Four years ago City A.M. readers generously gave to the ‘Roots of Change’ Opportunity International appeal. In partnership with the UK government, who matched every donation, it raised an incredible £7.4 million!
So, how has the money been used?
Two-thirds of African farmers live in poverty and half are women, yet women produce on average 23-66% less than men. Female farmers are disadvantaged due to cultural, social and economic barriers that stop them from growing sustainable and prosperous smallholdings. The three-year Roots of Change project sought to overcome these barriers in Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by:
- Providing tailored financial products and services to rural women.
- Training rural communities in skills to improve their farm’s efficiency, yield and income.
- Increasing rural female participation by challenging cultural norms and enhancing women’s decision-making power in the family and community
Despite the global challenges throughout the last few years, the results have been staggering …
- Incomes increased: Over 12,000 female farmers have improved their farms and increased their incomes.
- Empowerment increased: More than 12,000 women attended workshops and training to build their self-confidence.
- Resilience increased: More than 15,200 women have opened secure savings accounts, improving their ability to smooth out dips in income during the ‘lean season’.
- Financial Knowledge increased: Over 13,700 rural women received financial training enabling them to budget and manage household income.
The human faces behind the figures
Phiolomene is one of the thousands of women who have benefited from your support. Philomene lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo with her children and grandchildren, and has been farming most of her life. She works alongside other women and uses the money from her farm to educate and support her family.
“I completed three trainings with this project. The first was a gender training, the second was Good Agricultural Practice, and the third was a financial literacy training.
The biggest thing I took away from the finance training was budgeting. Before, I didn’t know how to plan ahead or predict my expenses and income, I would just spend whatever money I got. But now, I know that I need to budget for everything; like buying seeds, paying my farm labourers, everything. I also learnt about the importance of saving. Now, after I make a profit, I immediately save 25% to pay back my loan. Then I also have extra savings for healthcare.
I also learnt a lot about diversifying crops and how to create a drainage system when the river rises, so the beds are elevated. In the past, everything would drown. The harvest would be completely destroyed every rainy season.
My income has drastically improved. In the past I used to sell around £11 worth of cassava leaves. After the training, I now sell £25 worth.”
Back in 2017 your donations were matched by the UK government to deliver this project and as a result, over 61,500 family members have now benefited from jobs, improved nutrition, healthcare and education because of it.
By giving people like Philomene a hand up, not a hand out, you have enabled people living in poverty to take control of their own lives and work towards a better future with dignity and confidence.
Thank you readers of City A.M for your generous support.
If you would like to find out more about Opportunity International, please visit www.opportunity.org.uk
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