Chamas in Kenya
A chama is a micro-saving society that groups of Kenyans use to pool savings. Beginning in the 1960s, chamas in Kenya have become impressive tools of economic empowerment that follow the spirit of harambee, the Kiswahili word for ‘all pull together.’ Their community approach helps alleviate poverty by providing a means to pay tuition for children, make small-scale investments in community development, buy household items and more. More than 40% of Kenyans are chama members.

A Communal Economic Model

To form a chama, a group of around 15-35 people come together through mutual trust and pay a certain amount of money every week or month. The group then uses the money to offer very low-interest loans to members. Additionally, the group may decide to invest in an asset that members can own collectively, such as a piece of land, or in an industry, such as horticulture.

Chama members understand that fighting poverty must go hand-in-hand with psychosocial well-being. They provide each other with access to employment, help when a member gets sick, support at funerals and are joyful at weddings.

Chamas Help Avoid Economic Crisis

Chamas have been vital in helping Kenyans avoid economic crises. In the 1990s, many of Kenya’s informal retailers had to close down their businesses as their suppliers became too expensive due to the liberalization of the economy. Chamas proved tremendously helpful in dealing with rising prices. For example, a group of garment traders created a chama that enabled them to switch to Chinese suppliers and keep their businesses afloat.

Chamas Empower Women

In Kenya, women often have to be financially dependent on men. However, Kenyan women, who make up half the informal sector, have been able to achieve some financial independence thanks to chamas. According to the World Bank, 55% of Kenya’s urban women aged 15-25 are unemployed. Chamas can help them to avoid or escape poverty by securing financial help from their community to become self-employed. All-women chamas like Wikwatyo Wanoliwa (Hope for the Widows) have proven that women are a key demographic in the fight against poverty.

Chamas are also good avenues for community outreach. For instance, in 2017, around 80 women from chamas received training on the Kenyan electoral process and in turn, encouraged thousands of women in their communities to register to vote. Civic education is important in poverty eradication because it empowers women to match their economic decisions in chamas with democratic decisions on the ballot.

Chamas are a creative and resilient way to fight poverty in Kenya. Their intuitive approach to financial security has become so important to the Kenyan financial sector that banks have even started using it as an economic model to lure more clients.

Frank Odhiambo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Online businesses in GhanaPreviously, issues such as limited internet and bank access and informal home addresses made digital selling challenging for Ghanaian companies. However, advancement in these areas has allowed online businesses to grow, creating jobs in Ghana. Many college graduates in Ghana have started digital companies selling a wide range of products, including bags, footwear, clothes, grocery items, electronic goods and advanced cellular devices, among others. Some start companies also offer services such as repairing, cosmetics, interior decorating and photoshoots digitally. The growth of such companies has enabled them to offer many different types of employment to a greater population in Ghana.

Job Creation

From consumer services to promotions, financing to administrative tasks, retail managing to image consulting, online selling has many job opportunities to offer in Ghana, which had a 4.5% employment rate in 2020. For example, while the digital firm Jumia employs only around 500 people directly in online work, it employs more than 10,000 people indirectly. Online work does not always require people to have advanced technological abilities, only a willingness to learn. Online businesses also create associated non-online jobs.

For example, when people purchase meals and other items digitally, they require delivery. Nowadays, many companies offer delivery by motorcycle or van, creating many delivery jobs. Online businesses in Ghana also provide new jobs through collection posts, which have become more popular during the pandemic. These posts provide a safe and convenient way for customers to collect their goods while minimizing their risk of exposure to COVID-19. Collection posts hire post managers, shipment organizers and receptionists. In addition, some companies, such as Jumia, have encouraged digital businesses to expand by allowing people to collect their online purchases in-store.

Working from Home and New Digitial Stores

Many online businesses offer home-based and other off-site positions. Working from home not only enhances employees’ welfare and decreases stress, but it also helps reduce pollution as fewer people have to travel to work. Virtual connections allow people to associate with a worldwide community and conveniently work and buy what they need without having to travel. Additionally, digital companies can more easily provide short-term work such as contract, part-time and freelance work, which also helps to reduce poverty.

