USAID Empowers Self-Employed Women to Become Entrepreneurs

USAID Empowers Self-Employed Women to Become Entrepreneurs

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Five years ago, Hajira Beyene, and her family of 12 became beneficiaries of the Ethiopian government’s safety net program – an initiative that supports the poorest of the poor in food insecure districts of the country to help them meet their basic needs and become self-sufficient – in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). For 38-year-old Hajira, who is the head of her family, the 750 birr she received a month from the safety net program, along with food rations, was helpful, but far from enough.

Hajira knew she had to take matters into her own hands to ensure that her family would survive and escape poverty. She decided to start rearing and selling goats, by using one female goat that she received from a charitable organization known as Goal, and selling seasonal vegetables, which she planted in her yard when the rains allowed. Despite her efforts, lack of technical and business skills hamstrung Hajira’s efforts and left her without fair return, keeping her family reliant on the safety net program.

Hajira is one of the 63 women from the Amhara, SNNP and Tigray regions who received a four-month training on business management and leadership skills organized by USAID’s Agricultural Growth Program-Livestock Market Development (AGP-LMD) project from February to May 2015. The training taught the women how to become successful business operators by offering training in resource management, as well as improving their participation in the leadership and decision-making process of their businesses.

 

“The knowledge I gained from the training has entered my bones, not just my head,” Hajira siad.

 

The training has given her the confidence to take immediate action in purchasing one more goat for rearing by better managing some cash she had. “I purchased a new goat for 650 birr. She is expecting and will be giving birth in two months’ time, and the twin from the old goat will be ready for sale in a few months. Unlike before, I plan to sell them at a better price, and save the income from one of the goats’ sales, so that I can plan to build a better barn for the expansion,” said Hajira who mentioned lack of capital, as her main challenge.
According to Hajira before the training she never considered borrowing from the savings and credit association in her village for fear of not being able to pay back the money “Every 15 days, I contribute five birr to the association. If I borrow money, I need to pay it back within three months together with the interest based on the borrowed amount. My fear of doing so was always based on not having the source to pay back,” explained Hajira, who thinks that the training has now given her the self-confidence to overcome this difficulty as she will practice better financial management thanks to the knowledge she gained from the training.

As the safety net program of the government is set to terminate this year with a probability of being replaced with a different program, this training by USAID is a timely contribution to support Hajira’s transformation, and that of other women, into self-reliance. “There was a time when my first born had to drop out of school after he reached the ninth grade, because I couldn’t put him a school uniform. Although he is a year behind his class mates, I was able to work hard and send him back to school,” Hajira, who herself dropped out of school from the sixth grade as a result of unwanted marriage, said. She is firm in wanting to invest more in her children’s education, including her nine-year-old grandchild who is in the first grade, and whom she supports after he lost both of his parents at an early age.

Improving Livelihoods and Enterprise Development

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Overview:

The Improving Livelihoods and Enterprise Development Program (I-LED) was a three-year initiative to assist communities affected by the October 2005 Kashmir earthquake. I-LED focused on generating increased incomes, employment, and an improved asset base for the earthquake-affected populations in the Siran and Kaghan Valleys in North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Bagh District in Azad Jammu Kashmir (AJK). The Livelihoods component, completed in 2008, delivered replacements of key farming systems, capacity building, and reconstruction of affected infrastructure. Complementing these efforts, I-LED developed agricultural and tourism value chains that resulted in the creation and support of 3,082 new and existing enterprises that provided full-time equivalent employment to more than 4,914 individuals by the project’s conclusion.

Program Approach:

  • Worked with communities to identify and prioritize needs and provided support for communities to restore livestock and re-establish crop systems;
  • Promoted industries with growth potential by strengthening key subsectors through grants training and technical assistance, which led to increased competitiveness of local Pakistani enterprises;
  • Engaged community groups and government stakeholders to facilitate stronger public-private partnerships, supported a positive role for government in enterprise development, and helped producers and processors improve economic opportunities through formal organization;
  • Value-Chain Development & Enterprise Development:I-LED was built upon revitalized agricultural production that introduced sustainable value-adding activities such as milk collection schemes and potato seed storages that created market and employment opportunities for farmers. By organizing producers and processors into clusters and associations, CNFA increased opportunities for collective marketing and purchasing as well as group advocacy. I-LED sought to generate new employment and income opportunities, improve competitiveness of products and services, and increase access to markets by providing the resources necessary to develop value chains and establish new enterprises;
  • Forage Crops:I-LED supported “Cut and Carry” fodder projects for each of the 176 feedlot grant recipients to improve the availability of green fodder. Recipients participated in trainings on land preparation, seed sowing, and fodder management;
  • Dairy Sector Improvement:The dairy sector strategy was two-fold: increase the production capacity of dairy farms and develop clearly defined milk production zones within close proximity of major regional markets. Trainings were provided on proper animal care to increase the sustainability of impact in the dairy sector;
  • Small Ruminants and Poultry:CNFA designed and conducted numerous training activities for farmers and associations. I-LED awarded livelihoods and enterprise grants to restore livestock populations and improve the production capacity and quality of animal products;
  • Grants and Training: I-LED eventually transitioned toward economic value-chain and local economic development using enterprise matching grants, value-chain grants, and farm store grants;
  • Support of Women Entrepreneurs:I-LED involved women and men equitably in the community engagement process and women made up 28% of program beneficiaries who received direct training;
  • Community Organization & Association Development: The Local Economic Development component focused on strengthening clusters and associations by promoting teamwork, enhancing local decision making, and maximizing usage of local resources. I-LED established linkages between local banks, enterprises, and associations to provide better access to loans and business services for entrepreneurs;
  • Community Physical Infrastructure (CPI):To facilitate the transition from relief to economic development, I-LED restored and reconstructed numerous physical structures vital to local communities, such as irrigation structures, shops, and public facilities.

Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project

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Overview:

The goal of the Agricultural Support to Azerbaijan Project (ASAP) is to increase the incomes of agribusinesses and agricultural producers, with the purpose of accelerating the development of Azerbaijan’s non-oil economy. To accomplish this, CNFA will support the growth and expanded exports of agribusiness entrepreneurs through the utilization of local Business Service Providers (BSPs) and increased access to finance; by promoting improved production practices through strengthened extension services; and by facilitating a favorable business enabling environment through expanded dialogue and the use of analytical tools and training.

Program Approach:

ASAP, currently in the preparatory phase of implementation, will build on the successes of USAID’s support to agricultural producers and processors in Azerbaijan over the last 15 years. Various activities have strengthened the ability of domestic producers to meet international quality standards, increased exports, and fostered better supply and domestic market demand, in turn boosting employment and incomes. ASAP targets value chains with the highest economic potential including hazelnuts, pomegranates, orchard crops and vegetables. In specific, CNFA activities will:

  1. Assist growers and processors to adopt new technologies and techniques to increase the quality and quantity of production;
  2. Facilitate increased exports and enhanced domestic marketing through more rigorous food safety systems, packing, and post-harvest methods;
  3. Strengthen the linkages among actors in the respective value chains and foster cooperation through strengthened industry associations; and
  4. Build the availability, quality, capacity, and sustainability of Business Service Providers and public and private extension services.

For more information on up-to-date-impacts, please refer to the ASAP Impacts section of this page or contact the REAP team at nolgesashvili@cnfa.org.

Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program

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Overview:

From 2010 to 2013, the USAID-funded Kenya Drylands Livestock Development Program (KDLDP) addressed obstacles facing pastoralists in northeastern Kenya. USAID awarded KDLDP to CNFA through the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Leader with Associate Award (LWA) mechanism. With a total budget of approximately $10 million, the program’s main objective was to increase income and food security for pastoralist households in the districts of Garissa, Ijara, Mandera, Tana River, and Wajir.

Pastoralists in northeastern Kenya face obstacles such as poor access to inputs like animal feed and water, limited access to vaccines, poor linkages between producers and markets, and a lack of price transparency in their local markets. To address these problems, CNFA focused on the entire livestock value chain, connecting herders to markets, credit services, and livestock health inputs while also working to improve the policies that affect pastoralists. CNFA worked with key local partners like the Kenya Livestock Marketing Council (KLMC) and a Kenyan affiliate, the Agricultural Marketing Development Trust (AGMARK), to address short-term issues facing pastoralists and to lay a foundation for long-term, sustainable development.

KDLDP integrated cross-cutting themes such as gender, youth, and adaptation to climate change, and the project undertook baseline studies, including Household Income Surveys, a Gender Analysis study, and Environment Impact Assessments. These studies and assessments helped to inform local policy and support the continuity of future development initiatives in KDLDP’s target regions.

Program Approach:

  • Enhanced Livestock Trade and Marketing:CNFA mobilized groups including Livestock Marketing Associations (LMAs) to form larger commercially oriented associations of producer groups called Pastoralist Marketing Clusters (PMCs). PMC employees received Business Management Training (BMT) to improve the groups’ negotiation, documentation, record keeping, and bookkeeping skills. Recognizing that cultural implication would not allow the Muslim population in the area to access traditional banking loans, the program created the Community Owned Finance Institution (COFI), Kenya’s first Sharia-compliant Savings and Credit Cooperative Society (SACCOS). KDLDP also contributed to the National Livestock Market Information Systems (NLMIS) by providing weekly information from different markets within the program area. Key information generated from the data collected was broadcasted through the Wajir Community Radio and the Star FM radio stations;
  • Livestock Product Value Addition:CNFA identified initiatives that greatly improved the livelihoods of communities in the Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL) areas. Program staff worked with local groups to produce and market value-added products for niche markets, identify new market opportunities, conduct studies of new enterprises, support the financing of viable enterprises via grants and guaranteed loans, and support improved performance of existing enterprises;
  • Increased Livestock Productivity and Competitiveness:The Business Management Training (BMT) component of KDLDP equipped agro-dealers with the skills and knowledge to manage and stock their enterprises professionally, and to disseminate the techniques to pastoralists. CNFA also strengthened the ability of Kenya’s Ministry of Livestock Development (MoLD) to implement disease surveillance and better control livestock movements;
  • Facilitate Marketing and Livestock Development through Policy Change:KDLDP held policy dialogue meetings to discuss issues, build consensus, and prepare memoranda detailing constraints and policy suggestions on livestock development. CNFA hosted multiple activities to develop the capacity of the District Livestock Marketing Council (DLMC) and to equip pastoralists’ representatives with the necessary skills to participate in policy processes and advocate on behalf of their constituents;
  • Promote Strategies to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change:KDLDP equipped pastoralists with skills to combat disease epidemics that derive from climate change and more severe weather. The program provided support to the expansion of water harvesting and the mainstreaming of Community Managed Disaster Risk Reduction (CMDRR) in all program activities. In addition, KDLDP supported vaccination programs in areas where flooding may trigger Rift Valley Fever (RVF) and Hemorrhagic Septicemia.

Agricultural Market Development Trust

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Overview:

The Improving the Productivity and Incomes of Smallholder Farmers in Western Kenya initiative aimed to expand the agricultural input distribution system across four key districts of Bungoma, Bondo, Siaya, and Vihiga. This pilot project focused on the development of rural agricultural input stockists, accessible to smallholder farmers and local communities. Through its locally registered Kenyan affiliate AGMARK, CNFA addressed the constraints in the input distribution system to stimulate the flow of productivity enhancing inputs and provide increased production, food security, and incomes to smallholders.

Program Approach:

  • Built the capacity for stockists via training in both agricultural inputs, product knowledge and safe use, and business management. CNFA leveraged both “embedded” services provided by companies on products and independent trainers for teaching business management skills;
  • Drafted six new training modules comprised of Working Capital Management, Stock Management, Selling and Marketing, Costing and Pricing, Record Keeping, and Managing Relations and Networks (Supply Companies, Banks, and GOA Agencies) information;
  • Used a Financial Innovation Fund to provide partial guarantees to reduce initial risk for companies and wholesalers interested in selling to project-supported stockists.

Private Sector Development Initiative

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Overview:

The four-year, $12 million Private Sector Development Initiative (PSDI), was implemented by the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) with CNFA, International Executive Service Corps (IESC), and Citizens Development Corps (CDC) as subcontractors. The goal of the project was to help expand a competitive private sector in Iraq by offering business training and other business support services to Iraqi entrepreneurs. As the leader of the Value Chain and Marketing Development, CNFA identified, assessed, and analyzed market opportunities throughout the entire agricultural value chain to ensure that interventions were appropriately targeted. Our team developed a comprehensive agribusiness strategy that addressed agribusiness development needs, priority sectors, and specific interventions to strengthen weaknesses within specific value chains.

Program Approach:

  • Training: The training component of PSDI was geared toward improving business skills and knowledge among the SME sector of the Iraqi private sector as well as among local SME supporting institutions (banks, Chambers of Commerce, business associations, and training institutions, among others);
  • Technical Assistance: We provided technical assistance through the use of paid American and Iraqi consultants. The technical assistance component was designed to reinforce the skills developed in training programs and to complement the provision of grants when possible;
  • Grants: CNFA was responsible for the selection of grantees and disbursement of 347 separate grants packages.

Georgia Agricultural Risk Reduction Program

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Overview:

The USAID-funded Georgia Agricultural Risk Reduction Program (GARRP) impacted the needs of roughly 40,000 farm families in their recovery from the economic impact of the conflict. The project addressed crucial food security and income generation issues in the affected communities of the Gori, Kareli, and Kaspi districts.

Through GARRP, CNFA provided livelihood assistance to local farmers, as well as resettled internally displaced persons (IDPs) who had been issued agricultural land, to ensure successful spring crop planting and orchard assistance. In addition, CNFA operated a three-track voucher system for corn, orchards, and winter wheat.

