Rural Families Empowerment Project
Empowers rural persons, their families and communities by creating wealth and entrepreneurs and building capacity in a green manner.
I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.
Initiative for Promoting Better Yields for Farmers (IPBYF)
Established (the solution has passed the previous stages and demonstrated success)
Annual budget in 2017 (USD)
Number of beneficiaries impacted so far
Nonprofit, NGO, or citizen sector
Headquarters location: Country
Headquarters location: City
Nigeria : Makurdi
Location(s) of impact
Nigeria 1: Makurdi
Paying for harvested Honey: At harvest, each woman is paid for the honey harvested from the hive(s) on her trees. The honey from each hive is harvested separately into a bucket, weighed and the benefiting women are paid the monetary equivalent. The women are happy to have the money (which they badly need) and the product off-taker is happy to acquire high quality raw honey---a win-win-win scheme for us, the women and the product off-taker. Payment for the honey is at prevailing market rates.
Conditions of Beneficiaries: As a baseline, this picture captures the condition of the people we work with. All the people are poor, living on less than US$2 a day! Most families are large (averaging 7 kids/woman) with few thatch houses for residence and are crop farmers surviving on the produce and selling the remnants. Most of the children are school dropouts and often get married between the ages of 13 to 15 years. Some teenage boys in schools are married with children of their own!
Savings Group leaders: Once we cluster the women into savings groups, we teach them how to select credible leaders to manage the groups. This is crucial for the sustainability of the groups. It also takes care of the issue of trust, the women handle their money themselves. We trained the selected leaders to organise and manage the group while remaining accountable. We don't impose leaders. The leaders act as liaisons for the women. We use experienced leaders to train leaders in new sites.
A widow with 2 of her children: This widow has 7 children to raise and educate! That is not an easy task in the village where farm work brings in just enough for the family to feed. This is further complicated by her widowhood. We empowered her with 2 hives. At harvest, she earned enough money from the sell of the honey in her hives to pay the fees of her last 2 children for one term in school. "With more hives, I will be in a position to pay the whole year's school fees!" was her comment.
Adestav Savings Group: The picture is the inaugural meeting of the savings group. 160 women were mobilised and joined this group. More than half of the members of the group are married teenagers or what we call the "married child". These are "child soldiers" equivalent, but in the war against poverty! Children who should be in schools are busy making babies! We work to empower them in their context. We can't undone the past but we can ensure a secured future for these "married children".
Trained Apicultural Technicians: In each village, the women nominate young men for training. African bees are hostile and need to be handled by trained personnel only. We organise beekeeping lessons for the young men and train them on-the-job as we work with them for at least one year. We teach them how to use our specially designed tools for hanging hives on trees without climbing, how to diagnose and solve problems, harvest honey, manage an apiary, select good sites, manage people etc.
A business at work: A beneficiary who took a loan of US$20 from the savings group was into fish selling in her village but her business had collapsed by the time we arrived at her village with the scheme. She joined, accessed the first set of loans and rejuvenated her business. Her business did not just get a reinvestment, it is growing and she is full of praises. In the 3 years since we piloted the scheme, we have similarly empowered 45 women from communities where the scheme is in place.
An entrepreneurship class: We use the savings forum as a platform to impart business development, financial education, social and environmental values. We teach the value of saving, how to access loans, setting seasonal calendars, how to start a business, what business to select, etc. We teach the women how to be good wives and mothers. From our day to day interaction with the women, we are able to imbibe a wealth creation mentality instead of the present dependence on handouts.
A typical village savings meeting: We group the women into savings groups. They meet regularly and save money, each according to her ability. The saved money is then loaned to interested members. The loans are used exclusively for entrepreneurship purposes or for paying children's school fees. Collateral for accessing loans is group guarantee. In this way, we have been able to create a savings and loan scheme without outside funds for the women to access right there in their natural context.
