Feed the Future Zimbabwe Non-Timber Forest Products Global Development Alliance

Feed the Future Zimbabwe Non-Timber Forest Products Global Development Alliance

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Overview

The five-year Feed the Future Zimbabwe Non-Timber Forest Products Global Development Alliance (NTFP GDA) works across 23 districts of Zimbabwe to expand the market for Zimbabwean non-timber forest products (NTFPs), such as baobab, marula, Kalahari melon, and Ximenia. The NTFP GDA—a partnership between USAID, CNFA, and Organic Africa—will train and engage new farmers and wild collectors as specialty-certified suppliers and develop new processing facilities and technologies to expand the domestic and international supply of natural ingredients from Zimbabwe.

Leveraging $7.7 million in private sector investment, the NTFP GDA seeks to provide new and sustainable income-generating opportunities for 12,000 smallholder farmers and wild collectors while protecting at least 160,000 hectares of forest and farmland through the introduction of improved community-led natural resource management, carbon market engagement, and organic farming practices. It also seeks to improve the resilience of vulnerable and marginalized communities, particularly women and youth, by increasing and diversifying household incomes and strengthening environmental stewardship from the commercialization of NTFPs in Zimbabwe.

By creating income-generating opportunities that rely on nutritious and diverse forest resources and by paying premium prices for products with organic, Fair Trade, FairWild, and UEBT certifications, the GDA will incentivize the protection of natural resources and the adoption of sustainable farming practices.

Approach

The NTFP GDA will expand Organic Africa’s geographic reach and community-based supplier network, building on the company’s core values of social, environmental, and economic sustainability.

The GDA will focus on three inter-related components to achieve its overall objectives:

  1. Increased Production and Supply: Through targeted training for 12,000 smallholder farmers and wild collectors and investment in tools for the local primary processing of raw materials, the NTFP GDA will improve the supply of NTFPs that meet market standards and increase income-generating opportunities in rural communities. Engaging new suppliers and other market actors in Organic Africa’s supply chain will provide men, women, and youth with the training and tools that they need to increase yields, enhance efficiency, and meet certification requirements to achieve premium pricing.
  2. Enhanced Product Quality: The GDA will introduce new processing equipment to improve efficiency and will expand community-based and commercial processing capacity and storage with investments in new facilities and expansions to existing facilities, creating new employment opportunities. The NTFP GDA will support Organic Africa to continue strengthening traceability systems and operating procedures, helping producers earn and maintain specialty certifications like organic, FairWild, Fair Trade, and UEBT, which carry social, environmental, and financial benefits for participants. Together, CNFA and Organic Africa will leverage the increased supply of certified NTFP products in local markets, expand access to high-value export markets, and grow the domestic availability of Zimbabwean natural ingredient products.
  3. Improved Natural Resource and Forest Management: The NTFP GDA will incentivize the sustainable use and protection of biodiverse forest areas and build the capacity of farmers, wild collectors, and community groups to effectively manage their natural resources. The GDA seeks to develop a voluntary carbon market offset activity to compensate communities for implementing environmental practices that reduce, sequester, or avoid CO2 emissions.

Partners

  • Organic Africa: a socially responsible family of companies, including Organic Africa, B’ayoba, and KaZa Natural Oils, founded and operating in Zimbabwe since 2007. Organic Africa specializes in partnering with farmers and wild collectors to supply sustainably and ethically produced natural ingredients, such as baobab, rosella, and natural oils, with specialty certifications for domestic and export markets. Organic Africa is a Zimbabwean social enterprise and leading producer, exporter, and domestic supplier of specialty-certified natural ingredients products.

Domba’s Women Driving Inclusive and Sustainable Market Development

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Food processing entrepreneurs Mariko Maimouna Togola and Konate Mariam Ballo are members of the Tomba Nafama Agricultural Association in the Bougouni region of Mali. Founded in 2016, the 47 women members of Tomba Nafama process local agricultural products including fonio, peanuts and ginger. “Tomba Nafama is a group of women whose main activity is the processing of their agricultural products,” said Togola.