Program Approach:

  • Higher Yields: Vouchers for seed, fertilizer, and machinery were distributed to more than 10,000 farm families (including 2,300 IDP families). CNFA mobilized local machinery service providers and organized the provision of plowing, cultivation, planting, and fertilizer application services;
  • Electronic Voucher Cards Modernized Orchard Production: More than 17,900 farm families received electronic voucher cards for orchard inputs to be used in eight retail locations;
  • Support Allowed Farmers to Harvest Winter Wheat: The third prong of the voucher program targeted families either late in receiving land or whose land had been recently decontaminated from unexploded ordinances, which distributed vouchers for seed and machinery services for 700 IDP families and 2,670 farm families.

At the end of fall 2009, the wheat planted at the beginning of the GARRP program was fully harvested, adding up to more than 41,000 metric tons and worth $10.1 million for program beneficiaries. Not only did this represent a vital return to self-sufficiency for the 7,862 wheat beneficiaries, but due to the failure of the wheat harvest in the east of the country, the total yield amounted to 2/3 of the total Georgian wheat harvest for the year, making it critical for the food security of the country as a whole.

In the last phase of the program, 32,000 farm families received vouchers to plant 2,750 hectares of winter wheat and 12,650 hectares of wheat fertilizer. Over 95,000 individuals benefited from the final phase, representing the completion of delivery of critical livelihood support to every farm and IDP family affected by the conflict.

Amalima

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Overview:

Amalima, a seven-year $60 million USAID Development Food Aid Program (DFAP) (2013-2020), worked with over 118,00 vulnerable households to sustainably improve household food security and nutrition in Zimbabwe’s districts of Bulilima, Gwanda, Mangwe (Matabeleland South) and Tsholotsho (Matabeleland North).

Amalima draws its name from the Ndebele word for the social contract by which families come together to help each other engage in productive activities such as land cultivation, livestock tending and asset building.

Program Approach:

  1. Improved Sustainable Access to and Availability of Food: Amalima promoted climate and conservation-sensitive agriculture practices and encouraged the adoption of improved agriculture and livestock production practices.
  2. Strengthened Community Resilience to Shocks: Amalima partnered with communities to improve livelihoods and build resilience by creating and strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR) committees through cash for asset activities, household asset vouchers and village savings and lending (VS&L) groups that promoted income generating activities and savings to build household resiliency.
  3. Improved Nutrition and Health: Amalima improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices, dietary diversity and micronutrient intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two by distributing supplementary feeding rations and enhancing nutrition care practices with a combination of capacity building, mentoring and community-based messaging delivered through care groups and community health clubs.
  4. Promoted Gender Equality: Amalima empowered women to play a key role in food security and resiliency at the household and community levels through increased access to and control over incomes, while promoting men and women to take increasingly equal responsibilities for both productive and reproductive activities.

Partners:

  • Organization of Rural Associations for Progress
  • Dabane
  • International Medical Corps
  • Africare
  • Manoff Group

Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth

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Overview:

The USAID Resilience and Economic Growth in the Sahel – Accelerated Growth (REGIS-AG) program (2015-2020) is designed to increase incomes of vulnerable households by improving the performance and inclusiveness of the cowpea, poultry, and small ruminant value chains. Implemented in Niger and Burkina Faso, REGIS-AG is one of many projects operating under USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative, supported by a consortium of partners and led by CNFA.

Program Approach:

  1. Resilience to Environmental, Security, and Economic Shocks: A key function of the project is to improve community resistance to shocks by sustainably rehabilitating markets, facilitating village-savings programs, and improving access to shared and household assets along three value chains: cowpea, poultry, and small ruminants;
  2. Facilitation Approach to Catalyzing Market Systems: REGIS-AG uses a “facilitation approach” that aims to improve the function of markets and create sustainable change without becoming embedded in the system. REGIS-AG also aims to identify opportunities through value chain and end-market analysis, and to strengthen relationships across its value chains;
  3. Strengthen Input Supply and Other Supporting Services to Improve Smallholder and Agro-pastoralist Access to Interconnected Markets: CNFA concentrates on improving the delivery of and access to veterinary services and feed provision centers for poultry and small ruminants, and improving the supply of agricultural inputs for cowpeas with a specific emphasis on Purdue Improved Cowpea Storage (PICS) bags for improved storage practices;
  4. Increase Access to Finance, Innovation, and Private Sector Investments: REGIS-AG works with private sector investments to design and market financial products that will expand access to services, particularly for women. It also works to improve the enabling environment for local and regional private sector investment by building the trust between value chain actors and increasing their voice at the policy level;
  5. Gender and Women’s Empowerment: REGIS-AG employs a comprehensive approach to engage both men and women in overcoming structural biases and barriers in the three target value chains through education and integration into the formal market economy.

Partners:

Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Association Nigérienne pour la Dynamisation des Initiatives Locales (Karkara), Association for Catalyzing Pastoral Development in Niger (AREN), Association Nodde Nooto (A2N), and the Association pour la Gestion de l’Environnement et le Développement (AGED).