Moreover, in May 2018, a digital food store named Homeshoppa Ghana was introduced in Accra, the country’s capital. Homeshoppa Ghana matches its competitors’ prices in order to provide easily accessible, low-cost, standard groceries to every citizen. Access to stores like Homeshoppa Ghana allows people living in poverty to buy essential items at low prices.

Internet Advancements

The introduction of higher internet speeds and advanced cellphones in Ghana has helped prepare the marketplace for online retailers. By the end of 2017, 10.1 million Ghanaians, or 34%, were using the internet. As of January this year, the number of internet users had increased to 15.7 million. As more people begin to use the internet, online businesses are creating more new jobs in Ghana.

Jannique McDonald
Photo: Unsplash

Poverty Alleviation and Entrepreneurship
Research shows supporting entrepreneurship in low-income countries may be one of the most effective ways to permanently reduce global poverty. Despite this, this method of poverty reduction has often been overlooked. This is due to the fact that there has been limited information on its positive impact. However, with more information compiled, individuals in positions of power have sought to make it a focus of poverty reduction. The Global Partnership for Poverty and Entrepreneurship (GPPE) is an organization that has collected a plethora of this data. The resources on the GPPE website provide countless examples of poverty alleviation and entrepreneurship.

The Global Partnership for Poverty and Entrepreneurship

Established in November 2019, the GPPE officially launched in May 2020. This partnership was created by the University of Notre Dame with the intent of building up a research base that can help with future initiatives in supporting low-income individuals with entrepreneurial pursuits throughout the world. In an interview with Dr. Michael Morris, the head of this start-up, the three main objectives of this organization became clear. The first objective was to gather information on entrepreneurial startups in poor communities throughout the world. The second objective was to teach individuals about compiled information within poor communities in order to allow for community uplift. The third objective was to reach out to academics who have an influence on getting more research done on these topics and easily spread techniques to those within their academic influences.

Overall, the GPPE wants to get more people on the ground within impoverished communities. These people would support the poor with their entrepreneurial endeavors. The GPPE is currently setting up example programs within the United States. The purpose of these programs is to prove resources in various areas can be useful in supporting low-income individuals. Within South Bend, Indiana one of these example programs is the Urban Poverty and Business Initiative. This initiative uses resources from the Notre Dame community, especially from the students, to help poor individuals set up entrepreneurial endeavors. Students have helped create social media platforms and helped with marketing for the impoverished in the South Bend community. This is just one idea countries around the world can use to help reduce global poverty.

Entrepreneurship Among the Youth in Swaziland

A study on the youth in Swaziland has provided important information on where certain entrepreneurial systems are lacking within Africa. Other countries can use this study as a resource to help enact systems for poverty alleviation through entrepreneurship. Inadequate work experience provided within universities, a lack of youth voice in entrepreneurial policies and weak business environments are all factors that have driven the youth within Swaziland to have poor entrepreneurial experiences in the past. Organizations like the Youth Enterprise Fund, created in 2009 in Swaziland, have struggled to support new entrepreneurs.

Models have, however, been created in order to show the effects of government intervention when it comes to reducing obstacles that hinder the growth of young entrepreneurs, which can be extremely useful. Examples of influential government intervention include granting youth greater access to capital and giving them business training. Business training in particular has shown to make an enormous difference among the youth of Swaziland with regards to sales. A mixture of giving the youth in Africa more educational resources and professional connections has proven to greatly improve their entrepreneurial success and thus help them rise out of poverty.

Poverty-Reducing Work of Women in Bangladesh

In many low-income countries, the workforce does not utilize women as often as men. This can cause the viewpoint of women being financially burdening. Creating entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for women positively impacts their livelihoods. This is especially true for women living in rural areas. Within Bangladesh, a company called Hathay Bunano has given women both jobs and resources to build enterprises on their own. What this establishment has found is that not utilizing women is a huge waste of production resources. This includes supporting more women artisans through developing pride in the ownership of a product.

Hathay Bunano has worked to employ women who are at the most disadvantaged positions within Bangladesh. The organization has shown that simply giving these women jobs boosts their self-confidence in order to create better lives for themselves. Hathay Bunano is a company that produces hand-knit toys which is important in the context of proving that handicraft businesses can thrive in a competitive economic market. Overall, evidence shows providing grounding for poor women to start businesses that can be supported by their skill levels is plausible.