To diversify their activities and revenue sources, Tomba Nafama members participated in “Open Day” market events organized annually by the Feed the Future Sugu Yiriwa activity in the Bougouni, Koutiala and Sikasso regions to provide local market actors with opportunities to showcase their innovations, technologies, practices, services and products. They also facilitate collaboration between agricultural stakeholders including producers, processors, traders, input suppliers and financial services providers.

“We took part in an initial Sugu Yiriwa workshop in November 2021 that brought together agri-food processors from the region of Bougouni,” said Ballo. “Subsequently, Mariam and I participated in two of the Open Day market events organized by Sugu Yiriwa in Bougouni and Sikasso. It was at this second Open Day event that we had our first introduction to Urea Molasses Mineral Blocks (UMMBs). I found myself at the same stand as a group of women from Farakala who were selling UMMBs for sheep and goats. The moment I laid eyes on the nutritious blocks, I became deeply interested as I considered the impact they could have on improving animals’ health and diversifying our association’s income. I reached out to Sugu Yiriwa requesting training for our association’s members in the manufacturing and marketing of these nutritious blocks,’’ added Togola.

Recognizing the nutritional, economic and environmental value of UMMBs, Sugu Yiriwa organized trainings on the manufacturing and marketing of UMMBs in March 2022 for 50 women and youth from Tomba Nafama and the neighboring Tomba Sabougnouma cooperative. The activity also provided the groups with 10 sheep to support their breeding efforts.

After the training, and over a period of one year, the women of Tomba Nafama manufactured and sold over 700 nutritional UMMBs, generating over $1,324 (800,000 FCFA) in sales. They subsequently secured a contract with Sugu Yiriwa for 240 nutritional blocks as part of emergency initiatives funded by USAID to reduce the effects of the global food crisis on Mali’s rural communities.

“The income generated through this contract has had a significant impact on us. We used it to purchase much-needed solar panels and batteries to provide us with a self-sufficient source of energy,” Ballo said. “As a result, we were able to relaunch our ice business, which had been suspended for over a year due to a lack of consistent electricity. We have also been able to increase our livestock production by purchasing additional sheep,” Togola added.

Livestock breeding is of paramount importance in the Sikasso, Bougouni and Koutiala regions, key areas for agricultural development in Mali. According to the 2015 annual report of the national directorate in charge of animal production and industry, the Sikasso region had over 4 million head of livestock. Livestock plays a crucial role in food security, job creation and the fight against poverty in Mali. However, livestock breeding faces a number of challenges that hamper the well-being of the animals. These challenges include climate change, which leads to the degradation of natural resources, demographic pressures and lack of access to inputs and veterinary services that limit the productivity and quality of animal products.

UMMBs offer a viable solution for small ruminant breeders during Mali’s agricultural lean season. The nutritional blocks—enriched with proteins, vitamins and minerals—are specially designed to meet the dietary needs of animals in ways that stimulate milk production and weight gain as highlighted in a study conducted by the by researchers at the Station de Recherche Zootechnique du Sahel in Niono, Mali.

This 5-month comparative study involved three groups of animals who were fed different diets. Results revealed that animals fed with nutritional blocks recorded a growth of +192 grams per day, while those fed with salt and commercial concentrate suffered weight losses ranging from -99 grams to -410 grams per day. Other studies have shown the positive effects of the blocks on milk production, which often rises from 3.8 to 4.8 liters per day in animals supplemented with UMMB blocks.

They also found that the UMMBs improved the quality of milk produced by increasing its concentration of fats and proteins, allowing farmers to generate higher incomes from their products. UMMBs have been proven to improve fodder digestibility and drastically reduce the health risks associated with undernourishment.

In addition to the benefits for animals, the production and marketing of UMMBs enables harvest residue and bush straw to be put to good use, thus helping to preserve the environment.

As a result of their success, Tomba Nafama trained other local associations to produce UMMBs. Armed with this experience, they felt ready to take on a regular role as trainers. According to Togola, “We contacted Sugu Yiriwa to explore opportunities to lead trainings for others. Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa recruited our services to train 240 women and youth from Sikasso, Bougouni and Koutiala in UMMB production as part of the second phase of the activity’s emergency initiatives. This new income will really benefit us as it will enable us to carry out our poultry and market gardening projects, and further diversify our sources of income.”

