NEWSLETTER: Starting Agriculture Development Projects without Any Grant Money

As you probably know, our main business is to provide one-time, start-up grants to selected development projects proposed by students and graduates of Hope Africa University who become volunteer Project Managers. Almost all of our projects are agriculture development projects and involve organizing an association of poor and vulnerable women to become self-supporting, self-managing, self-governing and self-sustaining through crop cultivation, animal husbandry and micro-financing. Overall, our projects have been very successful, long-lasting and produced great development results. Of course, there are significant limits to the number of projects that can be given a grant.

Recently, two of our experienced volunteer Project Managers have successfully developed two new project associations and successfully developed two new agriculture development projects without any grant money, thus proving that skilful, committed and creative volunteer Project Managers can help poor, vulnerable would-be beneficiaries develop agriculture development projects without any grant and without any money.

This Newsletter is dedicated to highlighting the work of two of our Project Managers and the work of the members of the two new associations that have started two new agriculture development projects without a grant or any money. This Newsletter tells the story and it describes the methods for starting new self-supporting agriculture development projects.

  • Microfinancing Development Project at Giharo-Muzye in Rutana, Project Manager: Barthélemy MINANI 
Barthélemy MINANI, Project Manager
  • Microfinancing and Cultivating Cabbages at Kizunga, Nyabiraba, Project Manager: Désiré NSENGIYUMVA 
Project Manager, Désiré NSENGIYUMVA



Barthélemy’s first project began in his home province in 2014; Farming Peanuts with Landless Women in Giharo, Rutana. The project had one successful harvest of peanuts but the project ended in 2015 when there was political unrest in Burundi and the beneficiaries abandoned the project and returned to refugee camps in Tanzania. Barthélemy continued to work with the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund by assisting Project Manager Kilongo with reporting on his project (Welding Workshop at Buterere, 2014). Barthélemy MINANI became a Project Manager again when he received a grant for his second proposed development project (Supporting and Sustaining the Livelihood of Widows and Orphans at Rubirizi, 2019). When the original Project Manager unexpectedly resigned from his project in early 2020 (Supporting Batwa Women in Breeding Goats and Cultivating Rice at Rubirizi in Mutimbuzi Commune, 2018), Barthélemy willingly agreed to become the Project Manager.

Shortly after Barthélemy’s first project ended, he told me that he and his wife, Pascasie, had talked about the project that came to a sudden stop and he wanted me to know that he and Pascasie were committed to replacing the project somehow, sometime in the future. I told this to one of our other Project Managers and he said, “Well, he might have said that but he will never do it.” Well, Barthélemy has done it! Barthélemy has replaced the old project in Rutana with a new project in Rutana.

To commend, reinforce and encourage the fine work of the Project Manager and the association members, Dieudonné IRAMBONA, Program Coordinator, and John McCready, Founder and Program Director for the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund, made the long trip to Rutana with  Barthélemy MINANI, Project Manager, to visit the project site and the project beneficiaries.

New Project Title: Microfinancing Development Project at Giharo-Muzye in Rutana

Project Manager: Barthélemy MINANI 

Barthélemy MINANI: Committed Volunteer Project Manager

Barthélemy MINANI is a graduate of Hope Africa University with a Bachelor’s Degree from the Department of Social Work and Community Development and he is nearing completion of the Master’s Degree in Community Development at Hope Africa University. Barthélemy is working for a development organization known as Dutabarane.

For the past eight years, Barthélemy has been a Project Manager for agriculture development projects that began with start-up grants from the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund.

  • Supporting and Sustaining the Livelihood of Widows and Orphans at Rubirizi (2019), Barthélemy MINANI
  • Supporting Batwa Women in Breeding Goats and Cultivating Rice at Rubirizi in Mutimbuzi Commune (2018), Barthélemy MINANI
  • Farming Peanuts with Landless Women in Giharo, Rutana (2014), Barthélemy MINANI

Starting an Association and Micro-financing 

By the beginning of 2020, six single, poor and jobless young women in Rutana, who had recently completed secondary school, had come together for the purpose of trying to improve their future by trying to start a development project. They knew about Barthélemy and so they contacted him and asked him to help them start a project. Barthélemy told them that he could not do anything for them but he could and he would help them help themselves.

