Economic Development Blogs

Women's Agricultural Development Program Launched in Tanzania

Africa Circle of Hope is now working with women's groups in Kilema Kaskazini, Moshi, located near the slopes of Kilimanjaro in Northern Tanzania. These communitities have a large population living below the poverty line.

Most are farmers with an average of one acre of land. Many are single mothers. They cannot afford the high cost of quality seeds and the fertilizer, fungicide and insecticide that are essential to successful farming in this rugged area.

ACOHF provides these items and agricultural training to help these women raise a variety of nutritious food for their families and earn a small income selling some of their produce.

This program, which began in 2008, will improve their overall quality of life and contribute to local economic development. The initial group of 40 women will be self-sustaining within the next year.

Women's Agricultural Development Progam in Kenya

The current food shortage in Kenya makes this program even more critical to nutrition and health in this rural area, where most people are living in poverty. Three women's groups in Meru are part of the initial program. ACOHF provides funds for seedlings, fertilizer, insecticide, hose pipes, sprinklers and basic agricultural training for the women.

One entrepreneurship group decided to plant bananas as their main crop. Other groups include widows and single mothers planting a variety of vegetables in one or two-acre plots. This will not only give them more nutritious food for their family but also generate some small income.

All the women are encouraged by this program and want to learn more about nutrition entrepreneurship opportunities with food processing. These initial groups should be self-sustaining within a year.

Makena Textile Workshop (Meru, Kenya)

The workshop was started to improve the quality of life for the women in Meru.

The Makena Textile Workshop was started in 1979 when a group of women from churches in Meru, Kenya, joined together in an entrepreneurial business initiative to improve their quality of life, support their children, and contribute to the local economy in this poor rural area. The group of 21 women members/owners have continued the business and invested toward the purchase of the warehouse shed where they work. When we first met with them in 2007 they were struggling after years of limited sales and often no salary.

ACOHF provided funds for new equipment, boilers and an industrial sewing machine, entrepreneurship training and marketing strategies that increased sales and allowed the members to take a salary. “You have given us hope,” the women said. “This year we had a Christmas.” ACOHF has been working in partnership with the women at Makena Textile Workshop in Meru for more than seven years to help them sell their rugs and fabric and develop new products. The women have enhanced their tie-dyed products and also innovated with different types of fabrics, multicolored designs and natural dyes. They continue to make distinctive household items from these fabrics including tablecloths, napkins, placemats and drapes.

In 2013 these artisans have for the first time created intricate patterns of color on silk scarves. This initiative offers some opportunities for new partnerships and distinctive one-of-a-kind artistic products. The women have also placed their products in home goods stores in Nairobi and have delivered some limited customized work for national and international customers.

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