a new aspect of the program we are introducing (the passing on the gift), a summary of our activities for the 16 days of activism to end Violence Against Women and an individual story of the kind of beneficiaries this project supports.

“Passing on the gift”

Two years ago Reach Out started a piggery with support from the Ministry of Small and Medium Sized enterprise and different international benefactors. From time to time, as the business starts to grow stable, we find opportunities to give back to the community. Two months ago a girl was selected in Tole to start her own piggery, she received two piglets and one bag of feed. Two more families are next in line. We decided to support Marie, who you might remember from past reports. Her family has experience rearing pigs in the past (“All my children school fees, it was pigs that paid them” said her mother) but stopped it a few years ago. Now she is the one taking care of the piglets, bathing them and feeding them. There is a hook, after the first breed the family will give us back two piglets, and for the next three years one piglet each time they reproduce, this will expand the program to more families, slowly creating a network of beneficiaries and benefactors. Rearing pigs is a very profitable venture in the South-West Region, Marie has now the capacity to catapult herself out of poverty and we don't have any doubt she will succed with time.

16 days activism.

Reach Out was part of the International 16 days of activism to end violence against women (the period between 25th November and 10thDecember, an initiative by the United Nations) and we had talks in schools, organized movie projections and debates, joined forces with other stakeholders in Buea Gender Fair and finally marched with girls and women in Muyuka to demonstrate against all forms of gender based violence. We were amazed particularly at the spirit and concern shown by all these young girls. Talking with them and listening to what they have to say was inspiring. If this is representative of the generation to come, Cameroonian women are heading for a change. You can see a short video of the march here: Reach Out Marching

Rebeca

Rebeca is another victim of those obnoxious (and sadly very common) practices against widows and orphans in Cameroon. Years ago her family was considered middle class, with various simple properties and land. When her father died everything was taken from her mother and the family was cast away. Forced to live in precarious conditions and abandoned by most of her family members, she is struggling to continue her education and care for her family. This year she is enrolled in a technical school. We identified her and offered her to join our program, but at first she looked reluctant, she did not really know what business to do, she had been working all her life but never for herself.

After a while she came back, we went over her options (credit, plantain chips, pastries, boiled egg..) back and forth, and finally she came up with a simple business plan and started selling pastries to her classmates and also selling egg through a local provisions shop. (boiled egg with hot sauce is another typical Cameroonian food) The interesting thing is that given she rarely has time (between being the eldest in the house after her mother, studying and working at their farm) she expands the business through networking. Other people sell for her or accept to have her product on their posts. She already has a friend that will sell her pastries and another four places where she could leave a bucket of eggs, including Reach Out’s office! But the most amazing thing, Reach Out still has not given her any money. We just took time to talk with her about business and she mobilized funds from many distant relatives to start everything going (she raised 30$). We like what we are seeing and this week she is going to receive her first grant, as she will benefit a lot from it, has a clear plan and a good product. Girls like Rebeca make our job very easy, a few words of encouragement are transformed into solid business in a matter of weeks.

Thank you for making it possible for Rebeca and for so many more like her, we hope you understand that your support has made you a part of so many lives.

P.D: This project was chosen inside Globalgiving as example of Substainable Development Goal #5, Gender Equality so if you want to explain to someone what fighting for Gender Equality is about, just talk about this project! https://www.globalgiving.org/sdg/gender-equality/

P.D2: Meet with us on facebook: www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon

Marie's family with our team and disbursed pigs
Marie's family with our team and disbursed pigs
Marie & son. Farming waste will help feed the pigs
Marie & son. Farming waste will help feed the pigs
Demonstration to end violence against women
Demonstration to end violence against women
Rebeca with her egg-bucket. All sold!
Rebeca with her egg-bucket. All sold!
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Stephanie, cooking
Stephanie, cooking

Dear benefactors, thank you for your kindness one more time.

This is the end of rainy season and some businesses are in a halt and waiting for everything to dry and get busy again. Others like Gillian, who is quickly becoming the star of the program, are booming. Sshe is still doing credit and has added an informal petrol business, she has long past more than 5 times the capital that we (you) gave her, in less than one year. All of it alone, no boyfriend or husband is supporting her. She has no need for it, in fact, she has more income that most males in Tole by now.

