"My name is Fatima and I am 28 years old. I am married and have three children and live in Midelt, a small town in central Morocco.
"I live with my family in a household composed of eight family members. In order to meet the needs of my family, I decided to create a small business with my sister-in-law.
Youness Ouzzine, 28, studied in a vocational training center after high school and got his diploma as a drafting technician for construction. Youness lives with his brother and mother in a village called Ain Cheggag, near Fes.
"The three-day training in financial education and entrepreneurship offered by ARDI in partnership with MEDA Maroc was really important to all the youth who benefited from it in this rural, neglected village. The training helped me to learn about budgeting, saving and how to start my own business," said Youness.
Now in his late twenties, Abderrazak Elghoudani left high school in order to work and help his family. He lives with his parents and his wife in Biougra, a village near Agadir in southern Morocco. When he was interviewed, Abderrazak and his wife were expecting a baby.
Nezha Bensaki, 27, left secondary school in order to help her family. She lives with her mother and five siblings."The idea of opening a hair salon started when my mother fell ill and we find ourselves with no one to take care of us financially. I was obliged to leave high school and went to study hairdressing in Meknes (a big city in eastern-central Morocco) for 2 years. After the training, I worked at home and started to be known in Boumia (remote village in the eastern Morocco)."
In the small village of Goima, 30 km from the nearest town, in Dodoma Region, Mr. Abtwalib R. Dinya serves the many villagers that enter his small shop. As one of the few retailers in his village, Mr. Dinya stocks his shop with everything from toys for kids, to salt and sugar, to lotion and soap. While these goods do provide for the needs of his community, what he enjoys most of all is his involvement in the Tanzania National Voucher Scheme (TNVS) through his sales of LLIN bed nets.
At the time of meeting Mr. Dinya, he explained that he had owned his shop for many years however his involvement in the Hati Punguzo program began in 2007 when he signed up to be a TNVS retailer. Mr. Dinya expressed that the net business was extremely motivating for him because he felt he was able to support and give back to his community in a meaningful way.
As early as 7am on any given day, Terry Simaanya can be found at his red shipping container located at the bustling mini-bus station and market of Chipata compound in Lusaka. The container is overflowing with crates of Coke, Fanta and Sprite.
With a disarming smile that easily compensates for the bleak weather outside, he hastily organizes his micro-distribution centre (MDC) to ensure easy visibility of the wide assortment of Coca Cola products received the previous evening.
In the Nyumba Yanga community on the other side of the city, 55 year old Godfrey Mulenga could never be more proud of his association with the Coca Cola brand.
Like many other distributers, he starts his day early and often serves his customers until it gets dark. "The local bottling company has given me a good life," he says, heaping praises at the local Coke supplier. "You can say I am where I am today because of Coca Cola. I am happy to have built something from the ground up which has helped me to educate my children. Right now I have a son in university and I hope that he will come out and help me to make this bigger" he says, gesturing a reverse hug. He notes that two of his other children have also completed tertiary education, both benefitting from the proceeds of his micro distribution centre (MDC) business.
Albert Chilale, a 60-year-old cotton farmer, lives with his wife Ronna Timona in and his family of 16 Choma, Zambia.
Last year, the couple grew 4 hectares of cotton on their 12 hectares of total land that the family has under cultivation. Albert embraced the offer of receiving his cotton payment in vouchers from Dunavant, a cotton buying company in Zambia.
This opportunity was made possible for Albert with the help of MEDA's Techno-Links project partner Zoona, a company that offers an electronic mobile phone-based voucher program for credit, savings, money transfers and payment services in four rural communities in Zambia.
Tekalegn Zergaw moved from SNNPR (Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People's Region, Ethiopia) to the capital of Addis Ababa to improve his income and to help his family.
He stayed on in Addis and has been weaving to support his family from a distance as the sole source of income for 17 years. He recently returned to Chencha and received technical assistance through MEDA's EDGET project as a member of the Behibret Enamelet Weaving Cooperative.
High-End Designer Enhanced Weavers' Capacity to Engage in High Quality-Bulk Production
Chencha, one of the districts in Gamo Gofa Zone, is traditional hub of weaving where many skilled weavers reside. However, market opportunity is a challenge due to Chencha's remote location, 500km from Addis Ababa. Typical traditional and low quality fabrics are not woven with good quality inputs and are sold at low prices. Traders set prices and weavers have limited capacity to negotiate and trade.
Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA), with nearly 60 years of globalexperience in business solution to poverty has been implementing a project named Ethiopians Driving Growth, Entrepreneurship and Trade (EDGET), linking weavers to high value markets.
Arbelli, her husband Nazeer and their four daughters live in Thaheem, a village near Mohenjo-daro, Sindh. To make ends meet, the couple tried their luck with farm labor and handicrafts but with little success.
