Merry is a banana farmer from, Tanzania. She started her farm shortly after getting married to support her family and pay for her four daughters’ education. On its own, her banana farm did not allow her to earn enough to fulfill these goals.Merry knew that she would need to grow her business further. That is why she jumped at the chance to work with Natural Extracts Industries Ltd (NEI) to grow vanilla in the shade of her banana trees. NEI provided farmers in her community with training on sustainable farming practices and subsidized vanilla seeds to get started. The Tanzanian social enterprise also harvested and bought the vanilla once it was ready.
“This year, I was the best vanilla grower in my village, and I used the profit from vanilla to pay for my daughters’ school fees and to renovate our house,” Merry says.
Other farmers in her community recognized her hard work and success, and they elected her to be a Farmer Champion representative. Merry then took part in another course that qualified her to train other farmers on good agricultural practices.
Everyone in Merry’s family helps out on the farm.
“Despite the challenges we faced, my family has been very supportive of my business, and my daughters give me so much hope," says Merry.
Stories like Merry’s are why Canada and MEDA are working with businesses like NEI under the Strengthening Small Business Value Chains project. With the right knowledge and opportunities, small entrepreneurs can grow their businesses and their local economies.