But not everyone is Gillian and sometimes our stories are more about second chances or small baby steps that eventually lead somewhere. Nikes received only 30 dollars last time, she was not performing and we thought, being a young and good looking girl, that she was not really engaged on the business as it is often the case in Tole. We discovered later on that it was related to a gender based violence case and, given that the chief of Tole made an unexpected donation to the program, agreed on to give her another small chance. She put together the capital she had left and the money we gave her and went to Douala, the economic capital, where she decided to take advantage and not pity of the permanent rain, she bought as many plastic shoes as she could and tried to sell them in Tole, when “the market was not moving” moved out to Mile16 with her sister, and she sold all of them. She has enough money now to go back to school and she will register this Monday, we cannot support this report with the documentation because she is registering this Monday, but we will upload the picture of her paid school fees when we have it.

More about baby steps, Thelma, the small daughter of one of our beneficiaries who was born deaf and did not know sign language, has been in Buea School for the Deaf for one year and during this time was able to teach her own mother basic sign language, you can see in this video how they communicate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGZTLA_qoMI&feature=youtu.be

The mother has improved on her business, Stephanie is a trader of bananas that buys from local farmers and sells to bigger traders, that will gather from many small women and ripe them and sell them in Douala. Given how limited the efforts of Cameroonian Government are towards disability rights, Buea School for the Deaf has to remain a private institution, and School Fees are very high for Stephanie to cope with. We are fundraising again for her this year. https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/send-thelma-to-deaf-school/ 

We rely on your support to keep changing lives, realistically but optimistically, and we wish you could come with us to Tole and feel the gratitude that is filling its streets, it’s not rare these days that someone offer us a small snack as we are doing our follow-up rounds, people who have not benefitted anything out of the project but know that we (you, the girls and Reach Out) are in the right path. I hope their approval guarantee you that we are doing the best we can with your hard earned money.

Thank you again

P.D: You can know more about Reach Out's projects on facebook: www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon

Gillian, surrounded by clients
Gillian, surrounded by clients
Nikes, during a counseling session
Nikes, during a counseling session
Elizabeth, she does a variety of sandwiches.
Elizabeth, she does a variety of sandwiches.
Mirabel during a follow up at her business site.
Mirabel during a follow up at her business site.
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Gillian. Smiling and working thanks to you
Gillian. Smiling and working thanks to you

Dear Family of Reach Out,

We’ve closed a phase in Tole this month. After continuous follow up and collecting loan payments we had enough information to disburse grants to the best performing girls, and to a few of the most vulnerable. In total 10 girls received grants of different sizes (between 100 and 30) past week.

The disbursement event was a great experience, we took the opportunity that all girls where gathered in one place to work on their self-confidence with a very simple exercise, they should tell us their stories and share advice with their fellow business women. We were impressed with the result.

“Every day, no matter how the business goes, I save 2000 francs, if I make 5000 I keep 2000, if I make 2100 I keep 2000 and I struggle to eat. At the end of the Month I split it in half, half for the house half of the business” Claudine. (Remember we told you in the last report that she had just lost almost all her capital because of a terrible sickness that almost killed her for more than three months? She is back on her feet and continues to impress us.)

“Do your bookkeeping, play your Njangi or your Achao, save something every day, and never use your capital” Comfort. We could not have said it better. (Note: Njangi and Achao are different kinds of local saving practices)

And there were some praises also, that we should extend to you as you are also Reach Out.

“Long live at prosperity to Reach Out, they did not abandon us when we failed, and now we are moving” Mba, member of Unity Sisters

“Thanks to the money Reach Out gave me I could start a business and from there use the profits to pay for my education, I just finished my exams and I hope next year I can make it to University” Marie

“Thank you plenty. All of you know me. I don’t have a man, I don’t have family in this village, but I have Reach Out” Suzanne

Moreover, the ceremony was the first attended by His Royal Highness the Chief of Tole, just freshly crowned the day before. A young but bright man you can see in the pictures. He gave us reason to have hope for this country. After listening to the girls he made his speech and decided to make his own donation! We have high hopes that we can create a long lasting relationship with the Palace; we cannot emphasize how rare such attitude is. In fact, the usual thing is Cameroon is that the authority should receive a small fee himself to cover “transport” cost of attending the event; he ignored protocol and tradition and saw the opportunity to do something valuable for his community, giving insted of taking.