USAID's Entrepreneurs Dairy Value Chain Project organizes women entrepreneurs in dairy farming, veterinary officers and village milk collection into clusters, training them in production and management practices to improve animal health and milk yields. Female Livestock Extension Workers (FLEWs) and Female Village Milk Collectors (FVMCs) are also trained to support village-based clusters of women dairy farmers in keeping their animals healthy and providing sustainable linkages to better markets and higher margins.
Zakareya is a 12-year-old entrepreneur, who lives and works in the Ezbet El Asker area of Aswan City.
Previously, Zakareya was a street vendor, selling Koshary (a traditional Egyptian dish) on the streets, where older boys frequently harassed him. Zakareya did not have the knowledge or awareness to understand that this constituted a work hazard; nor did he have the skills or tools to resolve this problem. Moreover, Zakareya's mother is a widow, raising 3 school aged children – their family income was low, all 3 children were working and attending school, and they suffered poor nutrition: their school performance suffered as a result.
Osouleya is a young lady who had fallen on hard times: her delivery truck and all the goods it was carrying were destroyed in a car accident. Osouleya then employed her two nieces Saly and Sahar Shawal in her little corner grocery store. These stores make up a large number of Egyptian Association for Community Initiatives and Development (EACID) clients: tiny little stores that sell a variety of goods – from canned food goods to flashlights and batteries.
Basma and Ibtisam have been with the Promoting and Protecting the Interests of Children Who Work in Egypt (PPIC-W) programme since it’s very inception; in fact, their family business was one of the early WIF projects.
Their family grocery store is located in the most economically deprived area in Aswan, up a high hill with steep and narrow streets. Their job was to carry the grocery inventory up the hill, which was extremely hazardous for the girls. Their loan allowed their parents to buy a cart, which decreased the physical risks faced by the girls.
Jack and Brillian Handando, an energetic couple with dreams of improving their farm, live off a dirt track in southern Zambia. With 14 children, five of whom are orphans, the Handandos manage their resources scrupulously. Everyone in the family works hard to grow cotton, peanuts, maize, sunflower, soya beans, and other vegetables—some for selling and some for consumption.
This year when Jack decided it was time to sell his cotton, he learned that the cotton company, Dunavant and a Zambian mobile payments company, Zoona, were offering farmers the opportunity to receive part of their payment for cotton on e-vouchers.
Ismoil Isokov is living with his 2 sons and wife in the center of Istaravshan in North Tajikistan. The main connection from Khujand to the capital Dushanbe leads through the region. As a result, Istaravshan is known for its active trading and has the largest market of North Tajikistan. Best conditions for producing and trading agricultural products.
Ismoil together with his brother has received 5 ha of land during the land reform in 1997. Like many other new farmers, he needed to catch up on farming techniques and technology, and he needed external finance to start a successful farming business. Since the start of MEDA's 'Farms to Markets' project, Ismoil has been a client of two components. The agricultural advisors have been visiting him and advised him in innovative farming techniques and marketing opportunities. In the last season he has received a credit from our local partner organization IMON, which he used for fuels and agro-chemicals. As a result, he was able to improve his tomato and grape yields and quality, receiving a sales contract for tomatoes with the local processing company, The Technological Center. He processes his grapes into raisins and by now has an annual average of 14t of raisins, which he sells without any problems on the local market or in Khujand.
Bizoro Razakova lives with her husband, two sons and their families in the very traditional county Chorku. Bizoro is a graduate from the university in Dushanbe and has worked for thirty years as a biology and geography teacher in Chorku. In the last few years, she held the position of chairwoman of Chorku, before she went into early retirement in the young age of 54. And she enjoys it. Now she can fully concentrate on her 'hobby' and main income, gardening and food preservation with MEDA's Pro-Poor Agricultural Development project.
After 10 years of administrating her mother's Dressmaking Shop, 31 year old and mother of two, Angela Gisell Hernandez is now the owner of this shop that provides jobs for seven family heads. She purchases raw material, designs, sews and is also in charge of sales and marketing of the finished products.
Her designs include dresses, slacks, skirts and blouses. "My creativity comes from watching my mother day after day design and sew," said this bright eyes petite lady.
Hawawu Issahaku lives with her husband and two young sons in the community of Goh in northern Ghana. The villagers live in mud brick homes surrounded by lush farm fields; a dirt road links to other communities.
Hawawu's home is well kept, the courtyard swept, her kitchen fireplace carefully cleaned, the clay water pot full. There are signs of industry everywhere – a flock of chickens, goats, rabbits in an enclosure. Drying in the courtyard are the shea nuts Hawawu has gathered; shea trees grow wild across the scrub land of northern Ghana.