Barthélemy encouraged them and explained that they would need to work together to become self-supporting and self-sustaining; he advised them to develop a self-help association and, according to their capacity, to develop some self-help micro-financing capital so they could start their first income-generating businesses. They immediately agreed and they established an association of the six women and added one young man in the same situation. They all agreed to develop a micro-financing fund by each association member contributing 500 francs each week.

Happy Beneficiaries

When the association members’ micro-financing fund reached 30,000 francs, they used the money to buy all of the avocadoes from one tree for one season. As the avocadoes ripened, the 7 members divided the avocadoes and went into separate nearby neighborhoods and sold the avocadoes. By the end of the season, they had 100,000 francs in their micro-financing fund.

The beneficiaries continued contributing money each week and sold amaranth, bananas and sugar cane and worked for other farmers to acquire more money. Their capital grew to 250,000 francs. When plenty of corn was being harvested and sold in the area and the price was relatively low, the beneficiaries bought corn.

Bags of Corn

The corn was stored for some time and when the price of corn increased, the association members sold the corn for a significant profit.  At this point, the beneficiaries had accumulated a total 300,000 francs.

Farming Beans 

With coaching from Barthélemy, the Project Manager, the association members used some of their capital to become involved in crop cultivation; they rented two fields for cultivating beans. The beneficiaries served as the voluntary workforce for the cultivation that included preparing the land, planting the beans, fertilizing the fields, weeding the fields and harvesting the beans.

One of Two Big Fields of Beans
Project Manager, Barthélemy, and Association Members
Weeding the Beans
Weeding the Beans

For this harvest of beans (and as they will do for future harvests), the association members shared 40% for themselves and their families, saved and stored 20% for seed and sold 40% for the continuation of self-supporting crop cultivation.

Raising Pigs

When Barthélemy reported his work on the new project to the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund (HMODF), the Founder and Program Director, Dr. John McCready, congratulated Barthélemy and the beneficiaries and welcomed them into the family of HMODF agriculture development projects. By preparing and submitting Satisfactory Progress Reports, the association became eligible and received a Small Additional Grant (a misnomer in this case).

Presenting Small Grant Money to the Beneficiaries
Counting the Small Additional Grant Money

As expected, the association members invested the Small Additional Grant money in getting a start in animal husbandry; they bought their first pig.

Association’s First Pig
Beneficiaries Admiring  Their First Pig

A bit later, the association members sold their first pig for a good profit so they could buy two small female piglets. After buying the piglets, they deposited the remaining pig money in the association’s micro-financing fund.

Two New Piglets (which ones?)

When the piglets mature and produce piglets of their own, the associates will share 50% of them and the association will keep the other 50% and, when necessary and desirable, the association will sell pigs to support additional business investments and expenses such as buying the seeds, fertilizers, renting the fields for crop cultivation and purchasing some medicines for the pigs belonging to the association.

Challenges and Opportunities 

The greatest challenge for this development the project was that it started without any money. At the same time, starting without any money provided the association members with the opportunity to demonstrate to themselves and to others that when people work together, income-generation and development can begin and grow without any grant money.

In addition, real development projects demonstrate the importance and feasibility of working together to be become self-supporting, self-governing and self-sustaining. True community development projects have the power to address and alleviate community problems such as poverty, hunger, malnutrition and sickness.

According to Barthélemy, there are already strong indications that a couple of other groups are interested in starting agriculture development projects in Rutana.

Future Plans and Perspectives

For the future, the association plans to continue strengthening their association and expanding their micro-financing, crop cultivation and animal husbandry.

In the future, the association members hope to rent a small building where they can start and develop a store as an ongoing, income-generating business.



Although Désiré had previously shown interest in becoming a Project Manager with the Haley McCready Outreach and Development, he was successful in becoming a Project Manager for his first project in 2019; Pigs Husbandry, Potatoes and Cabbage Plants in Kizunga Colline in Nyabiraba Commune. At the beginning of 2022, Désiré began talking to a group of poor women who were interested in improving their lives and the lives of their families. The women wanted and needed to develop an agriculture development project and they wanted Désiré to help them. He wanted to help the women but no grant money was available. Désiré and the women decided to proceed without any money.

Désiré told the women that if they wanted an agriculture development project they would need to develop a self-help association and a self-help micro-financing fund. The association was established and the members began making small contributions to develop micro-financing capital. Soon, the women had a Project Manager, an association and a little money; they had the beginnings of an agriculture development project and were able to get involved with crop cultivation.