A woman empowered by our hive: We provided the hive at no cost to her (she couldn't have afforded it) and she provided a tree and security for the hive. The hive is suspended on a tree on her land. At harvest time, our trained technicians harvest the honey. The harvested honey is weighed and she is paid according to the quantity of honey in her hive. The scheme product off-taker pays for the honey. This way, women are empowered to earn money so that they can also contribute to family upkeep.
Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?
Family empowerment:- In rural north central Nigeria, the polygamist husband, wives and children work on the farm but the culture is such that the husband owns all the produce generated. The wives and children work without remuneration. This leaves the well-being of the family at the mercy of the men. The men would rather use the family income on alcohol or marry more wives (making more child brides). The women and children have no choice, no voice, no skills, no capital and no hope of breaking the cycle of poverty.
Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?
Our solution is the honey value chain. We work on transforming poor families by providing a source of income that is independent of the men. We harness a vast natural resource. We improve on all the weak links in the current honey production and marketing. We do not neglect the worldview of beneficiaries.
We make the participating women actors in the value chain by empowering them with beehives. We group the women in clusters which serve as savings groups and honey collection centres. We use the clusters' meetings as a platform to generate funds, make entrepreneurs, create wealth/jobs, teach business & financial independence, impact moral, social and environmental values, develop capacity, etc.
Our innovation is that instead of waiting for government, outsiders or handouts, we work with the poor to look inward for solutions to poverty. Most of the women are young girls, we work by placing resources at the disposal of these empowered "child brides" in our war against poverty.
Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work
The 3 years pilot scheme produced the following impacts: (1) We created 45 entrepreneurs in businesses other than crop farming (2) 233 (approx. 30% of the total) women are participating in savings (3) Over 100 loans were taken from the internally generated funds (4) All the 100 loans were repaid without default (5) By April 2017, 18 sets of school fees were paid from loans taken from the savings (6) Savings groups turnover increased to over US$5,000 by last December (7) A total of 8 Apicultural technicians were trained (7) 6 savings group leaders were trained (8) Children were retained in school because their fees were paid from honey value chain related income (9) About 2000kg of honey was harvested last March and the women earned $1,000 from the sales (10) Fewer women now sell charcoal and firewood, the 2 activities that destroys the environment.
These impacts were achieved in 2 sites with 350 beehives. As we scale up, these impacts will be replicated in all the new locations.
Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?
Current funding is: Grants (60%) and contributions from friends & family (40%). The long-term financial sustainability plan is guaranteed by the arrangement with the products off-taker. Once the women are able to produce and supply honey from 13,000 beehives, the off-taker will in turn be adding 2,000 beehives yearly to the scheme. The off-taker assumes the role of providing for the depreciation, replacement and expansion of the beehives once the scheme is stabilised. The number of beehives that will make the scheme financially sustainable is 13,000 and funding for this is planned through grants.
Our inability to generate funds for the initial 13,000 beehives is a risk. We mitigate by broadening our funding base by adding 2 more donors (those passionate about what we do) by 2019.
Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?
Initiatives model "don't give the poor fish, teach them how to fish" theory. Most times, this fails because when the change agent leaves, the poor can 'fish' but have no 'fishing lines' to 'fish'. We operate on “don’t give the poor fish and don’t only teach them how to fish, rather go fishing with them”.
A competitor, A and Shine Foundation just train beekeepers, we do more by providing the missing links of beekeeping with the women.
The prize will empower us to go "fishing" with the poor.
Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.
I am from a very poor rural village, the only one to get education among 7 siblings and the second graduate in the village. Now every time I travel back to the village, people back there meet me with all kinds of requests. Chief among them are: (1) they always ask for money to solve a problem after narrating a miserable story of their predicament (2) Virtually every one wants me to take his/her child back to the city. But I don't have the resources to meet all the needs and it pains me that I am powerless. On a trip to Zambia, I saw how a value chain was used to empower poor people right there in their context. It occurred to me that I could empower my people (and other similar communities) by setting up empowerment schemes right there in their context. I don't have to keep giving money and moving children to the city. Next was to design and pilot the honey value chain.
Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?