November Project Roundup: New Businesses in Bauya, Selling Shoes in Honduras, VSLAs Saving Members Money
November 18, 2015
We are now working with 98 people through VSLA groups, 34 of them women.We are finding it slightly harder to involve women than men, because most women farmers see themselves too busy at home, in the field and in their trading businesses to commit to a weekly meeting. However, we are hearing about some excitement around the access to less expensive seeds through volume buying, made possible by participation in the VSLA. We are hopeful that word of this benefit will encourage others to participate, especially women.
As of November 6, 2015, Sierra Leone has been declared Ebola free! Having gone 42 days without a single new case of the disease, the country has finally achieved Ebola-free status. We thank God for an end to this devastating year, and stand with our friends as they work hard to rebuild their economy.
With the culmination of a three-year pineapple farm project, we are excited to see what our friends in Bauya will do now. While our original goal of selling five acres of pineapples (about 90,000 fruits) was derailed by the nation’s year-long Ebola epidemic, dozens of local workers acquired valuable job skills while they were earning an income, but most importantly, they were inspired and enabled to envision possibilities for themselves.
Former long-time employee Ibrahim Siaka has planted his own pineapple farm, using the discarded pineapple crowns and the knowledge he gained from working on the Just Hope pineapple farm to start a business for himself. Others, encouraged by earning a steady income, are entering into other ventures, such as goat farming. Our boots on the ground in Bauya, Sullay Turay and Joe Lassayo, have shifted from crew management to business mentoring, and we are excited to report that Sullay and Joe have purchased and delivered 17 goats (by motorbike!) to former employees.
We are on the cusp of beginning a project in Lunsar, about an hour north of Bauya in Sierra Leone. Through trusted partners who have spent years cultivating relationships in this area, we have met with local pastors, who in just five years have planted 50 churches and founded 20 schools. Members of the Just Hope leadership team will depart for Lunsar soon to continue building our own relationships with these pastors and communities looking for economic development opportunities as well as demonstrating conservation agriculture techniques that have been proven to be of value in this region. Local contacts are helping to gather supplies in anticipation of that demonstration.
Carolina Patino, our life skills education manager, has received all of the curriculum modules. We will meet with her soon to cement a plan for rolling out the classes.
We have just launched an economic opportunity out of El Progreso that involves shoe retailing. We have sent one shipping container full of shoes of two grades (new and gently used) to groups of entrepreneurs who will buy the shoes in small batches at wholesale prices and sell them at retail prices, keeping the profit for themselves. The micro-economic venture is based on a hub-and-spoke model, where entrepreneurs purchase the shoes in El Progreso and fan out to small markets in rural areas outside the city, where shoes of all types and sizes are in high demand.
We anticipate selling shoes to 15-20 entrepreneur groups, representing 50-60 people, whose household income could be significantly improved by this opportunity. Our goal in year one is to send two containers, and our goal in year two is to send three.
Also in El Progreso, we have begun survival skills training for at-risk boys who are entering adulthood. Many of them are hungry for an alternative to the gangs that dominate their neighborhoods, and we are working with local Raul Carrasco, a Christian man who is bringing young men to Jesus by nurturing mind, body, and soul.