In conclusion, information that the GPPE has compiled, including the two studies mentioned above, shows poverty alleviation and entrepreneurship can go hand in hand. Working to inform more individuals on how communities can support the poor in their creation of businesses and entrepreneurship will transform low-income countries’ economies and the lives of the poor within them.

– Olivia Bay
Photo: Flickr

African BusinesswomenWomen own only 29% of businesses in sub-Saharan African. Because of socio-cultural and structural barriers, starting and running a successful business is especially difficult for women entrepreneurs. ImpactHER, a women-led nonprofit, has been empowering African businesswomen for the past four years.

Impediments for African Female Entrepreneurs

Barriers and adversities prevent African businesswomen from entering local and global markets. Many African women lack opportunities in education, personal wealth and tools to enter the market compared to their male counterparts. In 2019, Souhayata Haidara, special adviser to Mali’s Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, discussed with the Africa Renewal information program, the importance of educating women. She stated how lucky she is to have completed school before getting married. Often cultural expectations force women to drop out of school to marry. She reiterated that economic empowerment for women begins with education.

Even if a woman obtains a proper education, she may still find it difficult to start a business because of collateral requirements. Many African women do not own collateral or assets like land or a car. This leads to banks and investors financially excluding African women, which makes it difficult for African women entrepreneurs to access capital to launch and operate their businesses. In Tanzania, for example, although women have land ownership rights, customary law dictates that women cannot inherit land from their husbands or fathers.

Sociocultural barriers also prevent African women from becoming entrepreneurs. Women miss out on opportunities because they are often the main caretakers for children and oversee unpaid domestic work. Sociocultural barriers force domestic responsibilities onto women which often prevents them from having time to start a business.

Female Entrepreneurs for Economic Growth

Successful African businesswomen are crucial for a strong economy. Estimates say that gender gaps in employment and entrepreneurship cost economies about 15% of their GDP. Female-led businesses expand productivity, increase household incomes and diversify the local and national economy. With successful women’s economic empowerment, a country’s economy becomes stronger, meaning it is on track for poverty eradication.

ImpactHER

Efe Ukala founded ImpactHER in 2017, a nonprofit organization that trains and prepares African female entrepreneurs to become market leaders. Since 2017, ImpactHER has reached more than 45,000 women-led businesses in 89 countries, with more than 20,000 female African entrepreneurs trained.

In a March 2021 presentation organized by Global Minnesota, Ukala revealed that in 2020 alone, ImpactHER helped more than 10,000 African businesswomen and connected African female entrepreneurs to institutional capital to the value of $577,000. ImpactHER also rendered technology transformation services to more than 5,000 African businesswomen. ImpactHer accomplishes these tasks through its programs.

  • The AdvanceHER program assists African businesswomen in expanding their businesses and market presence. This program aims to transform African female entrepreneurs into market leaders.
  • The UpliftHER program provides African businesswomen with information on how to become investor-ready.
  • ConnectHER teaches African female entrepreneurs how to network and choose the right investors for their businesses.

ImpactHER and COVID-19

COVID-19 disproportionally impacted women-led businesses. Once COVID-19 arrived, ImpactHER jumped into action. ImpactHER sent 30 African presidents letters that advocated for women-targeted stimulus packages, relaxation of collateral requirements by African banks, disbursement of stimulus packages from a gender-lens perspective by African governments and extending the repayment period for loans. ImpactHER also co-authored a policy brief with U.N. Women and Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa.

After assessing the needs of African businesswomen in the time of COVID-19, ImpactHER assisted African female entrepreneurs in:

  • Rendering technology to create e-commerce websites
  • Creating market strategies to sustain the market during COVID-19
  • Finding therapeutic services for women facing psychological fear resulting from the pandemic and business uncertainty

Since its founding in 2017, ImpactHER has assisted thousands of African women entrepreneurs. There is still more to accomplish when it comes to advancing African businesswomen, especially with the presence of COVID-19. But, with programs like ImpactHER, African businesswomen will continue to receive the tools to recover and move forward.