Konate Mariam Ballo, member of the Tomba Nafama Agricultural Association in Mali

Mariko Maimouna Togola, president of the Tomba Nafama Agricultural Association in Mali

Extending Animal Health in the Department of Takeita, Zinder Region

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Aichatou Ali Mamadou is a shining example of what one can achieve with passion, hard work and support from the right sources. Born and raised in the city of Zinder in Niger, she had always dreamt of pursuing a career in veterinary medicine.

After completing her primary and secondary studies, she enrolled in the prestigious Inter-State School of Veterinary Sciences and Medicine (EISMV) in Dakar, Senegal, where she excelled and graduated with honors. Then, after defending her thesis, Mamadou returned to her hometown and started working as an assistant veterinarian to gain experience and work toward fulfilling her dream of opening a veterinary clinic. However, with a lack of financial and material resources, she found herself struggling to start her own business.

After considering a bank loan, Mamadou became aware of the USAID Yalwa activity’s call for local private veterinary service (LPVS) providers, as part of its plans to finance five new LPVSs and increase the number of local livestock assistants from 343 to 400.Although LPVS networks already existed in Yalwa’s other areas of intervention, they did not yet exist in the department of Takieta where USAID Yalwa supported 12 small ruminant producer organizations, bringing together 526 members distributed as follows: 221 men, 305 women and 227 youth.

USAID Yalwa’s support to LPVSs centers around three areas: 1) preliminary direct support—which supports LPVSs to obtain the authorization and documentation needed to practice and meet health service mandates as well as to establish a simple operating system for montioring profit; 2) direct support for clinic installation—which drives investment for start-up activities, construction and equipment acquisition (cold chain, means of transport, etc.); and 3) technical support to clinicians–which serves to strengthen the capacities of veterinarians and their assistants, both through managerial and technical training.

“It was an unexpected opportunity for me to learn about Yalwa’s grant because it was exactly what I needed and was looking for,’’ said Mamadou when remembering reading the call for application the first time.

Through this support, Mamadou was finally able to start her business in 2022 with all the necessary equipment, medicine and surgical materials, including cold chain storage units for vaccines and medications. She also recruited 34 individuals to work under her supervision, ensuring better animal health services could be provided throughout the Takieta department.

Her business’ success was shown in February 2023, when she accumulated around $1,300 (700,000 FCFA) in sales. This number will only continue to grow, with awareness on the importance of livestock vaccination becoming more prominent in local communities and with farmers being offered more affordable prices to receive private veterinary services.

Today, Mamadou continues to provide top-notch veterinary services and advice to farmers in her region. Through her strong expertise, dedication and commitment to animal health and leadership, she has also inspired the community around her, especially considering the rarity of women-owned veterinary clinics in Niger. Mamadou’s story is a shining example of the potential one can achieve when provided with the right tools to succeed.

Nebnooma Provincial Union of Small Ruminant Breeders Capitalizes on USAID Yidgiri’s Support and Wins Two Institutional Contracts Worth $33,659

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Small ruminants, such as sheep, are integral to unions’ market-driven sales in Burkina Faso. One of the unions supported by USAID Yidgiri in Kaya, the Nebnooma Provincial Union of Small Ruminant Breeders, has sought to enhance the productivity of the small ruminant value chain. Nebnooma currently has 39 simplified cooperatives societies (SCOOPs) and a total of 809 members, including 752 women. Although the union is nationally registered, its members have experienced challenges with generating profits from its products. 

Based on findings from a market assessment undertaken by Yidgiri in 2022, Nebnooma experienced challenges with accessing credit, holding statutory meetings for its members, and marketing its products at commercial outlets. Union leaders were also unfamiliar with the tendering process and strategies for developing offers in response to tenders from institutional market players. To increase the capacity of unions to access profitable regional markets, union leaders participated in two-fold training sessions up until early 2023. One training session focused on governance principles, whereas the second training taught union leaders how to work within the competitive market and procurement landscape, identify calls for tenders, and navigate the tendering process.  

In April, Nebnooma union leaders bid for and won a contract from the NGO Save Africa to develop a tender for the supply of 267 sheep in three lots (117 in Pissila, 60 in Boussouma, and 90 in Kaya). The contract, worth a total value of $26,961 (16,020,000 FCFA), successfully met quality criteria and delivery deadlines.  

