Beginning in 2011, the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF) has normally had a Call for Proposals once a year. From the Call for Proposals 2018, the HMODF Student Grants Program provided start-up development grants to two projects.
- Breeding Goats and Cultivating Crops for Vulnerable Women from Mihigo Colline, Kayanza Province, Project Manager: Dieudonné IRAMBONA
- Farming Potatoes and Breeding Goats in Bukirasazi Commune, Gitega Province, Project Manager: Prosper NIYONGERE
The purpose of this newsletter is to provide an update, a progress report on each of the two development projects.
Breeding Goats and Cultivating Crops for Vulnerable Women from Mihigo Colline, Kayanza Province, Project Manager: Dieudonné IRAMBONA
This project supports an association of 15 women through cultivating crops, breeding goats and microfinancing. The aim of this project is to assist vulnerable women to reduce poverty in their families. The association is managed by officers (a president, the secretary and a treasurer). Every week, the president calls for a meeting of all the members to discuss the life of the association and the planned development activities for the association.
Members of the association grow mainly beans, corn and white potatoes. Women in the association are responsible for preparing the soil, sowing, weeding, fertilizing, harvesting and distributing the harvest from the crops. When they harvest crops, part of the harvest is shared among the association members, another part is kept for seed to be used for the next planting season and the rest of the harvest is sold for income for the association. For example, in the second cultivation season, the total of the harvest was 130 kgs of beans, 75 kgs were shared among the beneficiaries, 10 kgs were kept for seed and 45 kgs were sold to generate income for the association.
To maintain solidarity, fellowship, mutual concern and express love after a harvest, the members of the association prepare food and eat together.
The project started with 16 goats and now the project has a total of 38 goats. The beneficiaries own 30 of the goats and the association owns 8 of the goats. The goats provide much-needed fertilizer which serves to rehabilitate the women’s personal plots, thus making their fields more productive.
Each woman makes a weekly contribution of three hundred francs (300 BIF) to the association for microfinancing purposes. This money is used to provide loans to the women to start their own income-generation businesses or to attend to family needs. The money is reimbursed with 5% interest. The association has a bank account where the money is kept safely for the association.
Coming together and working together has helped the women. The association in the association strengthens social cohesion among the members and enhances unity within the members’ diversities. The women have set their own program for mutual help, especially in their cultivation activities. Each member of the association has set a day whereby the rest of the members of the association join her to cultivate her own field. This program is very beneficial for women in the association because it promotes team work and team membership and it relieves the women from straining too much during the cultivation seasons.
Training the women on Savings and Loans (SAL) has enhanced the financial capacity of the women in association. This SAL program was implemented to assist and support the women to start their own income-generating businesses.
Women have been taught the importance of having an account for microfinancing. Some of them thought that they are too poor to open an account. The training was provided in order to challenge their mindset and proceed with a change. With the little they contribute each week, the leaders of the association have opened a microfinancing account in the COOPEC-KAYANZA.
The association members participate in decision-making and decide on matters regarding the life of the association. They have elected their own leaders. They have been able to replace one of the leaders who didn’t participate effectively in the leaders’ meeting.
I feel empowered when I am in the association (said the woman standing in the picture below). I have learned several things. My husband respects me more because I am able to contribute something in the family. I have a positive relationship with him. The association has helped me both socially and psychologically. I am now integrated into the community when before I used to be lonely. Members of the association are now my sisters. The association has united us. There is no lonesomeness in this association.
Farming Potatoes and Breeding Goats in Bukirasazi Commune, Gitega Province, Project Manager: Prosper NIYONGERE
The association supports 15 vulnerable women through farming potatoes, breeding goats and microfinancing in Bukirasazi Commune, Gitega Province. The daily activities of the association are regularly supervised by the officers (a president, vice president, treasurer and secretary) who were elected by the members of the association themselves. The president organizes meetings to discuss the activities of the association and guide the rest of the team in the planning. Every week, members contribute 1000 BIF and the money is kept on the association’s account.
For the first cultivation of beans, the association harvested 185 kgs. For the next cultivation of beans, there was too much rain and it did not permit the crops to produce as expected. The harvest was kept for seeds because it was small to be divided among the beneficiaries.
Then the association rented two fields for white potatoes. The officers are in charge of searching for good and fertile land for cultivation. Women are responsible for preparing the land, planting seeds, weeding and taking care of the fields. The following picture shows the fields that were rented.
From the two fields, the association harvested 303 kgs of potatoes. The harvest was divided among the beneficiaries, each taking 20 kgs home. Again the rain did not allow members to get as large a harvest as expected but each member was advised to keep a small quantity of their potatoes for seeds.
The project started with 15 goats; one female goat for each of the association members. Now the project has a total of 22 goats with 20 being owned by individual women and 2 being owned by the association. The goats produce local manure which serves to rehabilitate the plots of the beneficiaries. Below is a picture of the beneficiaries and some of their animals.
Members regularly contribute a small amount of money which is kept in the association’s account for loans to members. The money provides loans and the loans help the members to start their own income-generating businesses or to assist their families in times of emergency. After one year, they divided the accumulated savings. In September 2019, each of the association members received 15,900 BIF.
Poor families now harvest crops together and now they own goats which was difficult before the start-up development grant. Working together has built mutual concern and sociability. The association members have learned how to save the little money they have and how they can start their own businesses to change their lives. It is hard for a poor person to get a loan from financial institution but now the women know that they can get a loan from their association.