Bailey Lamb
Photo: Flickr

Improve Lives in MexicoBefore the COVID-19 pandemic, moderate poverty in Mexico had declined from 25.7% in 2016 to 23% in 2018, although 29 million people continued living in impoverished conditions. Prior to 2018, Mexico’s multidimensional poverty rate, which includes income poverty as well as factors such as access to food and education, had dropped to about 42% of the population, thereby improving lives in Mexico. However, according to CONEVAL, a public agency that measures poverty, the effects of COVID-19 could mean that 56% of the country, or 70 million Mexicans, may not earn enough to cover their basic needs. This number represents an increase of around 50% more poverty in the past 24 months. Mexican women-led associations and businesses are leading the way to reduce poverty and improve lives in Mexico.

COVID-19 and Poverty

The effects of COVID-19 could eliminate decades of poverty reduction. Global GDP fell 5.2% in 2020, but, Latin America’s drop in real GDP was expected to be closer to 7%, according to the World Bank. The IMF calculates an economic recession of 6.6% in Mexico. By June 2002, more than a million jobs were already lost due to the pandemic.

As a result, Latin America’s second-largest economy, Mexico, could be among the countries in the region that are affected worst. Up to 17 million Mexicans may soon be living in extreme poverty — an increase from 11 million in 2019.

Women Entrepreneurs in Querétaro

In the state of Querétaro, Mexico, a women-led and women-founded association is helping to lift women and their families out of poverty. Established in 2010, Mujeres y Ambiente SPR de RL de CV has combined forces with an environmentally-minded Spanish company, along with the Mexican government and Autonomous University of Querétaro, to develop cosmetics based on local medicinal plants. Mujeres y Ambiente helps women entrepreneurs in Querétaro to expand their own agricultural micro-businesses, thereby helping them to become economically self-sufficient.

Eulalia Moreno Sánchez, along with her two daughters, Ángeles and Rosa Balderas, formed a Women and Environment group in the La Carbonera community. Through consolidating micro-businesses such as selling earthworm humus, mushrooms, medicinal plants, vegetables and aromatic plants, the women utilize the cultivated raw materials which they use in their products, to help the community produce a sustainable income.

International Support for Mexican Women

The Nagoya Protocol came into force in Mexico in 2014. This international agreement supports the equitable sharing of benefits from the use of genetic resources that come from traditional knowledge. Under the agreement, the women of rural Querétaro signed the first-of-its-kind permit between Mexico and Spain, which provides access to the genetic resources of traditional medicine plants cultivated in Mexico. The agreement fairly compensates local producers for their knowledge and their work, thus improving lives in Mexico. The community gets to preserve its ecosystem’s genetic resources and the women’s traditional knowledge based on medicinal plants. Members of the association are offered jobs as well as research and business opportunities.

In 2016, Sanchez and her daughters began to export lemon balm, or Toronjil, for the Spanish cosmetics company Provital. Since then, they have signed additional agreements to produce other medicinal plants for the company. With support from the UNDP (Global Environment Facility), the project establishes the legal framework for ensuring the right to protect biodiversity.

Preserving Biodiversity and Creating Jobs

In addition to alleviating poverty, the association’s goals include stabilizing the soil, cultivating a nursery and conserving biodiversity. Cosmetic products are developed from the women’s traditional knowledge about local herbs and medicinal plants. The entrepreneurs are part of the cosmetics industry’s sustainable supply chain and they serve as an example of successful conservation through the sustainable use of biodiverse resources. These activities have allowed the women to derive an income, create more jobs and open up markets, offering a way to reduce poverty and improve lives in Mexico.

Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr

Green Shoot Foundation's FASE ProgramThe Green Shoots Foundation aims to reduce international poverty in seven countries by implementing three programs: ELSE, FASE and MAME. This Foundation focuses particularly on the FASE program, or Food, Agriculture and Social Entrepreneurship. The FASE program aims to educate individuals in business and agricultural work to promote productivity within the economy. About 80 students and 10 farmers from the Philippines and Cambodia have enrolled in the AgriTech Centre.