New Project Title: Microfinancing and Cultivating Cabbages at Kizunga, Nyabiraba

Project Manager: Désiré NSENGIYUMVA

Désiré, Dedicated Volunteer Project Manager

Désiré NSENGIYUMVA is a graduate of Hope Africa University with a degree in Economic Sciences. For more than three years, Désiré has been the successful Project Manager for a successful, self-supporting agriculture development project that began with a one-time, start-up grant from the Haley McCready Outreach and Development Fund.

  • Pigs Husbandry, Potatoes and Cabbage Plants in Kizunga Colline in Nyabiraba Commune (2019), Désiré NSENGIYUMVA

Starting an Association and Micro-financing 

In order to set up an association, Désiré, the Project Manager, used the same tactics he used for his other successful project at Kizunga Colline. He talked with women and helped them to understand that everything has to start somewhere, somehow. He told them that working together is more beneficial more than working alone. He added the advantages of working together as women; when the women are together, the whole community is present. The vulnerable women supported the idea, organized an association and named it TWITEZIMBERE, meaning living from our own efforts or “Let us develop ourselves.”

The association members; the project beneficiaries, are 8 poor and vulnerable women, 20 to 40 years old who all live in KIZUNGA Hill. The women agreed on the rules and regulations of the association; elected a president, vice-president, treasurer-secretary and advisor; and, they all agreed on the core principles of becoming self-supporting, self-managing, self-governing and self-sustaining.

Since no start-up grant money was available, Desire encouraged the women to work together and make some small weekly financial contributions in order to develop a micro-financing fund. The association members agreed to contribute five hundred Burundian francs (5OO BIF) each week.

They decided that initially the micro-financing money would be used to support development activities and, later, it would support loans for individual members who want to pursue income-generating activities for themselves and their families.

To acknowledge, recognize and reinforce the fine work of the Project Manager and the association members, Program Director, Dr. John McCready; Program Coordinator, Rev. Dieudonné IRAMBONA; and, Project Manager, Mr. Barthélemy MINANI visited the project site late in the day on their way back from Rutana.

Dieudonné, Désiré, Some Beneficiaries and Barthélemy

Cultivating Cabbages

After a while, the association members decided to enlarge the project and become involved in crop cultivation. As a new project with no external start-p grant, they did not have the money to rent a field but two of the association members offered to loan the project the use of their small fields for the first season. The women had previously decided to delay taking personal loans from micro-financing fund and, instead, they used the collected money to buy cabbage plants and fertilizers. The women worked as their own workforce for preparing the fields, planting the cabbage plants, fertilizing the plants and weeding the fields.

Désiré and Two Happy Beneficiaries
Weeding One of Two Cabbage Fields
Big Cabbages in Small Photo

The association members took good care of the cabbage fields and they had a good harvest from the two small fields. After the first harvest, the beneficiaries sold all the cabbages to get enough money to be able to rent their own large field for the next season. In the future, half of the harvests will be shared among the women and their families and the other half will be sold to continue with self-supporting crop cultivation and other development activities.

Future Plans and Perspectives

As the development project started with no start-up grant, there are some development activities that cannot be performed right at the beginning (e.g., taking personal loans, renting fields and buying animals). However, the women established an association, developed a micro-financing fund and successfully cultivated and harvested two small fields of cabbages. After the first harvest, the beneficiaries sold all the cabbages to get money to rent their own field for the next season. They plan to rent a big field; bigger than the two small fields they had. They are strongly committed to development and they believe that a change will happen. After the second harvest; the next harvest, they will share 50% and sell 50% of the total harvest of cabbages. They will use the larger amount of money to continue with cultivating cabbages and to begin animal husbandry by purchasing a female pig for the association.


One of the officers of the association named NDAYISHIYE Mediatrice reported to the Project Manager in the following words:

I am very pleased to see that we are working together as sisters with one heart and the same feelings. We are complying with the name of our association (TWITEZEIMBERE, “Let us develop ourselves.”). The development started by working together. As we worked together, we shared experiences and changed our thinking. We appreciate your work, Désiré NSENGIYUMVA, you thought about us. Your willingness to invest in women is a heavenly gift. We thank God for you. We hope everything will be all right as we continue working and advising each other. We are going to apply everything you trained us to do. We are going to continue to support each other so that everyone will benefit from our unity. We thank you, we love you and we are glad to have you in our journey of development (text translated from Kirundi to English by our Program Coordinator, Dieudonné IRAMBONA).

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