Many members of Reach Out’s family will remember Florence, the blind mother of 4 living in Tole, for whom we fundraised for past year. We are very glad to report a good improvement pace, the whole family showing strong signals of entrepreneurial spirit, managing together different micro businesses. We are particularly proud of Melanie, the elder daughter, who keeps the books of their different small businesses. Reach Out, thanks to our donors, is supporting them this time with help to construct a little built structure where they can be selling cooked food. You can see a picture of her during follow up and another one of Reach Out’s team, including our logistician, negotiating and discussing with the construction team.

What are we seeing in the future? We are moving to the next batch of girls in Tole and we are also exploring doing interventions in new rural communities where we can replicate our model, as always, relying on local groups when possible.

But if there is someone that we will continue to rely on to make this happen is you.

Thank you, thank you for not giving up, thank you for the lives you continue to change.

P.D: Please tell us what you think about the Keep a Girl Alive and much more! Continue engaged with us through facebook. www.facebook.com/reachoutcameroon

Group Picture: beneficiaries, staff and Chief
Group Picture: beneficiaries, staff and Chief
Comfort with her 4 months baby
Comfort with her 4 months baby
Stephanie
Stephanie
New Chief of Tole giving his speech
New Chief of Tole giving his speech
Florence, looking good and every day better
Florence, looking good and every day better
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Mercy, in charge of collecting payments
Mercy, in charge of collecting payments

Dear Donors,

These last months had brought some hard to face news, and we don’t want to hide them from you. Claudine, the star of our program, main picture in the globalgiving page, fell seriously sick, her legs were paralyzed, the saloon was closed for months and all her efforts and progress seemed to be washed down by the difficulties of life. Luckily a few weeks ago she could re-open again, in a new location; we will soon re-assess the situation.

This is the time where we will start collecting the loans back from the newest group of girls in Tole after a three months period of grace. We have charged this task upon them. Mercy, one of the beneficiaries, is relied to be collecting the money for us. We did not need to remind them, in fact we have been receiving calls from them (Mae, portrayed in the last report, called myself personally) asking us when were we coming to collect.

Our team also met with the Adult Literacy students in Buea Town and Bumaka, the classes are targeted for the Muslim community as it is normal among the Mbororo ethnicity that women remain illiterate. We had been asked to try and come out with a fundraise strategy for the program, as it has been running for a lot of time but due to donor withdrawal even the transport costs of the volunteers were in danger. It was then that the idea of joining both programs came together. Most of the girls that meet every Monday and Wednesday to learn how to write, read and even speak English would qualify for one of our grants. Actually the platform of weekly classes will allow us to keep better track on their business management and bookkeeping skills, their proven capacity for hard work and progress is also inspiring to work with. So the partnership between these two programs seemed only natural.

I want to close with another Mercy, this one from Bakweri Town,he started selling “pot” (that is selling little pieces of meat with spices on a cooking pot and going around the street selling them for 50CFA, 10 cent of dollar, a piece). She is one of our last beneficiaries and she is supporting her family on her own, paying for her sister's education and the needs of her child, only with the proceeds from the business. She has a keen eye for business, a good recipe and the determination to be walking all day, holding the pot on her head. She has been making consistent profit (around 3000 francs a day, 6 dollars, of profit, overall sales being 30, at 10 cents a piece!). Her next step will be a fridge that will protect her from the fluctuating prices of meat, improving her profits by around 2 dollars a day.

So this is the next step, giving her and a selected group of girls like her the tools for a big leap towards the end of poverty. We know that you will continue to be with them along the journey.

Thank you again, so many times we are being thanked by the girls and we know that it’s to you that they should be thankful. We explain then that it is not thanks to us, but to normal people like them with better opportunities and a great heart, that help came through.