Reason for Action

The Philippines and Cambodia both heavily depend on the success of annual harvests to improve the economy. About 40% of Filipino citizens work in the agricultural industry. This industry contributes to around 20% of the GDP and 70% of total output in the Philippines. On the other hand, 22% of Cambodia’s agricultural work contributes to the GDP.

Although the agriculture industry is large, both countries face many difficulties. The Philippines lacks programs to ensure food security, connections to industries and efficient harvesting technologies. Furthermore, natural disasters such as typhoons and droughts damage agricultural facilities, supply markets and harm farmers themselves. Flooding also severely affects Cambodia. A massive flood cost around $355 million in damage to agriculture in Cambodia. Thus, the FASE program emerged to combat these harmful effects.

FASE in the Philippines

The Green Shoots Foundation collaborated with Gawad Kalinga to establish the FASE program in Southeast Asia. Gawad Kalinga is a nonprofit that aims to end international poverty in the Philippines. It works to provide education and employment opportunities to all citizens. Additionally, it has reached over 3,000 communities and fed over 100,000 students in schools through various programs. This organization has taken great steps in stabilizing the country’s workforce and economy.

The FASE program sends volunteers from the United States and England to the Philippines to provide training sessions. Volunteers teach people business and micro-financing information. Additionally, the FASE program provides platforms to inspire citizens to become entrepreneurs and support agricultural farmers.

Furthermore, incorporating a university on a farm allows farmers to obtain an education and promote their business. This program has supported over 1 million people and created over 300 jobs. Additionally, over 80,000 children attend school and 60 social enterprises have undergone establishment.

FASE in Cambodia

The Green Shoots Foundation has made a difference in Cambodia as well. The FASE program helped build the Agri-Tech Centre in North West Cambodia. Additionally, it focuses on environmental sustainability, training young children and preparing them for a future in the agricultural business.

Community-based Integrated Development is an NGO that works with the Green Shoots Foundation in Cambodia. Both organizations introduced the FASE program in Oddar Meanchey, a province in Cambodia. Furthermore, it provides training to improve agricultural opportunities and GDP. The Agri-Tech Centre has aided in establishing six sustainable enterprises as well.

In addition, the FASE program collaborates with the Agriculture Skills in Public Schools Project. The organizations discuss the most efficient farming styles to implement in the youth curriculum. Additionally, it creates irrigation systems and ponds to improve water accessibility and provide farmers with a suitable work environment. Children continue to learn farming skills to help improve the agricultural sector in Cambodia.

The Green Shoots Foundation and the Agriculture and Social Entrepreneurship program help advance agricultural sectors in the Philippines and Cambodia. Through support from the international community, the Foundation works to train and inspire citizens to become entrepreneurs. The Green Shoots Foundation continues to work to reduce international poverty and expand its influence in more countries.

– Sylvia Boguniecki
Photo: With Permission from Green Shoots Foundation

Female entrepreneurs in AfghanistanIt is no secret that women’s rights in Afghanistan have been suffering due to decades of war and Taliban rule in the country. Afghan women have been denied employment, education, healthcare and basic freedoms for years and were punished violently by the Taliban for attempting to find work or go to school. Years after Taliban rule, women are picking up the pieces of a broken society that drove them and many other Afghans into severe poverty. Organizations such as the Women’s Economic Empowerment Rural Development Project (WEERDP) and the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), both funded and backed by the World Bank, set up savings and loan associations in different communities to allow Afghan women to start their own business. Female entrepreneurs in Afghanistan have the potential to help the economy and poverty within the country.

Women’s Empowerment Projects of the World Bank

International Aid to Afghanistan is essential for empowering its women and bringing communities out of poverty. The World Bank has a variety of programs dedicated to poverty eradication. It implemented the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Project to support Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). VLSAs operate as a community bank that gives out micro-loans to women to create employment opportunities to sustain economic growth. Examples of businesses that have been started are hair salons, tailor shops and bakeries.

While the Afghanistan Rural Enterprise Development Program closed down in 2018, it was replaced by the WEERDP and continues to be backed by the World Bank and the International Development Association (IDA) to ensure steady funding.

VSLA’s are funded by the World Bank and the IDA to ensure sustainable financial institutions are available in Afghanistan, with the hope that they will partner with larger commercial banks in the future.