President of the Nebnooma Union, Mady Sawadogo

The president of the Nebnooma Union, Mady SAWADOGO, expressed his satisfaction with the bid outcome, “We have applied what we have learned and we can see that things are changing for the better. For example, the Union has just acquired a 400 m2 plot of land to build its headquarters.” Additionally, the union saved $841 (500,000 FCFA) from this successful bid to invest in its operations.  

Galvanized by this success, Union Nebnooma took part in another call for tenders launched by the same NGO for the supply of 18 tons of cattle feed. Union Nebnooma was awarded a contract valued at $7,270 (4,320,000 FCFA). The Nebnooma Union’s successful bids points to Yidgiri’s broader impact on increasing the institutional capacity of unions, acting as a valuable source of income for small ruminant producers. 

Youth Lead Innovation Along Georgia’s Administrative Boundary Line

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Youth from Georgia’s Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) are bursting with new ideas to develop innovative products. Through the USAID Resilient Communities Program’s Regional Grants Program, conducted jointly with the Program’s institutional partner, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA), 18 young professionals aged 17 to 29 were supported to launch their startup businesses, covering agriculture, entertainment, hardware prototypes and next-generation web3 technologies.

One standout startup, Bnoller from Samegrelo, led by eight young ABL community members, focuses on creating a unique decentralized social network with an integrated digital asset marketplace using blockchain technology. This innovation not only enhances digital asset security but also gives users control over their commercial activities, contributing to the growing Georgian digital asset market.

In Zugdidi, Nia Toloraias startup, which involves three young professionals from diverse backgrounds, aims to use a 3D printer to treat strabismus (a condition of misaligned eyes). Additionally, seven more startups, including Agrofly, ArchiMarket and Print Svaneti, led by young professionals, play a vital role in mitigating the outflow of youth from communities along the ABL, fostering regional sustainable development and motivation for young people to explore new opportunities. 

Sugu Yiriwa Facilitates the Sale of 2,500 Tons of Millet

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Since 1984, Sidiki Badian, a businessman from Koutiala, Mali, has sold cereal products for a livinga job he inherited from his father who was also a grain salesman. At first, his business model consisted of buying cereal during rural market days and reselling it for a profit in cities. He found opportunities to expand when he began collaborating with international development organizations in 2004.  

More recently, Badian participated in business trainings and trade events organized by the Feed the Future Mali Sugu Yiriwa activity, like stock exchanges and seed fairs, and he began selling some of his agricultural commodities through Sugu Yiriwa.

“Sugu Yiriwa brings together all types of agricultural actors,” he said. “Recently, I provided 88 tons of cereals and 200 tons of fertilizer.” 

Sugu Yiriwa is a five-year activity designed to strengthen market systems while sustainably improving household incomes and the nutritional status of women and children in Mali. Around $662,000 (400,000,000 FCFA) in agricultur

Sidiki Badian being interviewed at the start of Sugu Yiriwa activities to support community resilience in Sikasso, Mali.

al commodities was mobilized by the activity in 2022 to provide direct support to 3,183 people affected by the global food crisis and price shocks, reducing the risk of food insecurity and improving livelihoods.  

During the launch of these activities, Badian represented suppliers and highlighted his collaboration with Sugu Yiriwa to the former Minister of Rural Development, Modibo Keita, who attended the event. 

“Samples of my products were on the table,” he said. “There were food packages composed of cereal products, including millet, soy and peanuts.” 

With the Malian government banning cereal exports in 2021, Badian found himself with a significant amount of unsold stock. Until that point, a large portion of his revenue was made from exports.  

“Last year, I applied for public tenders from the department in charge of food security and it was only part of my maize stock that I was able to sell last September. Millet was not included,” he said.  

At the launch event, former Minister Keita learned that Badian had leftover stock of millet. Given domestic needs for cereal at a national level, the Minister initiated discussions for the Malian government to buy his remaining stock.  

“The next morning, an order came in from the Office des Produits Agricoles du Mali (OPAM),” Badian said, “and I received notification to ship 2,500 tons of millet, worth $1,134,722 (687,500,000 FCFA) to Mopti.”  

Badian contends that this contact with government officials, facilitated by Sugu Yiriwa, was directly responsible for this game changing order. 

“If not for these kinds of events, we rarely have the opportunity to meet and converse with the Ministers, let alone exchange contacts and benefit from business opportunities,” Badian said.  

By connecting producers, sellers and buyers, Sugu Yiriwa has driven a total of $2,736,279 (1,657,843,860 FCFA) in financial transactions in its second year. In addition to facilitating networking events, the activity has trained over 100 agricultural traders and suppliers. Badian is evidence that Sugu Yiriwa’s approach is helping to improve the organization of agricultural actors so they can improve food security, better meet the needs of the local market and expand regional sales. 

Happy Cows Make Happy Milk and Happy Milk Makes Happy People

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This season’s hay harvest is stacked high and fodder is tied in bales at Mathias Chuma’s homestead in Binga District, Zimbabwe. For the first time, Chuma and his family are using hay and fodder they grew, gathered and processed themselves to feed their five cows and 34 goats through the dry season. In this area, most livestock depend on finding wild grasses and pods on communal grazing areas for their nutrition. However, heavy use of grazing lands in this dry and fragile landscape, with only weak arrangements for collective grazing land management and recovery, is contributing to land degradation and depleting grazing resources over time. The USAID-funded Amalima Loko activity advises farmers on how to grow fodder crops and produce low-cost homemade feeds to reduce pressure on these grazing lands, to improve livestock condition and ensure livestock survival through the dry season and to increase availability of animal-source foods including milk and meat for local diets. 

Earlier in the year, Chuma was given fodder crop seeds by government extension services but was unsure how best to cultivate and use them as dolichos lablab (hyacinth bean) and sunn hemp were new crops to him. This led him to work with Amalima Loko, where he participated in trainings on cultivation and processing for fodder crops and learned about optimal feeding mixes for livestock nutrition. He also joined a “look and learn” visit organized by the activity to see other smallholder farmers where fodder crops are already being grown and processed. 

Chuma family’s fodder harvest.

He planted 0.5 hectares each of sunn hemp and lablab and, as the dry season progresses, is now reaping the rewards. By the end of the growing season, Chuma had harvested 550 bales (3,850 kilograms) of the new fodder crops. Now, in the dry season, he feeds each of his cows four kilograms of fodder daily. He has also been able to sell surplus fodder to other smallholder farmers in his community, having sold 70 bales at $3 each, and is using the $210 profit to help pay for his children’s education. 

“I was a bit skeptical growing fodder for the first time,” Chuma said. “However, now that I am feeding my cattle and goats, I have realized that I have been missing out on an easy way to keep my livestock healthy and in good condition. I do not have to worry about my livestock perishing from drought. The fodder is enough to take my livestock to the next rainy season.” 

From the outset, Chuma noticed an immediate increase in milk production from his cows—milk that his family consumes in addition to their normal dry season diet. His wife, Josephine Chuma, attests to how their family is benefitting from this: 

“Since we started feeding the cows with fodder, we have been consuming more milk than before because the cows are producing more,” she said. “The milking period has also extended. There is enough for us to use and we still leave ample for the calves to suckle.” 

Inspired by their success, other local farmers are now also interested in producing fodder for themselves next year. Chuma is sharing his experiences with other farmers and hopes that if they produce their own fodder, his community will become more resilient, with meat and milk production increasing and pressure on local grazing lands reducing. Together, the Chuma family and their neighbors are transforming the landscape in Binga District, increasing agricultural production, promoting sustainability of local natural resources and contributing to a brighter and future for their families and community. 

Harnessing Innovative Technologies and Business Linkages to Increase Food Security in Niger

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Agriculture technologies, farmer-to-farmer connections and access to markets are important determinants in ensuring that families and communities have access to a reliable source of quality food that is affordable. Business-to-business events strengthen linkages between market systems actors across locations, including input and technology suppliers, microfinance institutions, and farmers’ producer organizations. With the aim of increasing these important linkages, from June 6-8, 2023, USAID Yalwa facilitated the Technology and Innovation Market in Maradi, Niger to scale emerging innovative technologies to new potential users and to create business opportunities for market system actors, particularly youth, women entrepreneurs and people living with disabilities.