We have to add also that today is Bonus Day and any donation to this project will be matched by Globalgiving by 30%, you have given so much, we can only ask you to consider sharing this information among friends and family, as we know you care about the project and the girls.

P.D: Reports for the microprojects related to this project have also been published, you can find them here:

Hairdressing with Becky and Itsa: http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-two-hair-saloons-with-itsa-and-becky/

Tailoring with Aba: http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-a-tailoring-business-with-aba/

Mercy's table shop
Mercy's table shop
One of the students of the literacy classes
One of the students of the literacy classes
Volunteer, trainer and Aba.Tailoring project.
Volunteer, trainer and Aba.Tailoring project.
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Workshop on chin-chin, banana cake and puff-puff
Workshop on chin-chin, banana cake and puff-puff

It's 2015 already and we celebrate it with more news from the field and eternal gratitude for the almost 300 donations received over time.


As scheduled, we had a baking workshop and a business management workshop in early October, the disbursement of funds took place at the middle of the month for 21 new girls in two different locations . During both ceremonies we were privileged with the presence of Madam Justine, an experienced business owner and community leader in Tole (treasurer of Charity Sisters, one of our oldest groups of beneficiaries) her advice to the girls was invaluable. She talked about topics such as best business ventures to pursue, bookeeping, and the importance of cutting personal expenses, as she put it: "If you or your 'pikin' only have two dresses you clean one every day, but you don't touch the money from the business". She stayed long after the ceremony chatting and sharing her opinions with them.


How are the girls doing now? We have conducted follow-up meetings at random and the results are quite good, all interviewees reported more profit than in prior editions of the program, above the average of similar businesses according to our database. An interest fact when you consider that the individual funds disbursed were smaller than in prior editions (Because we want to disburse in two phases, an initial one to launch the business and a second one to give additional pushes to those proven worthy of it).The numbers? We can say, roughly, that Mae (Gateau Business) is having 10 dollars a week worth of profit, and Itoe (selling phone credit) 12, it might not look like much but it is: Considering cost of living in their communities, such revenues do improve substantially their quality of life. But more important, their capital was only 64 dollars, a figure they have already surpassed! Your money was well invested on them.

We saw Mae by chance just two days after the ceremony, as we were meeting someone else in Tole, and she surprised us with her diligence, she was already having a fully functional Gateau bussiness, and she brought some to try!

Itoe's case is also extraordinary, you must consider that phone credit has very low return on capital, to achieve the kind of revenue that she is managing, she must sell to an average of more than 240 people in one week! On an economically depressed community. We have advised her, and she had it in mind already, to complement the credit with other products with higher value added and we hope her revenues will increase even more in the future.


Not everything is perfect, the follow up showed that we still find it difficult for most girls to follow our advice on bookkeeping and we will work on how to improve the coaching sessions and materials, and make them more useful to their situation. We know that many of our donors are experienced in the field of development, and as always we will welcome any input on this or other issues of the program coming from you.


These past months we have also been using globalgiving microprojects, we use the tool to select and give extra assistance to those individuals that present extreme vulnerability or special potential for economic development (very often both). This is how we chose Aba(https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-a-tailoring-business-with-aba/) to support her future tailoring shop, and Itsa and Becky (https://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/build-two-hair-saloons-with-itsa-and-becky/), for hairdressing ventures.


These are excellent news, but we must ensure the sustainability of the main project, the one that allow us to identify such cases in the first place, and we are looking for additional sources of revenue to make the program stronger and more consistent over time, in order to keep changing more and more lives. Because of this Reach Out is both trying to expand and put in place economic ventures that employ the vulnerable and finance the program (such as REO’s piggery) and to find institutions that could act as additional benefactors for it. We are absolutely sure the investment is worth it.


We hope the start of the year was great for you and that you know that for many of the girls it was you who made it to be great.


Thank you.

Group picture
Group picture
Madam Justine chatting with Becky and Head of Dpt.
Madam Justine chatting with Becky and Head of Dpt.
Nikes is going to start a callbox business
Nikes is going to start a callbox business
disbursement event with all the girls from Tole
disbursement event with all the girls from Tole
Becky, a few days after disbursement.
Becky, a few days after disbursement.
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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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