Benefits of Female Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

There are roughly 275,684 Afghan women beneficiaries of the WEERDP.  Many of them have had access to financial services for the first time with the program. Many others have taken loans, learned how to repay them and have begun saving for the future. These are valuable life skills for women who were not able to enter the workforce or gain an education in the past.

With the increase of women-run businesses in Afghanistan’s rural communities, VSLA’s can begin to partner with larger banks to begin serving bigger loans to women after seeing the success of the businesses that started with micro-loans. The support of financial institutions is important to give women the confidence to become entrepreneurs, especially in a country where the percentage of women in the workforce has been statistically low. Skills like leadership, management and problem-solving are derived from starting a business and they can be spread throughout communities to strengthen the role of women in the economy.

Skills can even be passed down through generations. Building a structure with programs like the WEERDP is vital for long-term economic growth and success because it can open doors for creativity and innovation for an economy that would benefit.

The Future of Female Entrepreneurs in Afghanistan

Increasing the number of women entrepreneurs with savvy financial skills can benefit the communities of Afghanistan in many ways. Successful women can begin to venture out into local politics and healthcare fields to build on their skills while sharing their talents with the community. Women have important input on what types of businesses are needed for their community and can reduce poverty in specialized ways.

Afghan women make up roughly half of the nation’s population, so their representation is needed to drive economic and societal progress. Having women be visible in the business sector can allow for gender equality to improve in Afghanistan over time, improving the development of the nation as a whole.

– Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

Tony Elumelu FoundationThe ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is affecting nations around the world, including the nations of Africa. Many African nations responded to the pandemic with strict lockdowns and social distancing initiatives, often stronger than that of European nations. However, the people of Africa face a much more severe economic impact. Although poverty reduction measures have been met with success across the continent, roughly 500 million Africans still live in extreme poverty. The sub-Saharan areas of Africa have the highest rates of poverty in the world, estimated at 55% in 2014. Foreign direct investment is down by 40% and 49 million more Africans could fall into extreme poverty in the world’s first global poverty increase since 1988. The Tony Elumelu Foundation hopes to reduce poverty in Africa through entrepreneurship.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation

A nonprofit operating since 2010, the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) fights global poverty in Africa through the funding of entrepreneurs and small enterprises, These are the very types of businesses that the pandemic impacted most, both across the world and in Africa. With an endowment of $100 million, the organization has already had significant success propagating what it terms “Africapitalism,” which is the use of the private sector for economic growth and development.

The EU Partnership

In December 2020, the European Union (EU) announced a formal partnership with the Tony Elumelu Foundation. The plan comes as part of two broader EU strategies: the EU External Investment Plan and the EU Gender Action Plan. It involves technical training and financial support for 2,500 female African entrepreneurs in 2021 across all 54 African countries through 20 million euros in increased capital. Speaking on the partnership, Tony Elumelu, the founder of the TEF, expressed delight in being able to partner with the EU and said the partnership will create great opportunities for African women who have “endured systemic obstacles to starting, growing and sustaining their businesses.” The Commissioner for EU International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, stated that empowering female entrepreneurs is an integral part of creating sustainable jobs and growth.

How Entrepreneurship Helps

In Central Africa, approximately 71% of jobs are in the informal sector. These jobs are particularly vulnerable to lockdowns. The strict measures put in place as responses to COVID-19 have left many of these people jobless. Entrepreneurship creates more stable jobs and allows a country to be more self-sufficient and can be just as effective as foreign or philanthropic aid in fighting poverty.

Even after the effects of the pandemic subside, Africa still has much to do to eradicate poverty. Fostering entrepreneurship is an innovative approach to this economic problem, one that the Tony Elumelu Foundation has seen significant results with, with more than 9,000 entrepreneurs mentored before the partnership with the EU. The full impact of these endeavors remains to be seen but the potential exists for African entrepreneurs to have a major impact on poverty in Africa. The TEF’s partnership with the EU will only intensify these positive impacts.