The Market showcased 26 producer organizations, 22 private enterprises, three NGOs (Catholic Relief Services, CARE International and ONG Niger Développement (N-DEV)) and the University of Maradi from the Dosso, Niamey, Maradi, and Zinder regions. Exhibitors promoted technologies related to food processing, animal production (e.g., small ruminants, poultry, livestock feed, poultry feed, technical inputs) and agricultural inputs (fertilizers such as locally produced natural rock phosphate). With over 207 exhibitors, USAID Yalwa’s collaboration with the Government of Niger and other USAID implementing partners (Sahel Collaboration and Communication, Livestock System Innovation Lab, and Youth Connect) contributed to the Market’s success. For example, N-DEV strengthened business relationships with individual buyers through the marketing of poultry incubators, dryers and mills and solar-powered irrigation pumps. Further, forty-six young entrepreneurs who were selected through Yalwa’s Marketplace Entrepreneurship and Youth Entrepreneurship for Rural Innovation in-kind grant funds established business relationships with exhibitors and increased their knowledge about innovative technologies.

Ali Sayabou, an entrepreneurial farmer from Yalwa’s grant program in the Maradi Region, was interested in the Market to see different incubator technologies for his chicken coop expansion.

“I was really impressed with Technology/Innovation fair this year. Exhibitors showcased an incredible array of advanced agricultural technologies. I particularly enjoyed the demonstration of the solar-powered irrigation pumps and the large incubators. The company representatives were very knowledgeable and ready to answer all my questions,” he said. “I would have liked to see more affordable specialized machines for small farms, but overall, it was a rewarding experience and I came away with lots of ideas to modernize my operation.”

To address the needs of farmer like Sayabou, USAID Yalwa has two funding programs for youth and women entrepreneurs, namely the Market Entrepreneurship Program and the Youth and Rural Innovation Entrepreneurship Program. These programs aim to provide farmers with equipment, agricultural processing products and training in several areas such as equipment maintenance, management, etc.

The Market exhibitors sold products and materials worth $6,743.90 (4,135,000 FCFA) over the course of the three-day event. Balami sheep and natural rock phosphate fertilizer were the most frequently purchased items by producer organizations, pointing to the strength of Yalwa’s partnerships with the University of Maradi and SOFIA S.A. As next steps, USAID Yalwa will monitor after-sale services and develop a joint plan with other implementing partners and stakeholders to scale the accessibility of technologies across partner projects’ intervention areas. The Technology and Innovation Market was such a success that many participants requested it be an annual event to continue the momentum of creating linkages across markets, businesses, and technologies.

Adaptive Management in Practice: Glola Natural Disaster

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The devastating landslide that struck the Shovi Resort on August 3, 2023, had an acute impact on the ABL (Administrative Boundary Line) community of Glola. Nearly all 110 households in the area were financially impacted by the disaster, as the village is reliant on tourists that vacation at the resort. Additionally, many tourism accommodation providers had previously taken out loans which could not be repaid due to the landslide’s impact on the tourism economy. 

The USAID Resilient Communities Program took quick action to support the continuation of businesses in the community, to maintain incomes and livelihoods and prevent the outmigration of disheartened residents of Glola. Within less than six weeks of the disaster’s occurrence, the Program designed and began implementing disaster response efforts. Specifically, the Program supported the local municipality to repair a water pipe headway in Glola that was destroyed during the landslide. It was urgent to repair the headway before winter, to prevent the village’s sole water source from freezing.  

The Program also rapidly designed a Request for Applications (RFA) to support the community’s tourism sector. This RFA will provide grants to guesthouses and local food and agricultural businesses that supply food to tourists (bakeries, restaurants and other suppliers of food). To develop the RFA, the Program first visited Glola to assess the needs of local businesses. During this visit, the Program determined that many potential grantees would struggle with submitting a grant proposal. In response, the Program adjusted its approach and simplified the grant application form. The program also adjusted content presented at the grant information session to allow potential applicants to discuss their ideas and gain a good understanding of what the Program can and cannot fund. 

Lastly, the Program reached out to TBC bank, which had collected donations from the public for response efforts in Glola. The bank committed $20,000 to the Glola RFA. Additionally, the Program has allocated around $100,000 to support Glola’s businesses and strengthen the resilience of their local economy.