– Bradley Cisternino
Photo: Flickr

Paulownia TreesThe Central Asian nation, Uzbekistan, has a population of just over 33.6 million. Recently, President Shavkat Mirziyovev made history, becoming the first Uzbekistani President to acknowledge the poverty epidemic in the nation. Mirziyovev announced that somewhere between four to five million people currently live in poverty in Uzbekistan. The administration subsequently constructed anti-poverty measures and efforts to boost the economy. One woman in Uzbekistan took initiative, investigating how Paulownia trees can aid in poverty reduction.

A Proactive Mission

Sojida Jabborova, a Uzbekistani woman, observed both the poverty crisis within her country and the successful poverty reduction measures taken in China to create a plan. Under Mirziyovev’s reform campaign and insistence to study Chinese practices, Jabborova found the versatile Paulownia trees and entered the business world.

Each part of the Paulownia tree can be utilized to lift communities out of poverty. They are capable of adapting to poor soil, fertilizing it and purifying the air of harmful gases. Paulownia leaves can be used to feed livestock, they contain nectar for bees and other insects and their wood is sturdy enough to be used for houses and furniture. In 2018, Jabborova negotiated with Chinese business partners to deliver seeds and seedlings to Uzbekistan where they are now grown in experimental fields in four different regions. She has not stopped the investigation into how Paulownia trees can aid poverty reduction, continuing presentations and experiments on various products.

Uzbekistan Reform Campaign

Once in office in 2017, President Mirziyovev began multiple reforms to lift Uzbekistan out of economic depravity and better the livelihoods of its citizens. Poverty reduction has moved to top priority in Uzbekistan as the government granted $700 million to be spent on anti-poverty efforts in 2020. The administration believes to reduce poverty in Uzbekistan, they must first address unemployment and bolster entrepreneurship. This includes improving the tourism industry, improved training for essential trades and heightening economic literacy for citizens, particularly women.

Uzbekistan established a partnership with China to investigate and solve issues of unemployment, gender inequality and poverty in early October 2020. The Institute for Tourism Development in Uzbekistan has engaged in a joint research project to link tourism and poverty reduction. The plan for Uzbekistan is to increase the production of exports, expand the industry, boost small businesses, and in the long-term, improve government regulations and education regarding these fields.

Innovative Entrepreneurship Leading to Solutions

Sojida Jabborova was once a dentist in Uzbekistan, however, she was driven by the critical state of poverty in her country to find a solution. The reform campaign created the perfect atmosphere for Jabbarova to begin her work as the nation honed in on entrepreneurship and financial literacy in women especially. The partnership between China and Uzbekistan, with Beijing as the model for Uzbekistan’s progress, provided Jabbarova with the knowledge and support to begin experimentation with Paulownia trees. In the beginning, Paulownia trees were only grown on 19 acres and now they are grown in fields in Fergana, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent.

Poverty Reduction in a Global Pandemic

Sojida Jabbarova’s efforts in exploring how Paulownia trees can aid in poverty reduction is crucial. Her spirit along with the dedication of the Uzbekistani administration to place poverty reduction at the top of the to-do list will surely mean progress. These efforts have been constrained by the global pandemic where the administration focused on protecting lives and businesses and maintaining headway in the fight against poverty. The administration has centered on healthcare, financial support and social assistance in the fight against COVID-19.

The administration’s efforts for poverty reduction are substantial and the alliance with China has brought great insight on how to best lift citizens from poverty and kickstart a downtrodden economy. Jabbarova and her Paulownia tree fields are a success story for poverty reduction efforts and the overall reform campaign begun by President Mirziyovev.

– Lizzie Herestofa
Photo: Flickr

Empowering Women in Ghana
Over the past 20 years, women in Ghana have been increasingly entering the workforce. This is good news for the country as it is trying to reach the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically goal number two of zero hunger, by the year 2030. Through empowering women in Ghana, the country might turn its zero hunger goal into a reality.

Female Entrepreneurship in Ghana

Women run around 46.4% of businesses in Ghana, making it one of the most ambitious countries for female entrepreneurship. However, the traditional, patriarchal roles are still prevalent, confining women to household roles like housekeeping, tending to the children, food production, etc. A lot of hindrances exist within the current system that inhibits women from entering the workforce. This includes land ownership rights, necessary training, time constraints and inability to provide collateral for initial start-ups. Women are also limited in their ability to do things independently from male supervision. This is because of their limited education, with males usually obtaining higher education than their female counterparts.

Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

Elsevier, a Netherlands-based information and analytics company that has an emphasis on scientific, technical and medical content, conducted a primary study observing women’s empowerment through working in the pineapple sector (horticulture plantations). The data set consists of 420 married couples living on plantations in Ghana, and the results concluded that statistically, females who had employment had a positive impact on the overall household. Joint horticulture household results also showed that women had more of a say when it came to household decisions.

The income that women’s plantation jobs earned them gave them more leverage, as well as lessened the pressure their spouse had to be the sole provider for the family. Export-oriented horticulture not only plays a role in empowering women in Ghana but can help pull vulnerable populations in Ghana by employing them on these cash crop pineapple plantations. Additionally, it can help boost the country’s GDP, making the internal structure strong and autonomous.

Moreover, if Ghana put more incentives in place for female entrepreneurship, the country might be able to ensure zero hunger. If women are able to contribute financially, households will not be suffering from food insufficiencies due to the generation of an additional income, overall helping more families. This needs to occur by prioritizing equitable education for women, equal access to credit and protection of women-run small businesses. This way, more women will have the encouragement to join the workforce without any of the previous barriers discouraging them from doing so.

Traditional Ideas

Even after getting a job, many in Ghana still hold women to traditional roles in the home and bearing the extra burden of upkeeping a happy home life. This can be very difficult as both an entrepreneur and housewife, however, hopefully, their partners can be more understanding, creating a more balanced home life. However, traditional values still remain strongly-rooted in Ghanian culture. As a result, community cooperation programs for mothers to provide meal sharing and child care within the vicinity of each other might be of great assistance for mothers starting out at their new respective jobs.

Malnourishment and Food Insecurity in Ghana

Malnourishment is an issue that goes hand-in-hand with food insecurity in Ghana. This is especially a problem specific to the rural areas where food insecurity is disproportionately higher than in metropolitan areas. As many know, bad dieting can lead to a slew of health complications and a higher mortality rate. Therefore, diet literacy is a crucial aspect for women who are the ones typically preparing the food in Ghana. Women also have the ability to spread the word in these small villages as community is a key part of Ghanian culture.

Encouraging Diet Literacy Among Lower-Income Women

Studies have occurred regarding lower-income women in rural areas, but they are few in numbers. A well-documented and successful study occurred in Winneba, Ghana on high school students. The program included food selecting skills, preparation and food management. The results indicated a positive correlation between diet literacy programs and diet behavior, however, there is a lack of data on a larger pool of women. Having data on women from different demographics like diverse age groups, socio-economic class and education could give more accurate results on the viability of diet literacy programs.

Cross-comparative studies from abroad on low-income women indicate a high success rate of these diet literacy programs in Ghana. The government needs to be more proactive in its implementation of these programs in Ghana as empowering women will have an impact on entire families and villages. In order to reach Ghana’s no hunger goal, it should start with educating women on healthy behavioral practices.

The Potential of Backyard Farming

Additionally, observations have determined that backyard farming could be of great help to alleviate the disparities in food security between rural and metropolitan regions. The different climates between the North and South bring about different crucial staples for Ghanian cuisine. The process of truck farming helps to transport food items to different regions where grocery stores, restaurants and street markets can supply different food for purchase. Small-scale domestic backyard farming is very easy and makes healthy foods very accessible, encouraging healthy eating while alleviating rural hunger. These practices will aid women in becoming self-sufficient as well as increase food security in insecure regions, further empowering women in Ghana.

Ghana is making progressive steps in empowering women: this is especially occurring in the work sector with women owning almost half of the businesses in Ghana. This, coupled with more business incentives and diet literacy programs could really help the country reach its SDG goal number two of zero hunger by the year 2030. Women have proven (through various case studies as this article identifies above) that their ambitious involvements in the workforce have proven to be helpful, overall empowering women in Ghana by giving them autonomy and independence that they have never seen before. Economically, it helps alleviate the pressure on men to be the sole breadwinner; rather, men and women disperse the roles between them creating a more symbiotic relationship where both parties can financially contribute to the family.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr